Although it can't compete with Edinburgh's setting and architectural charms, Scotland's largest city Glasgow has quietly developed a reputation as a vibrant urban center and stylish cultural destination, thanks to, among other things, more than 200 active arts organizations and lingering remnants of the signature Art Nouveau architecture popularized by the renowned architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Scotland's tourism website (www.visitscotland.com) should be a starting point for an overview of tourism offerings throughout the country, whereas See Glasgow (tel. 44/141-566-0800; www.seeglasgow.com) is the well-designed website for the city itself. The site lists accommodations, such as the three-star Express by Holiday Inn Glasgow Riverside, starting from £22 per person, the recently renovated Albion Hotel, in the West End, from £28 per person, to the four-star Langs Hotel, a stylish modern property with rates from £60 per person. You can book all of these places right from the Glasgow site. Random piece of useful information: smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places in Scotland as of March 2006.
Travelers coming from the United States have a couple of options -- either try to find a direct flight or fly to London and hop on a budget carrier from there. After a cursory search, it seems that KLM and Northwest fly to Glasgow from New York and Continental and American fly to Glasgow from Newark. You can also opt for a flight into London and investigate budget flights on airlines like Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) or if you happen to live in Orlando or Boston, check out another budget carrier, Flyglobespan (www.flyglobespan.com), which flies to Glasgow. Remember that most of the low-budget carriers operate out of smaller airports away from city centers, so factor in several hours between connections.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) and Europe ASAP (tel. 415/750-5449; www.europeasap.com) had several packages available from city breaks to fly-and-drive specials to other independent offers, but the booking deadline expired before this story went live. It might be worth checking out these two sites in the event that the booking deadlines are extended or new offers are posted in the near future.
Continental Airlines Vacations (tel. 888/834-4435; ww2.covacations.com) has a special offer with bonus miles for travel and hotel accommodations at three hotels in Glasgow. You must book by March 1 and travel by August 15 and the special is available for five nights or longer. Five nights at The Novotel Centre, a contemporary four-star hotel located within walking distance of main shopping attractions, prices out at $1,237 per person, including taxes and fees and roundtrip nonstop airfare from Newark, NJ, to Glasgow, departing and returning on off-peak days. The package includes breakfast and the hotel has 24-hour room service.
Dooley Vacations (tel. 877/331-9301; www.dooleyvacations.com) is one of only a few places that actually offers a Glasgow city break package. Priced from $699 per person for January-April travel, including airfare from either New York-JFK or Boston (other departures are possible for different rates, of course), the package includes full Scottish breakfast daily, and accommodations at either Jury's Inn (first class) or One Devonshire Gardens (deluxe) for three nights, and standard Alamo car rental -- with the option to upgrade to chauffer. Or, if you want to start off in Glasgow but explore the surrounding countryside, the company's "Tartan Package" starts at $899 for departures January-March based also on either New York or Boston, with one night in a first-class Glasgow hotel and five nights in bed and breakfasts, along with a standard car rental with unlimited mileage and daily Scottish breakfast. If you want, you can also upgrade to "premier bed and breakfasts" upon booking. The rate rises to $1,039 for April departures and $1,049 for May.
For a trip that involves train travel in between several cities, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and London (in that order), European Destinations (tel. 877/267-2247; www.europeandestinations.com) has a flexible package for six nights, two apiece in each city, with train service in between each city. You can select the hotel you want, and choose the dates at your leisure and select a package with or without airfare. Weekday travel in March for this package is priced at about $550 per person, minus airfare, for moderate hotel stays. The price does not include transfers or tours, but you can add those as you book, if you like.
Hotels.com (tel. 800/246-8357; www.hotels.com) has a special on hotels in Europe including Glasgow. With rates as low as $74 per night for a for two-star Euro Hostel overlooking the River Clyde to the four-star Carlton George Hotel, located in the city center and priced from $243 per night, there are about two dozen properties to choose from, including international chains such as Radisson, Marriott and Hilton.
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