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Summer 2006 | Glasgow

Summer 2006 | Glasgow

The year-round tendency toward gray skies only adds to Glasgow's romantic tenor, as each postshower burst of sunshine casts a filtered golden light onto the cobblestone streets.

Nighttime's chill encourages snuggling while strolling the wide pedestrian boulevards of the city center, the scenic riverfront path of the Clyde Walkway, or the narrow winding lanes of the West End--just as it helps usher you into one of Glasgow's endless cozy pubs or eateries. Tying it all together is the constant warmth supplied by the Glaswegians--ebullient folks who will chat you up and welcome you into their city with open arms. Though it's not quite as gay as Edinburgh or London, Glasgow is a cultural, stylish, and accepting place whose queer-friendliness is underscored by the United Kingdom's late-2005 passage of the Civil Partnerships Act. And it's home to plenty of happily mixed establishments--especially in the West End, where the University of Glasgow, leafy Kelvingrove Park, and the hip boutiques and cafés of Byres Road merge--as well as a diverse collection of queer nightspots. You'll find them clustered in moody, historic Merchant City, where arched entryways lead to narrow streets buzzing with the sexy posing youngsters of Polo Lounge, the karaoke-singing crew at Delmonica's, or the nightclub ravers of Bennet's. Just don't miss the romance of daytime Glasgow, where afternoons are best spent lazing over a drawn-out lunch followed by late-day tea.

ESSENTIALS

ACCOMMODATIONS
Radisson SAS Hotel (301 Argyle St., $244-$444), right in the heart of the city center, has award-winning modern architecture and a sleek interior, with attractively renovated guest rooms sporting a minimalist design, free WiFi access, and bathrooms with heated tile floors. Nearby is the Abode Glasgow (129 Bath St,. $400-$715), part of an upscale U.K. chain and featuring rooms with contemporary furniture, wood floors, claw-foot tubs, and plasma televisions. The Malmaison (278 W. George St., $346-$715), on a quiet side street and inside a renovated Greek Orthodox church, is a totally chic hideaway with individually designed rooms that have perks such as French windows and CD libraries.

RESTAURANTS
Enjoy a seasonal, eclectic meal in the atmospheric Brasserie at Oran Mór (731-735 Great Western Rd., 011-44-141-357-6226), a multifaceted space that also boasts a sprawling whiskey pub, a nightclub, and a performance space inside a converted church. The airy Café Gandolfi (64 Albion St. G1, 011-44-141-552-6813), filled with sculptural wood furniture, has a well-executed range of options, from traditional haggis to light salads. Vegetarians will find delicious comfort at the intimate Grassroots Café (97 St. Georges Rd., Charing Cross, 011-44-141-333-0534), in the West End, and at The 13th Note (50-60 King St., 011-44-141-553-1638), which also has a live-music bar. Experience a true afternoon tea in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Willow Tea Room (217 Sauchiehall St. G2, 011-44-141-332-0521), or the Mackintosh-inspired branch at 97 Buchanan St.

NIGHTLIFE
Polo Lounge (84 Wilson St., 011-44-141-553-1221) is a glam dance/lounge club with an impressive boy-girl mix that's similar to that at Delmonica's (68 Virginia St., 011-44-141-552-4803). Nightclub Bennet's (80 Glasford St., 011-44-141-552-5761), usually geared to guys, has a popular monthly lesbian night, while Moda (58 Virginia St; 011-44-141-552-2553) is a mellow lounge bar. Gong (17 Vinicome St., 011-44-141-576-1700), also with a dining room, is a wonderfully dramatic mixed place grab a cocktail in the West End.

ROMANTIC ATTRACTIONS
People's Palace (Glasgow Green, admission free), built in 1898 as a cultural center for the city's working class, is now home to an exhibit on Glaswegian life; the attached Winter Gardens is an elegant Victorian glass house. Glasgow School of Art (167 Renfrew St., 011-44-141-353-4500) is Mackintosh's crown jewel. Gallery of Modern Art (Queen St, 011-44-141-229-1996) houses an eclectic collection of works in a neoclassical mansion. The Lighthouse (11 Mitchell Lane, 011-44-141-221-6362), Scotland's national center for architecture and design, has art galleries, cafés, a shop, a lookout tower and a Charles Rennie Mackintosh interpretive center. Kelvingrove Park (Woodland Road) is an 84-acre oasis of green in the peaceful West End. For more planning information, log on to the Visit Scotland site.

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Beth Greenfield