Posted by: christinelaennec | July 5, 2014

The Willow Tea Rooms (Sauchiehall Street)

I was really delighted to read that the future of the iconic Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street is now secure, after being taken over by a charitable trust.  I have always really liked Charles Rennie Mackintosh design, and this tea room is important because it was one where Mackintosh had a say in every aspect of the building, decor and even the waitresses’ uniforms.

It opened in 1904, and as I seem to have lost my own photo of the outside, here is one from Wikipedia:

The Willow Tearooms on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.  Photo from Wikipedia.

The Willow Tearooms on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. Photo from Wikipedia.

I’ve written about the Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street, which are similarly located above a shop.  But there isn’t anything particularly distinctive about the exterior of the tea rooms on Buchanan Street, whereas the ones on Sauchiehall Street present a very unified statement, unmistakably complementing the interior.

As you come through the shop on the bottom (which now sells CRM souvenirs), you first come up a flight of stairs to the tea room on the mezzanine.  Before you even reach the tea rooms, the stairs and wall make a very distinctive statement about the design sensibility that awaits at the top:

The first-floor tea room of the Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.  March 2014.

Stairs to the mezzanine tea room of the Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. March 2014.

The mezzanine tea-room is well-lit by the skylights above.  Even on a dark, rainy day, the white paint keeps it bright inside:

From the corner table.

The mezzanine tea room, from the corner table.

There is a large central well in the middle:

Looking across the large central well.

Looking across the large central well.

I really like the details:

At the back of the first-floor tea room.  Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. March 2014.

At the back of the mezzanine tea room. Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. March 2014.

The waitresses have black dresses and white aprons, which looks very old-fashioned to us – but their knee-length skirts would have caused the original patrons to faint:

Another view of the first floor, on another day.

Another view of the mezzanine tea room, on another day.

The “Room de Luxe” is on the first floor (for US readers, second floor), and was designed to be “light and feminine” according to the Willow Tea Rooms website.

Room de luxe??  Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Room de Luxe on the first floor.  Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.  This window stretching across the building is what you see from the outside.

On a recent visit to the tea rooms, there was an exhibition in a room on the top floor, which I had never seen.  Again, the decorative details were intriguing:

Fireplace in a room on the top floor, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Fireplace in a room on the top floor, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

While still a light room, the dark wood made quite a contrast to the tea rooms on the floors below:

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

I really like Mackintosh’s use of stained glass – which may well have been designed by his wife, Margaret MacDonald.  As you will have noticed, patterns of squares are a recurrent motif, as well as the teardrop and the rose.

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

Upstairs room, Willow Tea Rooms, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

You may have heard that Glasgow suffered a dreadful blow when the Glasgow School of Art, designed by Mackintosh, was devastated by fire recently.  I had always wanted to go there, but was waiting until the Dafter was well enough to go with me.  Alas, now I’ll never be able to see the original library.  But as it’s one of the best-documented rooms in the country, I’m sure it will be beautifully restored.

So the news that the future of the Sauchiehall Street Willow Tea rooms is secure is particularly welcome.

I hope you’re all having a good weekend!

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Responses

  1. I am so glad to hear this news. I had heard the shop was closing and wondered what would happen to the tea rooms. I think its the nicest tea room in Glasgow and their food is delicious! Hope you are all well.

  2. Beautiful. Good to see so much was saved from the fire.

  3. It is a delight to see the tea rooms in all their glory, wonderful they have been saved from closure. I too am a great fan of the Macintosh design.

  4. Glad to hear about the security of the tea rooms, Christine. I would love to have a cup of tea there some day.

  5. Fell in love with Mackintosh myself in 1990. With the many visits to Glasgow since I have never made it to the tea room. My goal for this years visit!!

  6. What a grand tea room! I especially like the stained glass, and I am glad you enjoyed exploring Mackintosh’s . xx

  7. That is good news! What a beautiful place to have some tea and treats.

  8. Such a lovely tour of the tearoom!!! Glad it will be around awhile! It’s so fun that you can get out and take photos and post things like this for us all to read!!!


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