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03 May 2024

The Hotelier Edit: Andrew Doherty, General Manager, Dakota Glasgow

The Hotelier Edit: Andrew Doherty, General Manager, Dakota Glasgow


The Independent Hotel Show takes a trip north of the border to meet with Dakota Glasgow General Manager Andrew Doherty and learn about his journey from chef to GM, his approach to leadership, and the importance of always learning. 

We start by discussing Doherty’s personal history in the industry starting, as many in hospitality do, as a kitchen porter at the age of 15 in an Italian cafe in Glasgow.  

“I worked with them for a couple of years and progressed more into the food side of things,” he recalls. “It was very, very busy. I picked up a lot of the basics like pace, cleanliness and organisation, skills you almost don’t realise you’re gaining at the time.  

“The Head Chef had worked at big hotels like the Marriott in Glasgow and was very methodical and stringent in his processes. Some people who came through weren’t so accepting of that because it was seen as ‘just a cafe’, but I learned a lot.  

That same Head Chef gave Doherty a lead into his first official chef role, putting him in touch with his ex-commis chef Gary McLean, now well-known in the industry for his triumph on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2016.  

“That set me on a trajectory towards what I’ve ended up doing today,” Doherty continues. “I was in kitchens for 17 years before moving front of house, which I think is quite a unique aspect of my career.” 


Doherty joined Dakota Glasgow when the hotel opened eight years ago, becoming Head Chef in 2018 followed by Food & Beverage Manager, Hotel Manager and finally General Manager.  

Was there a culture shock moving from kitchens to front of house, we ask.  

“There are aspects of it that I was aware of, and I’d been very involved in what was happening front of house, you do build up a rapport with guests and go and meet them, “ he continues. “I’m still quite an insular person but there’s ways to work around that. We have a team that’s great at being great with people and I lead by trying to be great with our team and understanding of their perspectives.  

“When I was in the kitchen, I was a specialist, as it were, on the food. On looking after that product. So now I try and let my team’s specialisms and talent shine. Our bar team are making the cocktails and putting their knowledge into that, and we need to let their knowledge shine, enable them to do their jobs and play to their strengths. They need to know I’ve got their back.” 

Dakota Glasgow has a strong focus on the quality of its F&B offering, ensuring the restaurant has an identity and personality all of its own, one that can stand out in the wider food scene of Glasgow and be an attractive proposition for guests and external customers alike. The Dakota Grill offers a range of simple yet delicious classic using quality seasonal produce and promising visitors ‘the best steak in Glasgow’ with prime cuts from naturally reared Scotch cattle. 


“Sometimes the idea of a hotel restaurant as being ‘functional’ can be set in a guest’s mind, but hopefully that’s where we can surprise and delight,” continues Andrew. “We’re also fortunate in Glasgow that the restaurants are doing amazingly well and there are so many good eateries in the city. It’s really blown up over the past ten to 12 years. 

“It’s really important because if your skillset in a city is only at a certain level then you’re only learning from what’s around you. We need to have high standards and great talent and Glasgow’s on that trajectory.”  

Providing a luxury service 

While Dakota Glasgow is a luxury hotel designed, decorated and finished to high standards, Doherty argues that the team is what truly creates the luxury guest experience.  

“Once a build has been completed, the part of the experience that you control is your team,” he explains. “We’re quite a simple hotel in our offering. We try to do things right and correct things that don’t feel right. We want it to be a home away from home, to be comfortable and we have so many different types of guests including corporate guests who are here week in and week out and appreciate being acknowledged and greeted by the team.” 

While Dakota Glasgow had its challenging moments when it comes to recruitment and retention during the pandemic, the hotel has established a strong pattern of recruiting students for the entire four to five years they’re studying at one of the city’s several universities.  

“Hopefully they’re picking up some valuable life skills in terms of talking to our guests and learning about the products which will help in whatever they later go onto do,” Doherty continues. “The majority do stay for the full period they’re studying, and some move onto full time roles in finance, HR or marketing [with the Group]. We try and nurture their skillsets.” 


Brand partnerships 

Dakota Glasgow has an interesting history of working closely with events and brands looking for a bespoke hotel partnership.  

“We were the official hotel for the UCI Cycling Championships,” explains Doherty. “We were semi-rebranded with the UCI strips across the building. It was something we hadn’t explored before. They had exclusive use of the hotel and everything was branded, our elevators were branded, and they were here for nearly two weeks.  

“As you can imagine there was a peak day of check-in then it was a bit quiet, but it was a chance for our team to really pick up a rapport with the guests staying with us for a while.” 

Learn more, earn more 

Doherty discusses Dakota’s ‘Learn more, earn more’ imitative, which sees employees go through an interview process and is run as a two-to-three-month programme involving supplier visits, deep dives into different departments in the business and experiencing both back and front of house roles. The team members taking part can also receive wine training and at the end of the process will receive either a promotion or a pay rise.  

“It’s an exchange,” he says. “You come here to earn money, but we need to be delivering on what it is our team are looking to get out of being in a role. It’s not just about serving guests and cooking food. People have different things that matter to them, whether that's working hours and flexibility or education and learning new skills.  

“We need to allow our team to get those skills they can use in later life, and we need to know what they want from working here, beyond just getting paid at the end of it.” 

Our chat concludes with Doherty reflecting on what advice he would give to those entering the hospitality industry with his over two decades of experience.   


“This is something I reflect on often,” he admits. “I think it’s valuable to take certain elements slower. Embrace the environment you’re in and learn all you can from it. There’s a bit of a job-hopping culture which, if it’s the right thing for you to do then by all means, but there's also a lot to be said for staying in a place and soaking up everything you can learn from those around you and their perspectives.  

“Sometimes you can only gain that from some longevity in the roles you do. Certainly, in my chef days it was always about jumping from one kitchen to another, and it’s probably one of my regrets that in the earlier stages of my career I didn’t take more risks and encourage myself into environments that were less comfortable but were an opportunity to challenge yourself and learn and gain new skillsets. Stretching and taking a risk and going into an environment that’s hard, but seeing it through.” 

To learn more about Dakota Hotels in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds, head to  

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