TRAVEL REVIEW: Scotland’s capital of shopping

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GLASGOW has always been a bustling city of industry.

Historically it was said to be an important centre for trade, thanks to its River Clyde, and later shipyards.

Now it seems to have added another string to its bow - that of shopping.

For Scotland’s biggest city is being branded as the capital of retail therapy.

Heavy promotion is highlighting its so-called ‘style-mile,’ a long parade of top shops, as well as several major new openings from retailers.

And the city was recently hailed as the number one UK destination “on the rise” by travel site TripAdvisor.

It’s a tough job but we were prepared to check out these shopping credentials on behalf of Sheffield folk.

Glasgow is easily accessible by train, or it should be.

Unfortunately on the day of travel it snowed yet again and we missed our connection at Manchester by minutes.

Thanks to an incredibly helpful customer services manager, and a few tears, we went on to Preston and then nipped up to Glasgow through two other operators.

Three hours later we arrived at the beautiful Glasgow Central station which has famous architectural features including a large glass-walled bridge.

You don’t have to stray too far from the railway station to start spending in Glasgow.

A five-minute walk took us to the Buchanan Quarter district, where a new section of shops had just opened.

These include a giant Paperchase, where stationary addicts like myself hopefully go instead of heaven. Notepads and kitsch accessories galore were the essential first purchases.

Then we headed virtually next door to Forever 21.

This three-storey mega shop is the American chain’s latest opening, the first in Scotland, and it is absolutely vast.

Crowds of shoppers were browsing the fashion bargains, mainly trendy clothes for young men and women, when we got stuck in. Think of a posher Primark where every item is a must-have.

Leaving the store with packed bags, we then took a stroll down the rest of the famous Buchanan Street.

Apple, Urban Outfitters, Sketchers, Diesel, Gap.

These are just some of the names on the runway of style, said to be second only to Oxford Street in London in the UK for footfall - as well as steep store rental costs.

Shoppers can stop for a manicure at department store House of Fraser’s beauty emporium, where I also snatched up a perfume only found once before on holiday.

If it is diamonds you want, the historic Argyll Arcade of luxury jewellery shops is dripping in them.

One boutique called Rox Diamonds and Thrills even offers afternoon tea and champagne in its ‘thrill room’ for those who need a little break.

Well, it beats a Kit-Kat and a cuppa.

Away from the thoroughfare are several other streets jam-packed with shopping goodies to flash the plastic for.

For designer, including a Vivienne Westwood shop, go to Princes Square.

High-end high street is in shopping centre the Buchanan Galleries just next to the Buchanan Quarter.

And there are all the usual retailers, like mum’s favourite Marks and Spencer, then Topshop, as well as rather a lot of Starbucks, dotted around to boot.

Talking of shoes, after a few hours of purse opening our feet were starting to feel a little weary.

We headed back to find our hotel - with the unusual name Citizen M - just around the corner from the chinging tills.

I’m not sure what we expected exactly, perhaps a trouser press and a half-decent hairdryer if we were especially lucky.

It certainly wasn’t a bed half the size of the room, remote controlled mood lighting, electronic blackout blinds and music.

As the hotel doesn’t do single rooms both mum and I had our own space to dump our alarmingly high piles of bags.

Citizen M, which also has branches in London and Amsterdam, also offers free wi-fi and movies.

Food and drinks - including a divine sounding lavender cocktail - are on offer 24-7.

It was tough to tear ourselves away.

Eventually we braved the snow to head to the Corinthian Club, five floors of drinking, eating, gambling and partying all rolled into one.

The venue is housed in one of Glasgow’s most elaborate and richly decorated buildings.

It was created in 1842, on the site of the 18th century Virginia Mansion, and has also been the Glasgow Ship Bank and courts in its past lives.

The listed building was restored back to its former splendour in 1991. Now, diners are greeted by impossibly tall ceilings, sculptural plasterwork and free-standing classical figures.

We sat down among the extensive gold-leaf work and watched the world go by from a massive window, while sipping chilli and passionfruit creations, in the cocktail bar.

It felt naughty but nice, a bit like being tipsy in Chatsworth.

Dinner was impeccable, including soft scallops and a char-grilled prime Aberdeenshire steak for me.

Mum indulged in a salmon salad then a stuffed chicken supreme with dauphinoise potatoes, one of ‘the best’ she’d ever had.

We left the grand surroundings, passing the ubiquitous groups of men in kilts, and hopped into a taxi.

The driver, bizarrely, was from Yorkshire. He told us he’d come to Glasgow for six months and ended up staying.

I doubt he moved cities for the retail therapy but could see how that might just tempt you back.