Budget hotels can be great, so where did it go wrong?

Structure failings aside, the Revolver looks nice, says our writer – Revolver

My word, the stories I could tell about my twenties and nights at the Polo Lounge in Glasgow’s Merchant City. But I won’t. Let’s just say everyone had a good time.

On a regular visit from London, I usually ended up at the nearby Brunswick Hotel, which I considered to be the epitome of elegance. I went there again last year and realized my expectations have changed over the years. It’s an inexpensive affair, and the design elements are held together with tape. The night I stayed, a girl had passed out with her music blasting some rooms. A staff member repeatedly knocked on her door at 3am, waking up everyone in the building who wasn’t already staring at the ceiling, driven mad by David Guetta’s tunes. I didn’t sleep well at night.

But hey, at least Brunswick has private bathrooms. This is not the case at the Revolver, a few blocks above the Polo Lounge itself, which, while not presenting itself as a gay hotel, is promoting itself as LGBTQ-friendly, with rooms for all budgets, from £25 to £300. The budget boutique hotel market is competitive these days, with the likes of Locke, Ruby, and citizenM offering ambitious design at affordable prices.

The classified nature of the building meant it was impossible to create fully accessible rooms - Revolver

The classified nature of the building meant it was impossible to create fully accessible rooms – Revolver

Things start off optimistic and promising at Revolver, with a giant neon sign in the downstairs hallway reading “Run Away with Me,” the title of one of Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchiest bops. Reception is upstairs, where there’s a large brick-walled lounge filled with cool-looking leather furniture, more neon, snacks and drinks, and a sign urging you to “have a gr8 adventure!” also informing you that checkout is 10am. I wondered if the people in the room across the hall knew this, when they reached a crescendo of deafening debauchery at 9am.

I had no idea my assigned room at Revolver didn’t have a bathroom until I was in it and couldn’t find one. I didn’t think hotels like this still existed. I went back to reception, baffled. They were apologetic and lovely but explained that only three rooms in the building had baths and they were all booked. The only other rooms available were dorm style, which would be a downgrade, as well as something I’ve never experienced and never will.

“I had no idea my room assigned at Revolver didn’t have a bathroom until I walked into it and found it” – Revolver

I went back, only to find that the shower and shared toilet closest to me were unusable – the lock was missing. The next morning, I had to venture down the hall with my towel to another shower room, which lacked body wash or shampoo in its wall mounted dispensers. Resourceful as always, I built an emergency cleaning feature from Colgate in my wash bag, which I don’t recommend.

Structural failings aside, the Revolver’s appearance is pleasing. Rather than going with predictable queer imagery, the hotel has a musical theme. My bedroom had a mural of the band Haim – of which I’m a huge fan – and a futuristic chandelier that was a somewhat broken imitation of something expensive and Italian.

A capsule-style dormitory in Revolver - Revolver

A capsule-style dormitory in Revolver – Revolver

Revolver is clearly the result of a difficult building conversion – the protected nature of the building meant that it was impossible to create fully accessible rooms. But there’s no reason they couldn’t have installed soft-close doors. The noise from the club downstairs wasn’t particularly bothersome and the proximity of the hotel is the whole point of being here. I’ve lived above nightclubs before and figured out what I was getting into. I enjoyed being close to the action and a staggering distance from home. But the slamming of doors after midnight everywhere is unbearable.

I didn’t feel like spending time in my room, so I went to El Santo, the spin-off restaurant of Revolver, or rather “Latin American bar”, nearby, for dinner. There was a DJ by the door and a dancer making her way through the feather-festooned room. I braced myself for a new hell but was blown away by some of the best food I ate in Glasgow. It’s ambitious cuisine, with crispy frog legs in truffle mayonnaise on a menu featuring the otherwise predictable (but superb) empanadas and ceviches. The cod cheek and pulled beef tacos were heaven, as was a charcoal grilled pork belly with banana puree. The cocktails I tried were also outstanding, especially an El Dorado Old Fashioned, with chocolate and banana in the mix.

The lounge upstairs;  full of cool looking leather furniture - Revolver

The lounge upstairs; filled with cool looking leather furniture – Revolver

After El Santo I headed to the Polo Lounge to revisit the ghosts of my youth. It was still as I had remembered and experienced it: imagined with leather-tufted furniture and hundreds of candles, and a basement dance floor perfect for tequila-fueled misadventures. I was by far the oldest person in there, but it was quite a trip down memory lane before retiring to my upstairs room to count down the hours until the train back to London, and returning home to my flat with the his bathrooms galore (both of them!), each with full bottles of Aesop body products and locks on the doors.


Double rooms from £60. There are no accessible rooms

Revolver, 62 Virginia Street, Glasgow G1 1TX

Telephone: 0141-260 5001

Mark C. O’Flaherty traveled as a guest on Avanti West Coast, which runs hourly trains from London to Glasgow, from £33 one way (forwardwestcoast.co.uk)

Have you visited Revolver in Glasgow? Tell us about it in the comments section below

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