Once a mangle of warehouses and docks, Finnieston sits on the banks of the River Clyde, just west of Glasgow‘s traditionally more salubrious city centre. But like so many ex-industrial neighbourhoods, Finnieston is now attracting a new generation, one seeking cheap rents and a creative community of like-minded souls. You won’t find the big chains here; this is an area that is proud to keep it local. Here’s our guide to how you can do the same.
An ex-industrial wasteland?
Far from it. Head down to the riverside today and you won’t find decay and decline. What you will find is the fabulous Riverside Museum, which opened in 2011 and promptly won a whole host of awards for its spiky architecture (by Zaha Hadid, no less) and informative collection. It delves into Glasgow’s past as a maritime powerhouse to give you a glimpse of life in the first half of the 20th century. Don’t miss the interactive street of shops.
Time for tea
No Starbucks would dare to open up here. Finnieston is all about proper tearooms, complete with homemade cakes and the now-ubiquitous vintage pastels. Try Cushion and Cake for loose leaf teas (black, white, green and herbal) and homebaked brownies, or visit Hidden Lane Tearoom to order a decadent afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches and scones. Although everyone who comes here loves it (and loves to tweet, Instagram and Yelp it) it somehow manages to remain a secret. So shhh.
Stay in the gloriously ramshackle enclave of the Hidden Lane for some seriously creative shopping. Silvia Pellegrino hails from Rome but has made her home here in Finnieston making designer hoods under the brand Chouchou Couture. Across the street, The Shop of Interest stocks these alongside original artwork, prints and jewellery.
Finnieston for foodies
Foodies take note: Finnieston is the place to be for dinner in Glasgow. Our top pick is Crabshakk, which has been serving up heaving platters of deliciously juicy Scottish seafood here since 2011, and has recently opened Table 11 oyster bar next door. For something more traditional, try Old Salty’s, a good old-fashioned chippie serving hake, cod or haddock suppers to hungry patrons. You can still posh it up with a scallop or two, of course.
On the other side of Argyll Street, The Gannet is all about local, seasonal produce – most of the ingredients are Scottish, from Borders lamb and Perthshire venison to Hebridean squid and hand-dived scallops.
If beef is your thing, head instead to Porter & Rye, just a few doors along the street, where the cuts hang in their very own meat locker right there in the restaurant, and a giant smiling cow with a shock of pink lipstick looks down on the dining room.
You could also consider leaving Argyll Street for dinner, especially if you’re after steak. Butchershop wouldn’t feel out of place in New York (owner James Rusk trained there, in fact) and is a strong contender for Glasgow’s best steakhouse. Cuts come thick and juicy here and are 100% Scottish, hailing from John Gilmour in the Borders or Cairnhill Farm in Ayrshire. Try the house signature cote du boeuf or t-bone served with garlic prawns or bone marrow.
A night on The Strip
There’s so much going on along Finnieston’s main drag of Argyll Street that locals have nicknamed it “The Strip”. Kelvingrove Café is a top choice for its inviting leather booths that look out over Argyll Street, while Lebowskis pretty much started it all when it brought its extensive White Russian menu and great burgers to the area back in 2008. A few years later, the same people opened The Finnieston, where gin bottles of all varieties fill the wall behind the bar and cocktails are mixed to high (read strong) standards.
Rum is the tipple of choice at Distill, so try a Mai Tai or Dark and Stormy here before moving on to Dukes to carry on the party. Thursday is live jazz night, while Wednesday sees Glasgow’s up-and-comers on the open mic. See if you can scout the next big thing”¦they might just end up on stage around the corner at mega-venue SSE Hydro.
Great news! From 10 September 2015 we will be flying direct from Glasgow to Las Vegas, giving you even more choice when choosing your next flight with Virgin Atlantic.
What do you make of Glasgow’s Finnieston neighbourhood? Where are your favourite places to go in the area? Let us know in the comments section below.