Native is an aparthotel operator, with over 25 buildings across major cities in the UK, including London, Birmingham and Leeds, and a portfolio value of £1.7bn. Expansion is at the forefront of its agenda, with a Manchester property set to open next month and plans to have a presence in all major UK towns and cities by 2021. Aimed at both business and leisure travellers, the aparthotels cater to long and short stays alike.
As suggested by its name, Native properties value the area in which they are located, with interiors inspired by the character of the neighbourhood. This 64-apartment Glasgow outpost opened in October 2018, and we have previously reviewed the Bankside property.
What’s it like?
The apartment complex is housed in a large seven-storey A1 listed Edwardian building, initially only recognisable as Native by the gold plaque fixed to the Carrera marble columns outside. Linger a little longer, however, and you’ll spot the building’s nautical theme, with shells and seaweed engraved into the building front – a nod to its former home as the Anchor Line Shipping Company’s headquarters, which closed in 1965.
While the building has been repurposed, the Native team have worked hard to retain its original features from 1906 – expect glazed tiles, terrazzo flooring and timber wall-panelling throughout the aparthotel. The building was designed by architect James Miller, also known for the Union Bank and extension of Glasgow’s Central railway station.
To enter the building, you’ll need a key card, or you can ring the intercom for reception. Once inside, there is a lift or one flight of stairs to the reception area on the first floor, a small understated room with two armchairs and a desk, manned 24 hours a day. There are also guest rooms 101-107 on this floor. Reception staff are extremely welcoming, eager to learn about your stay and offer recommendations of Glasgow hotspots. Colm was on duty the whole weekend I was there, ready to offer his support at any moment.
The lift takes you to every floor with use of your key card. Hallways pay homage to the building’s legacy with art-deco cruise-inspired carpets and sky blue walls. There are doors to enter the hallway, and also entrance doors to multiple apartments (e.g. room 606 and room 607 were behind an initial door). While this means that losing your key card is highly inconvenient, it also means the room is very secure and allows Native to interconnect apartments if need be – the complex has no two-bedroom apartments.
Where is it?
The building is located on St Vincent’s Place, just down the road from George Square and within walking distance of major sights such as the Gallery of Modern Art and the City Chambers.
Native is very conveniently located in terms of transport, almost backing onto Queen’s Street Station and within 5 minutes walk of Central Station, both of which have rail routes within Scotland and beyond. The quick and easy airport shuttle bus, the Glasgow Airport Express (500), stops directly opposite the building and takes 15 minutes to reach the airport.
It’s also round the corner from the main shopping street, which can be a bit of a circus on the weekend but is easily avoidable via the backstreets, with the added bonus of spotting Glasgow’s famous mural trail.
The apartments come in seven categories, each with a fully-stocked kitchen, and no room is the exact same size due to the nature of the building. The interior design, however, is fairly uniform. All feature vintage-style posters which pay homage to the building’s heritage – mine had Anchor Line posters with sketches of the cruise ship, and a sign for saloon accommodation aboard.
A studio is small, or ‘wee’ as described by the Scots, but larger than most London alternatives, starting at 26 sqm and more applicable to tourists than business travellers. The Premium Studio is a great size for a weekend stay, slightly larger than the ordinary studio. A one-bedroom is as it sounds, with a bedroom separate to the living area, affording you a little extra space. The open plan equivalent costs the same price, with the bedroom cut off by an archway rather than door – a New York style loft, if you will.
The Premium One Bedroom is similar but has a larger living space and bedroom. At the top of the range, and incidentally the top of the building, are Native’s open-plan Penthouse Studios and Penthouse One Bedrooms on the seventh floor, with terraces overlooking the city’s charming gothic architecture. One bedrooms and above have a washer dryer, while the lower rate rooms can use the utility room on the fourth floor, fitted with washing machines and extra bin bags.
All rooms have the same amenities (Elemis toiletries – though a switch to a Scottish make is on the cards), HDTVs with Netflix, air-con and heating, fully equipped kitchens, iron and ironing board, and a clothes horse. The beds all have tropical blue pillows, a warm brown leather headboard and silky patterned throw. Side tables frame the bed, with sockets and a copper lamp on both, along with light switches.
Bathrooms are very generous in size, with large tiled showers in red, green and blue depending on the room.
While the kitchens range in size, they all have a slick white marble bar area with stylish bar stools. There’s a food waste bin, though it would be good to also have a separate recycling bin – we left our recyclables in a separate bin-bag. In terms of disposing of bin bags, it’s up to guests to let reception know and they will take them out for you.
In some rooms, you’ll find original fireplaces and the building’s original vaults, which have now been transformed into a walk-in wardrobe – getting this room is a simple luck of the draw.
Corporate guests are given a Tantrum Doughnut in their room, which is both a nice sugar fix after travelling and a great way to support Glasgow’s independents – it definitely worked as we ended up buying more on our last day in the city. Every Native aparthotel fits the rooms with books relevant to the area – in this case, Dear Green Sounds is a nod to Glasgow’s UNESCO City of Music status, while there was also a cookbook of Glaswegian grub and a pocket-sized book dedicated to the Glasgow Boys painters.
I was in room 606, a premium studio with fittingly premium vistas overlooking Glasgow’s gothic rooftops, particularly dramatic on a moody weather day. The room was spacious and the king-sized bed was extremely comfortable, with minimum 200-count Egyptian cotton. There’s also a sofa at the end of the bed, which is ideal for lounging, or watching the large TV. Thankfully, the pillows are firm and you won’t be disturbed by noise or light – heavy curtains and soundproofing windows are very much a bonus.
The only downside is the lack of light in the kitchen, a result of the navy blue walls – this, however, seems to be improving as Native are looking to change the paint colour. A large wardrobe had ample space for hanging clothes and there’s a full length mirror to check you’re ready for the day ahead.
Food and drink
Each apartment has its own fully equipped kitchen, with a very user-friendly induction hob, combi-oven, small fridge freezer, kettle, dishwasher, crockery and cutlery. Tea, coffee, milk and a bottle of water are provided, along with dishwasher tablets and washing up liquid. If you’re not in the mood to cook, however, the Native building has you covered. There are two restaurants in the building, while Glasgow has a burgeoning food and drink scene, with Native recommending its ‘neighbourhood heroes’ in a leaflet in the room.
Breakfast takes place at the ground-floor The Anchor Line, a swanky restaurant (accessible from outside) that could be plucked straight out of the Big Apple. Eating here has the added benefit of a museum visit, with original artwork and memorabilia from the ship’s heydays adorning the walls – check out the old school trunks and uniforms en-route to the toilets downstairs.
We sat in one of the plush booths and enjoyed a brunch-style breakfast, with Eggs Royale (£7.95) and a very reasonably priced Full Scottish (£8.95) replete with a mega black pudding. While my guest was defeated by the latter, we both had room for the slab of melt-in-the-mouth tablet fudge that arrived with our pots of Earl Grey tea. There’s a generous list of breakfast cocktails too, including the punny lemon-based ‘When Life Gives You’, but we opted for the more sobering (and British) tea.
For dinner, we headed to the lower ground floor restaurant The Atlantic Bar and Brasserie, located directly below The Anchor Line. Much like its sister restaurant, it has a rich history, having opened in honour of the Empire Exhibition in 1938. Now, it boasts a contemporary menu of French-inspired dishes, with an open kitchen giving you a glimpse at the action.
We were served the £30 set dinner menu, with a reasonable choice of dishes, though it didn’t quite match up to the standard at the Anchor Line. For starter, we enjoyed a lentil soup with baguette, and flambéed King prawns with Calvados apple brandy, beurre blanc and chilli oil. This was followed by spit-roasted chicken marinated in lemon, honey and paprika, served with roast potatoes, honey roasted vegetables and gravy. I opted for a pearl barley ragout, advised that it resembled a risotto, though it lacked flavour despite its description reading as a list of delicious ingredients (white wine, sunblushed tomatoes and mint oil were just a few). Dessert, however, was divine – a greedy sticky date pudding with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, definitely big enough to share.
Native also host events in one of their largest apartments (Room 101 – but not at all like the TV show), ranging from drinks receptions to product launches and cocktail making classes. It was particularly heartwarming to hear that the hotel invited former employees of the Anchor Line to the building to see how it had changed.
There are no gym facilities on site. Native recommends cultural highlights such as the nearby mural trail and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut live music venue.
Native Glasgow is a very reasonably priced aparthotel, which caters to both business and leisure travellers with its generous-sized apartments, convenient location in the city centre and great restaurants on your doorstep.
A heavenly night’s sleep in very comfortable beds
Neighbourhood recommendations from the friendly staff
Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in a studio in June start from £147
14 St Vincent Pl, Glasgow G1 2EU, +44 (0)20 7313 3886, nativeplaces.com