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Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel Light Show begins tonight at 9.10pm to celebrate its reopening and becoming a voco hotel after multimillion pound rebrand

voco Grand Central Hotel projects a bright future

Historic images will be projected onto Glasgow’s iconic voco Grand Central Hotel in a stunning light show ahead of hospitality reopening


The light show will run for seven nights from Friday 23 April 2021 from 9.10pm, illuminating the hotel’s clock tower on Hope Street. With spectacular archive imagery documenting the vibrant history of the hotel; from the building of the station in 1870s, through the golden age of travel when Hollywood stars including Gene Kelly, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra stayed as guests, right up to the present day and celebrating the future as a voco hotel.

Following a call out for contributions, memories and pictures have been contributed by many Glaswegians, guests and former staff members. These have been captured in the projection alongside the words of Glaswegian playwright Laurie Motherwell in audio poetry which celebrates Grand Central’s cherished place at the beating heart of Glasgow for almost 140 years


The show marks the reopening of ‘Glasgow’s most loved hotel’ on April 26 following a multi-million refurbishment to become one of Scotland’s first voco branded hotels, part of IHG Hotels & Resorts, after more than a year of closure owing to Covid-19.

Paul Bray, Area Manager for IHG Hotels & Resorts UK North and General Manager of voco Grand Central Hotel said:

Thank you to the Herald and Glasgow Times, the Caledonian Railway Association and RCAHMS, who gave us access to their brilliant archive for the projection which honours the heritage of our building as a British Railway Hotel and a landmark in Glasgow’s story for the past 130 years. We’d also really like to thank Jill Scott and Bill Hicks, historians and writers of Grand Central, Glasgow’s Most Loved Hotel published by Waverley Books, whose research has been invaluable to us and we are grateful to have them as advocates for our unique story.”

Kate Pierce née Powell was a staff member at the hotel during the 1970s, starting as a bookkeeper in 1971 and later becoming Head Cashier. She responded to the hotel’s call for photos, submitting images and memories which have been included in the projection.


“At the time being British Transport Hotel trained carried great prestige, it was a privileged position and I have wonderful memories of my time living and working in the hotel, including the many interesting and famous guests. It’s lovely to have our memories featured in this special projection. We’re glad to see the hotel and its stories being preserved for generations to come by the voco brand and I look forward to visiting.”


The light show will run from Saturday April 24 – Thursday April 29. voco Grand Central Hotel requests visitors to the projection and passers-by respect social distancing throughout. Jill and Des go on BBC Scotland to discuss the launch of the book on the Grand Central Hotel


From its opening in 1883 as a British Railway Hotel, The Central Hotel as it was known for many years has long been a place where people would come together to spend special times. Connecting the second city of the empire to London, the evolution of the railway and its hotel offered increasing numbers of Victorians who could afford it the opportunity to take holidays in Glasgow, perhaps on their way to the Highlands and Trossachs. Leisure time was more freely available than it had ever been and many new pastimes evolved, including the enjoyment of tearooms, for which the palatial interiors of the hotel suited greatly.


The hotel was at the heart of innovation and global history including the first ever long distance television broadcast by John Logie Baird, from London to a room on the Hotel’s fourth floor. It was also where a young John F Kennedy met the survivors of the Clyde Built liner The Athenia, sunk by a U-boat in 1939 with many Americans on board. It was his first visit to the UK, having been sent by his father the US ambassador to support the survivors.


In the hotel’s golden age many of Hollywood greatest stars walked through its doors on the corner of Hope Street and Gordon Street, including Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis Junior, JFK, Vivien Leigh and Frank Sinatra. Since then it has continued to occupy a place at the heart of many Glaswegians who chose to celebrate weddings, Christmas and birthdays there; home to the city’s awards ceremonies and charity events, it’s greatly revered as Glasgow’s most loved hotel.


The recently refurbished voco Grand Central Hotel opened in March 2021 following a multi-million rebrand to become one of Scotland’s first voco™ hotels, part of IHG Hotels & Resorts.

The expansive refurbishment updated 230 bedrooms, meeting rooms and reception areas enhancing the historic charm and existing grandeur of the Grand Central Hotel with bold branding. A contemporary fresh palette of blues and voco signature yellow compliments the original Victorian architecture throughout the 19thcentury great British railway hotel, preserving memories of the hotel’s golden age, the stories of which are much loved by visitors to the hotel and Glaswegians alike. Guests can enjoy a new gallery wall featuring artworks which remembers many of its celebrity guests including John F Kennedy, John Lennon and Frank Sinatra.

CHAMPAGNE CENTRAL Aye Write event 2012 with The Grand Central Hotel

The hotel bar Champagne Central, overlooks Central Station and evokes the golden age of travel. Serving champagne, cocktails, afternoon tea and a new tapas menu celebrating the best of Scottish produce, guests can enjoy an afternoon or evening surrounded in glamour.


voco™ Hotels combines the reassurance of a big brand with the informality and charm of an individual hotel, providing guests with a dependably upscale experience. The name, voco™, means ‘to invite’ and ‘call together'. For more information and to book, visit, and stay connected with us on Facebook, and Instagram  

Jill Scott and Bill Hicks Talks

Journalists Jill Scott and Bill Hicks are available for bookings with their popular talks on:

1) The History of Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel by writers and researchers Jill Scott and Bill Hicks

Jill Scott and Bill Hicks researched the history of the hotel and wrote the book "Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel'

2) "When Sundays Brought the Post " - Jill Scott and Bill Hicks talk about the history of The Sunday Post.

Both journalists worked for The Sunday Post and entertain with many stories about journalism when The Sunday Post was the UK's highest selling Sunday national newspaper. Nostalgia, entertainment, breaking news - "Jill Scott and Bill Hicks give a warm, enjoyable talk on the history of the newspaper and their views on how journalism has changed" - praise received after a talk given in 2019.

Jill Scott and Bill Hicks can be contacted via this website - please just hit contact us and we will pass on any enquiries.

The pictures for this piece were taken in 2012 and do not reflect the hotel's rebrand. They are pictures taken in 2012 at the launch of the Glasgow Central Hotel book by Waverley Books.

All photographs taken by Liz Small and copyright Liz Small c/o Waverley Books

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