Bit of trivia first. The first Wetherspoons pub to open in Scotland was in Glasgow ...the Counting House just off George Square in 1996. It used to be a Bank of Scotland ... I used to have an account there when I was a student, many moons ago.
So Glasgow's had nearly 20 years to get to know this pub chain and the people in this town who love Wetherspoons like the fact that they provide an inexpensive night out in handy, central locations. Those who don’t deride them as soulless and sterile locations … too big to provide any proper pub atmosphere.
So who's right?
Being a fan of a cut-price beer AND a hostelry with a nice atmosphere, I popped in to the Crystal Palace in Glasgow city centre to try and find out the truth.
First impressions as you walk in is that’s a big, bustling boozer. It seems very popular and sprawls over two floors. The ground floor provides a more traditional pub environment with a big screen for the football while the first floor is more suited to dining. There’s a few booths as well upstairs and lots of people having meals which gives it a more relaxed, restaurant-type feel.
The students aren’t revolting
But here’s a thing I don’t understand. There were tables and tables of students in for food when I was in. It was after 6pm and they were all drinking SOFT DRINKS!!! Even though they must have just received their student loans. Don’t students drink these days??? They were very polite too. They can't have been British. Shocking behaviour, if you ask me.
But ale not be drinking that…
The Crystal Palace isn’t particularly pricey. A pint of Heineken in the pub chain’s January sale will set you back a very tasty £2.49. And even when there’s not a sale on, you should be able to get a lager for just under £3. They also stock a wide selection of real ales if that’s your favourite swally.
I personally don't know that much about real ales and always go for the safe lager option ... but a lot of people do and trust me, they will be well catered for here. There's an impressive array of ales on display.
But I do know a bit about bar snacks. They’ve got crisps, mini cheddars, peanuts and even cashew nuts if you’re trying to impress someone. That’s in addition to their wide of selection of meals. The weekly steak night and also the separate curry night mean this pub is packed out most evenings with hungry, cost-conscious customers.
When it comes to service, the bar staff are kept busy here and sometimes they seem to be a bit thin on the ground when you're choking for a pint. However, as Take That once said, have a little patience.
You might have to wait a wee bit longer to get served when it’s hoachin' as they are inundated with food orders. But they’re a polite bunch. And your nice cold pint makes the wait worthwhile
When you gotta go, you gotta go …
The toilets were absolutely spotless when I visited. And there were ample baby changing and disabled facilities too. But what makes these loos is the futuristic hand-dryers. They will have your hands bone dry in a matter of seconds. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal but trust me, they are a wonder of the modern world!
So there it is. I’d ignore the pub snobs and head to the Crystal Palace for a cheap pint. It’s a big bar that won’t break the bank.
Scores out of five
Bar snacks/meals 4
Quality of lager 4
Total 20 out of 25
Enjoyed a night out? Then get in touch!
I'd love to know where you enjoy a drink in and around Glasgow. Let me know your pub opinions and suggestions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org