It was a huge mistake: Walking into the brasserie of my hotel, Malmaison, in Glasgow wearing the kilt I’d bought a few years ago in Edinburgh for Hogmonay. Maybe I could get by with a kilt in Edinburgh or maybe it was just because it was Hogmonay and I looked positively stylish compared to the chaps wearing “see-you-Jimmy” hats along with their kilts (a “see-you-Jimmy” hat, if you don’t know, is a Scottish tartan cap with red hair attached. As they say in Scotland, “Wi a hat like that, ye canna miss.”). But obviously I couldn’t get away with wearing a kilt in Glasgow. Certainly not at the Malmaison.
I love these little boutique hotels but it seems very odd to me to name a hotel the “bad house,” particularly this one which was once an Episcopal Church. (The bar and brasserie are downstairs in what was once the church crypt.)
Anyway, the young receptionist, wearing a very chic pin-stripe pant suit and a silk top, greeted me with, “Oh, my!” As if were the first time she’d ever seen a grown man’s hairy legs.
She looked around the almost empty bar and then pointedly led me to a table in the back. Away from the smartly-attired group of business associates celebrating some financial victory of one sort or another with a bottle of Dom Perignon, and away from the dining room proper where young couples, dressed is so much black they could have out-gloomed a room full of New Yorkers, were flirting over tea lights flickering in pale blue glasses.
No sir, I was led to a little corner table next to the kitchen door where, when I’d first checked in and taken a peak at the bistro, I’d noticed two bored-looking wait-staff sullenly folding white linen napkins. Well, what did I expect.
So I ordered a glass of smoky Lagavulin and nursed it for a good hour. Then I went upstairs and took a bath, the water in the pipes coming out the color of the whisky I’d just finished and having the same peaty smell as my wee dram. I only wish I’d had a “see-you-Jimmy” hat to wear in the tub.