Hillhead is home to the Great Western Infirmary (North Glasgow University NHS Trust) and to Glasgow University as well as the University Campus which now spreads across much of the district and inhabits many of its more grand townhouses and terraces.
As with many other parts of the West End, the character of the area itself is a result of the manner in which the buildings have been carefully maintained by their owners through the years. This is largely assisted by the University itself which has gradually acquired and preserved a large number of the buildings which extend beyond the immediate confines of its position on Gilmorehill.
The bulk of Hillhead was constructed on one of Glasgow’s several drumlins which has its highest point at the junction between Gibson Street and Hillhead Street.
Much of the effect of this feature is concealed by the University campus boundary which forms much of the southern boundary of Hillhead and shields the best views over Kelvingrove Park for its staff and students.
A walk into the main campus is highly recommended as is the view south over Kelvingrove and the city from the main elevation
Glasgow University is widely regarded as Scotland’s foremost University (particularly by people in Glasgow) and many of its 20 000 students choose to live around the edges of its enlarged campus. This obviously places a great demand for property in the area, although the demand is mainly towards the Great Western Road and Byres Road edges which are generally more affordable.
As a consequence today the area is in great demand which is reflected in both purchase and letting prices.
Cresswell Lane extends the theme created by Ashton Lane but still has a more boho chic feel than its more bar chic of its trendy neighbour.
The Botanic Gardens is another feature of this area as it lies to the immediate North of Great Western Road and is well used by the local residents.
Hillhead residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to parks since Kelvingrove Park also forms around its southern edge beyond Gilmorehill.
There are fantastic transportation links into the City Centre either by bus or by Underground which is accessed from Hillhead Underground station on Byres Road.
The city centre is within walking distance as is Glasgow University on University Avenue, Western Hospital on Dumbarton Road and the BBC on Queen Margaret Drive.
There are many bars, pubs and clubs, the most notable being along Ashton Lane which has become the central social watering hole for Glasgow’s Great and Good. The Ubiquitous Chip is a restaurant of international repute and is normally booked up months in advance as is Room at One Devonshire Gardens which lies to the immediate west of Dowanhill on Great Western Road.
Schools are good and are well above the national average. There are also a large number of Independent Schools in the area which provide education of an international standard.
The tenement buildings are predominately between 4 and 5 stories in height treated externally in buff colour sandstone obtained from local quarries. Unlike its wealthier neighbour Dowanhill there is less in the way of green space or amenity.
The tenements reflect the speculative nature of their construction and the fact that their development began in the late 19th Century when the area was already established with the correspondent increase in land values.
The buildings facades are generally plain with some decorative features around entrances and window on the front elevation. Some of the more spacious properties have ornate bay windows or elegant steps with wrought iron railings leading up to the front entrances.
Closes (internal common areas within the building) are often elaborately decorated with period wall tiling to dado height which frequently extends up the entire stair.
The buildings to the east and south are larger and more grand many being classical villas which were built in the earlier part of the 18th Century when the area was largely owned by the Gibson Family.
Today the majority of residential property is apartments, usually in a purpose built tenement block but occasionally in a converted townhouse or villa. The quality of accommodation is generally high but varies according to location.
As a general rule of thumb the closer a property is to University Avenue the better its standard of accommodation. The southern boundary adjacent to University Avenue was always desirable as it was always close to the Park and the Gilmorehill Estate.
The terraces which line Great Western Road are also always in demand. These predate most of the tenemental housing stock and were generally created as townhouses but are mostly converted into flats.
As with much of the West End’s housing stock, some of the earlier conversions which were carried out in the 1950s and 60s are of a poorer standard as they were converted to accommodate the rapidly expanding student and staff population of Glasgow University and the Western Infirmary when purchase costs were lower.
As prices are not as high in Hillhead as they are in Dowanhill, Kelvinside or Hyndland there is a larger percentage of this type of accommodation in the area particularly since this more affordable accommodation is eagerly snapped up by students.
Letting Hints and Tips
41-80 Oakfield Avenue southern end)
Southpark Avenue (southern end)
Hillhead is a vibrant and bohemian place to rent a flat with a large student community. Points to watch out for are as follows:
Students: There are a lot of them around. This generally adds to the appeal of the area however not at 2 am when the pubs / clubs are closing and your student neighbours party is just getting started. Be careful where you are renting if you are not a student and do not want to suffer the inevitable downsides of living inside one of Scotland’s largest student campus’. Ask your potential landlord about the possibility of noise. Are the adjoining properties rented out? If so find out more about the nature of the leases before committing yourself to the property.
Limited wheelchair access / provision: As in the Park Area many of the streets are on inclines. This coupled with the steps to the raised ground floors of many properties mean that the area is less suitable for wheelchair users or anyone with physical impairment.
Flat Hunting: Try to avoid the peak periods of August and September if possible. November and December is quieter. If possible try to look for property in May or June when there is a downturn in demand from students and lecturers in particular.
Byres Road: Flats above retail premises on Byres Road can offer great value accommodation however the area is very busy and noisy particularly at the weekends so if you like peace and quiet opt for the quieter streets which run off Byres Road itself. If you are determined to let in Byres Road then try to opt for a flat with a bedroom to the rear of the property which will be slightly quieter.
Great Western Road: The same applies to Great Western Road but with rather loud bells on. Cleopatra’s nightclub at one end Oranmor at the other with a string of pubs and fast food eateries strung in between do not usually make for Zen like tranquillity. Please also remember that both roads are very congested throughout the day and are best avoided by car if possible.
Studio Flats: Studio flats are very few in number. As renting costs are slightly lower than its more upmarket neighbours consider renting a one bedroom flat towards the north of the area.
Family Homes: There is little demand for family accommodation in the Hillhead area. We would suggest looking further a field to Kelvinside which is slightly quieter and more family orientated but which still has that close to the city buzz about it.