Design Focus: The Glynhill Hotel

February 3rd, 2017 | Posted in: Features

When Harry Nicholas bought the mansion house in Renfrew, that is now the Glynhill Hotel in 1967, he could hardly have imagined that today some 50 years later the hotel would still be a force to be reckoned in the hospitality business. Today the business is owned by Harry’s daughter Maroulla, who is MD, Ross and Daso. In fact, Maroulla remembers well the week that they took ownership of the mansion because she and her brothers had to help clean it, before being treated to icecream cones!

Today it has grown from a 22 roomed hotel, into Renfrew’s only fully serviced hotel complete with 147 rooms, bars, restaurants, a function suite for 350 and a leisure club. In the last two and half years alone the family have invested some £2.5m in the hotel. Maroulla explains, “We get a lot of guests from England, and while there was still uncertainty with regard to the Referendum we had held back a bit on investing, but as soon as we decided to ‘stay’ we got our cheque book out.”

As for the current uncertainty, Maroulla definitely believes it is having an impact on the business, but she feels that if they don’t keep investing in the hotel business would be restricted. She says, “You can’t stand still. We’ve improved our efficiency by sending our staff on courses, and we’ve implemented changes in our processes. In fact, we’ve saved more than £50K with the changes we have brought in.”

However, the biggest changes have been in the hotel itself. Marketing Manager Ross McLauchlan comments, “One of the first enhancements we made was to create a Champagne Terrace outside of the Barony banqueting suite. This was to enhance our wedding offering. At the same time, we also redecorated the function suite and re-upholstered the chairs. It freshened the suite up. Just lately we have put down a new bespoke zebra-style carpet and put in new partitioning.”

The reception area, bar and restaurant have also been revamped. New Amtico-like flooring has been laid throughout, supplied by Select Contract Furniture and Grand Thistle wallpaper from Timorous Beasties has been used in the reception area and in the restaurant. While the bar has a designer cream weave paper which compliments the new bar furniture which was also supplied by Select Furniture. The cool contemporary looking chairs in vivid purple, cream and striped fabric, can it together.

Says Jeff Taylor of Select Furniture, “When you work with Maroulla you know she is looking for sophistication and quality and she wants it to look aesthetically good. She is also looking for furniture which is unusual. Luckily we work with a lot of sole agencies here and abroad who are happy to make bespoke furniture. The furniture in the cocktail bar is eye-catching and unusual in that the seats are circular and fit together. She has also gone for opulent fabrics for the curtains throughout the hotel.”

He continues, “In the function suite the zebra design carpet was bespoke – Maroulla had an idea in her head and we worked together to ensure that we tweaked it until she got what she wanted. She has a habit of getting what she wants!” Although all the public areas have been refreshed it’s the bedrooms that really have accounted for much of the spend. All of the hotels standard rooms have been upgraded and 45 boutique bedrooms have been created which now have the wow factor. Everything has been replaced from the beds to the bathrooms. The hotel has also created three more bedrooms having transformed storage rooms into a threeroom apartment, which can also be sold as single rooms.

Explains Ross, ‘In the apartment, we have installed a kitchen and a small seating area. It can be hired as one three-bed apartment or we can separate the rooms and sell them individually.”

He continues, “All in all it took between six and eight months to finish the two floors of bedrooms. All that remains for us to do now is the Club Rooms. The Carvery has also been refreshed having been re-decorated. Now the Carvery hosts the hotel’s evening guests, with the hotel’s evening food operation, being amalgamated into the carvery.

Says Jeff of Select, “We put in new fitted seating in the carvery, and new voile curtains. This has made this area more intimate.”

Says Ross, “We wanted to improve the hotel experience for everyone, but our over-riding priority was creating a more attractive wedding venue and I think we have done that.”

Maroulla comments, “It’s very rewarding seeing the changes. It’s my job to drive the business forward and I try and do something fresh every day. When I arrive in the morning I drive in and look at the hotel as if I am seeing it for the first time. This means we are continuously improving our offering. But that’s not all we are also investing in our staff too. For instance, all our key managers have been through a Business Improvement Course, me too! Next, our supervisors will be going through it.”

She continues, “We have to stand on our own two feet. There is not a lot of support out there for businesses like ours, but what there is we embrace. Right now I am focussing on improving our service in the hotel. One of the business improvement coaches said that it takes 40 times to make an action a habit, I try to keep that in mind when it comes to staff many of whom have been with us for many, many years.”

It’s not just staff that stay the course at the Glynhill, suppliers do too. Her architect Robert Hirst of G D Lodge has worked with her for more than 30 years. Says Maroulla, “My father used to say If you treat your customers well and treat your staff and suppliers the same you will always have a business. Certainly, our success has been due to, in no small part, to our relationships with our suppliers.”

Says Robert Hirst, “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the Nicholas family and of course the refurbishment of the hotel is ongoing. The scenario is that when you improve parts of the hotel the worse the other parts look, so it’s a bit like refurbishing the Forth Bridge. Maroulla can’t afford to stand still, especially as the competition improves. It means that she has to stay ahead of the game, if not ahead of it. What we do is ensure that she is offering facilities for the clients that she is trying to attract. It’s certainly challenging but it is interesting too.”

He continues, “The expectations of customers are high and they expect a standard of facility that is better than in their own homes, whether they are business customers or leisure customers. One of our ongoing challenges has been to take the dated extensions which were added shortly after the original building was acquired and make these incongruous buildings look a part of the overall development both externally and internally, and the other challenge is that it is a very linear site.

“So we have to co-ordinate the various spaces so that they lead into one another. For instance, we can add balance – the juxtaposition of the modern flooring in the reception area, which leads to a grand traditional staircase is an example. The quality of the materials reflects the quality of the hotel. Much of the credit for the internal finishes and design is due to Maroulla and my associate Alec Milne who works most closely with her. Generally, Maroulla gets what she wants, by one means or another.”

He concludes, “The next phase, which is imminent is the upgrading of the Club Rooms. We are planning new en-suites. The Nicholas family have taken a business that they have inherited and have driven it forward. Maroulla particularly has done a great job.” The last word, as usual, goes to Maroulla, “I believe it is better to make a mistake than to do nothing at all. Sometimes people don’t embrace change, but I do!” She certainly does.

New owners at Braeval Hotel

Thu 16th May 2019

Paul and Lyndy Geddes have taken over the Braeval Hotel and Bandstand Bar and Restaurant in Nairn. Lyndy was previously a director in an omb... Read more.

Max McFarlane joins the Ardgowan Distillery team

Thu 16th May 2019

Whisky maker Max McFarlane has joined the Ardgowan Distillery team – with a plan to create and release a new series of whiskies later thi... Read more.

McEwan’s Lager relaunches

Wed 15th May 2019

The new look McEwan’s Lager launches in on-trade this month.... Read more.

Today’s your last chance to enter the Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt 105’ Cask Strength Cocktail Competition!

Wed 15th May 2019

Today’s the cut-off for entering the Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt ‘105’ Cask Strength Cocktail Competition – so get your... Read more.

Brand News: Avva Scottish Gin

Wed 15th May 2019

CASK FINISH GIN FROM AVVA SCOTTISH GIN AVAILABLE TO TRADE CUSTOMERS FOR THE FIRST TIME The latest release of Cask Finish Gin from the brand ... Read more.

Brand News: Loch Lomond Whiskies

Wed 15th May 2019

Loch Lomond Whiskies’ Loch Lomond 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky has triumphed at the Bartenders’ Brand Awards, including the to... Read more.

Mixologists causing a stir

Tue 14th May 2019

Today we profile DANIEL ELPHINSTONE of Orchid in Aberdeen and DAVID GODDARD of Bar One, Inverness.... Read more.

Mixologists causing a stir

Mon 13th May 2019

Today it's the turn of DIMI SAVVAIDIS The King of Islington Dundee and DANNY MCMANUS Kelvingrove Cafe Glasgow .... Read more.

WEST Brewery initiates employee ownership scheme

Mon 13th May 2019

WEST Brewery founder Petra Wetzel has established a Share Incentive Plan (SIP) and placed an initial 10% of the company’s shares into... Read more.


Thu 9th May 2019

The Scottish government‘s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) of 20p has been branded ‘ridiculous’ by one licensee, while others t... Read more.

New look for The Ploughman

Thu 9th May 2019

The Plough constellation is also known as The Big Dipper and the new-look bar at The Ploughman in Peterculter is hopefully set for anything ... Read more.


Thu 9th May 2019

So far, the secret location of Glasgow’s only underground speakeasy, Wheesht, has been kept under wraps. ... Read more.

Mixologists causing a stir

Thu 9th May 2019

This month we profile 10 of the best and today it's the turn of Jamie Swift of Edinburgh's Dragonfly and Sarah Berardi of Draffens in Dunde... Read more.

Dundee’s Blue Room

Wed 8th May 2019

AJ McMenemy, the operator behind the Dundee-based Macmerry 300 group that owns The King of Islington, Abandon Ship and Bird & The Bear has o... Read more.

Mixologists causing a stir

Wed 8th May 2019

This month we profile ten of the best, and today it's the turn of ELLIE RAESIDE of Tonic in Edinburgh and JOHNNY MORRISON of Blue Dog in Gla... Read more.


Tue 7th May 2019

Straight talking from our very own publisher, Sue Young!... Read more.

How rosy is the Cider category in Scotland’s on-trade?

Tue 7th May 2019

If cider had an emoji it would be one with a big smile and two plump shiny apple-red cheeks because in Scotland cider is experiencing both v... Read more.

Mixologists causing a stir

Tue 7th May 2019

This month we profile ten of the best, staring with STEFANIE ANDERSON of Bon Vivant in Edinburgh and JEFFREY BERRAOUI of Tippling House in... Read more.


Fri 3rd May 2019

The Beatles and Frank Sinatra are just two of the big names that have graced the stage at Dundee’s Caird Hall and now it’s playing host ... Read more.

Design Focus: Damm 27

Thu 2nd May 2019

Edinburgh’s Damm 27 is the brainchild of operator, Andy McCartney, who is leasing the bar from Star Pubs and Bars, who have spent £300k o... Read more.