Friday, 16 May 2003

From the Glasgow Hilton

The best word to describe the Glasgow Hilton is unappealing. It is a tall, narrow building, a twenty-storey architect's photocopy of myriad other undistinguished hotels and office blocks around the world. On one side lies a red-light district, on the other lies a flaking concrete morass of motorway, bridge and slip road that writhes around the incongruously well kept front lawn. The pedestrian's approach from the city centre is through an unlit tunnel coated in pigeon crap and up the slip ramp dodging taxis.



From my room on the fourteenth floor all the architectural and locational tediousness is easily forgiven. I can see far beyond the fringes of the city, where the low hills that fringe the entire horizon stand grey and quiet. I am part of the sky that fades from a clear blue above to a dark blue and sunset oranges elsewhere, scabbed in places with small cloud scuds. In the further reaches of the city, the shiny metal dome of the exhibition centre glints in the remaining sun, and the glass front of an office block holds a funfair mirror up to distort the surrounding houses.



The thick double-glazing drains the road roar of volume so that the traffic forty metres below moves with a pleasant synchronicity. As night falls each car pours a shimmering pool of orange light in front, drags a glowing carpet of red behind it and dances a complex moonwalk through cones, lorries and exit lanes.



All this, and the room service breakfast is quite good too.



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