Design Focus: The Grahamston

Hotel bars can sometimes be guilty of drab and unimaginative interior designs. But the £1.2m redesign of The Grahamston Bar at The Radisson Blu on Glasgow’s Argyle Street has been executed with imaginative flair, and could in no way be considered safe, rigid or corporate. Named after a long-gone area of the city, the remains of which are buried beneath Central Station, The Grahamston is the work of designer Jim Hamilton of Graven Images.

There are three different zones: The 90-cover Bar, 89-cover Kitchen and
36-cover Snug. There’s also a back, windowless area containing a servery and lots of long posing tables and booth seating.

As well as the new interior design there’s also a raft of other new additions, like payment systems and booking platforms, plus a new beefed-up offering on the gantry. Explained Operations Manager Aidan Humphries, “We’ve massively increased the product range behind the bar, from eight malts to 40, while the other spirit range has increased from 20 to 160. We’ve also increased the total seating capacity (including the back area) from 80 to 200.”

Dan Atkinson is Area Marketing Manager for Radisson Hotels. He said, “It’s a restaurant and bar that happens to be in a hotel. We definitely see this design as marking it out as a destination bar and restaurant. The concept has shaped the design which I’d describe as having an industrial feel, combining elements of old and new. All the staff have been fully briefed on Grahamston concept because we expect that guests will be inquisitive about the design and what lies behind it.”

So what’s it like?

You enter from the hotel’s main reception area via a ‘doorway’ that’s been constructed from metal shelving that contains lots of interesting and tasteful objet d’art. There’s everything from some lovely paintings of Scotland to a big shiny lobster ornament.

The walls are plain white and, when paired with the white and black veined marble floor, give the space clean lines. But there are also many striking elements to the design, and perhaps the most ‘pop-out’ element is the central bar. Mainly on account of the lighting all around the top of the oblong structure. It’s essentially a fairly simple design otherwise, being constructed of veined white marble, a plain marble bar top and silver metal gantry shelves supporting that ‘pelmet of light’. The bar has stools upholstered in a mustard yellow fabric and that go all the way around the bar.

Between the bar and the huge wall of windows is The Kitchen. This area contains a mixture of orangey-brown horseshoe-shaped booths and marble tables. These have been paired with chairs that’ve been upholstered in a light blue material. There are also some rather interesting big grey pendant lampshades in dove-grey that run above the seating along the back wall. They kind of resembled a curved tiled roof, the ‘tiles’ overlapping one another.

But perhaps the biggest standout/talking point feature is also on the back wall. It’s a huge daring black and white mural that looks amazing. Art Pistol is the outfit behind it. I’m no art expert but I suppose that it could be best described as abstract as well as depicting two distinct male faces.
Below the mural is the entrance to the snug. This used to house pool tables but it’s now been transformed into a plush carpeted area, complete with huge flame-effect gas fire. The horseshoe booths have also been installed in here too. There are also some interesting fixed black pendant lights hanging down from the ceiling with saucer-shaped shades.

This is one hotel bar that I’d make a beeline for, open to both hotel guests and non-hotel guests, obvs, and I’m sure that it’ll fulfil its ambition to become a destination bar for many Glaswegians.

Jason Caddy

Category: Design, Editors' Picks
Tags: Glasgow, jason caddy, The Grahamston, The Radisson Blu