'I braved sub-zero temperatures for an outdoor spa experience in Glasgow'

thaw glasgow blythswood kimpton hotel
An outdoor spa experience in Glasgow... in winterIHG/Emma Gritt

Swimsuit, check. Gloves and hat, check. Thermal socks, check. Snow boots, check. Would I need to wear them all at the same time? I hoped not.

I was preparing for a two-night stay at 5* Glasgow hotel the Kimpton Blythswood Square, a sprawling period property transformed in to a luxury bolthole specialising in relaxation, indulgence of all the senses, and rest.

Although the weather forecast forewarned of sub-zero temperatures, the welcome we received at the hotel was warm and friendly - and our room, featuring a huge bed, views over the Square, a sofa and some locally baked shortbread was lovely and cosy.

the kimpton blythswood square in glasgow
The Kimpton Blythswood Square in Glasgow Kimpton Blythswood Square

What's the spa like?

One of the first things that really hits you as you enter the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel is how amazing it smells. From the front door onwards, the building is scented by soy and seaweed candles made by Scottish brand ishga.

ishga candles made the entire hotel smell wonderful
ishga candles made the entire hotel smell wonderful

Their products, developed in the Outer Hebrides on the Isle of Lewis, are also used in the hotel's spa. I enjoyed a 55-minute ishga Invigorating Massage (£89), and I happily nodded off as a seaweed-based oil with lemongrass, juniper and rose geranium, was used to tackle my ever-tight back and shoulders.

But as well as standard treatments that happen inside, there's a chance for some al fresco relaxation, too. Even when the thermometer is in minus numbers.

thaw kimpton blythswood square
THAW Kimpton Blythswood SquareElaine Livingstone

Last summer the hotel's basement spa complex was closed for major refurbishment but while works continue they have come up with a fun solution - the THAW Garden. It's a mini outdoor spa complex with a sauna, steam room, hot tub and loungers. You can pre-book a 50 minute slot and then, in dressing gown and slippers, lose yourself in groups of up to six, glass of Champagne or mug of steaming hot chocolate in hand.

thaw kimpton blythswood square hot tub
The hot tub is under a cute canopyElaine Livingstone

The spa features are below a canopy draped with fairy lights which allows for a touch of privacy from overlooking hotel rooms - and the rain. Temperatures dropped to -3 in Glasgow during or trip, making the chilly stroll between the jacuzzi and the sauna almost like a cryo segment in a thermal baths.

What's the pet policy?

The hotel is very dog-friendly and we met several adorable pooches during our two-night stay. The hotel has a PAWfect Stay package which welcomes dogs (up to 35kg), and Bonnar, (the hotel's Director of Pet Relations) leaves out a cute welcome note and a bandana from Bark & Hare for four-legged guests.

dennis was thrilled with his treats when i got home
Dennis was thrilled with his treats when I got home Emma Gritt

I was really touched to see that 'Bonnar' had left out some treats for my cat, Dennis. The bandana was taken by my friend for her doggo, as despite multiple attempts to get DenDen interested in fashion, he sadly prefers to be nude.

pip wearing the bandana gifted by the kimpton blythswood square hotel in glasgow
Pip wearing the bandana gifted by the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow Emma Gritt

A new initiative at the hotel gives visiting dogs the opportunity to get a treatment at the same time as their owner. They can enjoy a gentle canine massage and have their fur smoothed with a luxurious oil.

Is the hotel good for foodies?

Heck yes! The hotel's restaurant, Iasg, is a chic, high ceilinged space with an emerald green cocktail bar at its heart. DJs play Friday and Saturday nights, the perfect accompaniment to a lively dinner or a few cocktails before bed. We loved the vegan Scottish breakfast (complete with vegan haggis) and at dinner the sides were the real superstars - especially the charred tenderstem brocolli on romesco and fried potatoes and caramelised onion dip.

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Between 5pm and 6pm daily the hotel hosts a "wine hour" where guests can mingle and sip on glasses of complimentary red or white wine. Unlike in London where people wouldn't interact with people they didn't know, we found the other guests really amiable and soon were chatting away about our stays and how we were enjoying our time in the city.

the lobby of the kimpton blythswood square is absolutely stunning
The lobby of the Kimpton Blythswood Square is absolutely stunningKimpton Blythswood Square

Away from the hotel, one night we had an early dinner at Eusebi Deli which is run by a third generation Italian-Scottish family with roots in Sicily and the French region of Lyon.
The menu, regularly updated to use seasonal products sourced (where possible) within a 20 mile radius, was full of delicious vegetarian options, including the greatest arancini we'd ever tried, some aubergine 'meat balls', which we raved about all weekend, and a TikTok-inspired Negroni Sbagliato.

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What unusual attractions are in Glasgow?

sharmanka kinetic theatre in glasgow was fascinating and thoughtprovoking
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre in Glasgow was fascinating and thought-provoking

It was my first time in Glasgow, and despite it being very very tempting to just stay in the luxurious surroundings of the hotel (I now understand how haunted hotels happen), I was eager to use my limited time in the city to explore some of its quirkier attractions.

On Friday night we spent two hours learning about its famous inhabitants, monuments, buildings, body-snatchers and ghosts on the Gothic Glasgow Walking Tour (£12). It was both informative and a great way to easily clock up 10,000 steps. As a bit of an amateur architecture nerd, I loved seeing buildings from across the ages - from imposing medieval structures to art deco towers now reclaimed as flats.

The host, Vincent, also pointed out the best place to pick up a deep fried Mars bar... or deep fried pizza (spoiler alert: we didn't).

On Saturday evening we booked tickets for the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre (£12), an incredible archive of moving mechanical sculptures created by Russian artist Eduard Bersudsky. Using scrap metal, skulls, found items and hand-carved figures, it's a commentary on Communism, folklore, and veers from whimsical to straight up spooky helped along by an intense light show and bespoke soundtrack.

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