Style shopping: off the beaten track in Glasgow, Galway and Reykjavik
Your guide to indulging in the holy trinity of activities – sleeping, eating and shopping – in these three vibrant cities
Left, from top: Shop Street in Galway; Laundromat Cafe in Reykjavik. Middle: a model wears a Chouchou Couture hood-scarf combo; right, from top: shoppers on Laugavegur, one of the oldest shopping streets in Reykjavik; Princes Square in Glasgow; Aniar in Galway
Lay your head in the Grasshoppers Hotel (grasshoppersglasgow.com), a boutique hotel on Union Street in the centre of the city, tucked away on the top floor of a mixed-use office and apartment block. This isn’t high-end luxury, but rooms are clean and cosy and the self-service kitchen where you will eat breakfast (try the great sausages) is a lovely, homely touch. Singles from £65.
A three-minute walk away is Princes Square, the shopping centre whose cast-iron facade was designed by the Glaswegians behind print designers Timorous Beasties (timorous beasties.com). Stop by their shop on Great Western Road.
Eat your fill at 29 Private Members Club (29glasgow.com) at Royal Exchange Square, right around the corner from Prince’s Square, two floors of drinking and dining options in a stunning 19th-century building. The Grill Room restaurant is great for lunch, with views over Exchange Square and locally sourced seafood and beef. Don’t be put off by the name: all are welcome and a two-course lunch with coffee will set you back a mere £15.50.
For more laid-back dining, head for the Gannet (facebook.com/thegannetgla), where you’ll start off with still-warm home-baked bread and unsalted butter before moving on to the menu. Think home-smoked salmon served with a quail egg or butternut squash gnocchi with braised leek. Three-course set lunch is £15.
Shop in style, starting with a trip to milliner William Chambers’ Bath Street studio (williamchambers.co.uk). Make an appointment to discuss your bespoke headpiece. Chambers sells his designs at Harrods, Fenwick and Fortnum & Mason, with prices starting at £90-odd for a gorgeous acrylic bow headband (up to £900-plus for a hand-beaded work of art).
Italian designer Silvia Pellegrino (chouchoucouture.com) has made Glasgow her home, and from her studio on Argyle Street she designs and hand-makes Chouchou hoods – faux fur-lined scarf-hood combos that can be worn beneath coats or, belted, over dresses. Collaborations with local tartan designers have resulted in 100 per cent wool check hoods, lined with the softest off-white luxury faux fur. £125
Rosemary Mac Cabe was a guest of the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau. Peoplemakeglasgow.com
Lay your head in the five-star Philip Treacy-designed G Hotel (theghotel.ie), where rooms are designed with luxury in mind. You can even stay in the Linda Evangelista suite, with panoramic views of Lough Atalia and a super king-sized bedroom, which is alleged to be the very bed Evangelista wouldn’t leave for less than £10,000. A regular bedroom, costs from €112 per night.
For something a lot less showy and a little more central, the four-star House Hotel (thehousehotel.ie) is right in the centre of Galway, on Spanish Parade, with rooms from €79 per night. It boasts a great-value brunch menu (€6.95 per menu item) and the cocktail bar is worth a look, too.
Eat your fill at Galway’s only Michelin- starred restaurant, Aniar (aniarrestaurant.ie) on Dominick Street (just a few doors away from Galway’s best live music venue, the Róisín Dubh, roisindubh.net). Aniar, which is brought to you by the same folks who run Cava, a Spanish restaurant and tapas bar in the city, and Eat at Massimo gastropub, prides itself on a menu of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. You’ll pay for the privilege – starters are €12.50 while mains all hover around the €32 mark – but it’ll be worth it.
For something more exotic, not to mention pocket-friendly, head to the Asian Tea House Restaurant on Mary Street, where prices begin at €5.50 for starters and only push past €20 when you’re talking super-fresh local seafood (try the Malay crab claws, €22.90). Ingredients are fresh and MSG-free and the restaurant has recently seen an influx of the trendy Friday-night crowd. (For an authentic west of Ireland experience, head to McSwiggan’s on Eyre Street for a post-dinner tipple.)
Shop in style at Don’t Call Me Dear on Mill Street (dontcallmedear.com), a ladieswear boutique with an old-school feel. That translates to hand-me-down furniture (like granny’s antique cabinet, currently acting as a brooch display) and extremely friendly customer service. The focus is on occasionwear, with a particular emphasis on millinery from Irish designers Carol Kennelly, Edel Ramberg, Mary White and Michael Mullins.
Sirona Boutique (sironaboutique.com) on Market Street calls itself an ethical boutique – and with good reason. It is one of the few sustainable fashion shops in Ireland, and stocks luxury items by Irish designers such as Emma Manley, Natalie B Coleman Lisa Shawgi, and Lisa Ryder, as well as international designers Ada Zanditon, Olsen Haus, Norrback, and Finsk.
Lay your head in 101 Hotel, a boutique hotel, whose monochrome interior screams chic, and which has an art gallery as well as a bar-cum-restaurant serving burgers, sandwiches and seriously meaty main courses such as crown of lamb with blueberries, at 4,800 Icelandic krona (about €29). Iceland is known for its high prices, but you can get great deals if you book ahead – right now, 101 is offering three nights for the price of two (from €138 per night).
If your idea of slumming it is chartering a boat without a dedicated skipper, Hlemmur Square (hlemmursquare.com), a hostel-hotel hybrid at Laugavegur 105, could be just the ticket. A bed in a shared dorm costs as little as €15 per night, while those who value privacy above economy could fork out for a king from €66 per night – a steal in Icelandic terms.
Eat your fill at the Laundromat Café (the laundromatcafe.com), a coffee shop that does exactly what it says on the tin. Locals come to do their laundry, drink coffee and have a snack, all while browsing from the selection of colour-coded books. On a November trip, there was a queue outside – no mean feat when temperatures are sub-zero.
For a more authentic Icelandic experience (the Laundromat Cafe is a Danish import), Cafe Loki (loki.is) at Lokastigur 28 is much better than its gaudy exterior, and directly across from the Hallgrimskirkja, a Reykjavik must-see. On the menu, simple snacks such as rye bread and butter (450 Icelandic krona, about €2.75) sit alongside Icelandic delicacies including trout, dried fish and shark served with flat bread with smoked lamb (2,750 Icelandic krona, around €16.80).
Shop in style at Kron (kron.is), a shoe shop located on the main shopping street, Laugavegur (just up from Hlemmur Square) that sells a variety of labels including Camper and the seriously amazing Icelandic-designed Kron by KronKron. These are shoes without rules – multicoloured, with platforms and laces, buttons and zippers, suede and leather. You won’t get much change from €400, but you’ll never see anyone in the same kicks.
Andersen & Lauth (andersen lauth.com) is one of Iceland’s longest-running labels, with its roots in the tailors’ shop opened in 1908 by Ludvig Andersen. Andersen & Lauth’s designs are sold worldwide, as well as in the brand’s Reykjavik store, at Laugavegur 7. The rule of thumb in the store is that half of their employees are recent graduates or still in design school, with a view to keeping things fresh.