In 1944, the Scottish Division of the British Hotels and Restaurants Association, acting in consultation with the Scottish Education Department, proposed the establishment of a school of hotel management at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College. The College Governors responded favourably and arrangements were rapidly put in place, with the first 32 students commencing their studies at the new Scottish School of Hotel Management on 12 September that year. The two-year course combined classroom instruction with practical experience of all branches of hotel work, leading to a Diploma in Hotel Management.
In 1948, the Scottish School of Hotel Management moved from the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College buildings in Pitt Street to Ross Hall, a Victorian mansion house in Crookston, obtained on lease from the Corporation of Glasgow. A new Management Committee was also set up to oversee the running of the School. This comprised nominees of the Hotel and Restaurant Association, nominees of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College, and a representative from the Trades Union Council. The Management Committee reported to the Director of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College, Dr Eric Thomson, who acted as Principal of the Scottish School of Hotel Management. In April 1948, the Management Committee agreed that the School’s name should be changed to the Scottish Hotel School and that a Director should be appointed, who would report to the Principal of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College. Roger Dutron, formerly Principal of the Hotel School at Grenoble, France, was appointed to the post of Director as from October 1948. His wife, who had been Housekeeper at Grenoble, was also appointed Housekeeper at Ross Hall.
The acquisition of Ross Hall enabled the Scottish Hotel School to become the only residential school of hotel management in the UK. Training commenced there in October 1948 and the building effectively functioned like a hotel, with students acting as ‘staff’ and ‘guests’ in rotation. Initially both male and female students were accommodated at Ross Hall, but concerns of over-familiarity between the sexes led to the establishment of Mellanby Hall, a separate hall of residence for female students, in 1953. When the Scottish College of Commerce (as the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College was by then known) secured the outright purchase of Ross Hall in 1962, a new residential block for male students was erected at the back of the building, and female students were subsequently brought back to Ross Hall from Mellanby Hall.
In 1964, the Scottish College of Commerce merged with the Royal College of Science and Technology to form the University of Strathclyde. The Scottish Hotel School consequently became a department of the University, and a BA degree programme in Hotel and Catering Management was introduced in 1965, running in parallel with the Diploma course until the latter ceased in 1968. The option to take a fourth year of study leading to an Honours degree was subsequently introduced, with the first two Honours students graduating in 1979. From 1972, the Scottish Hotel School offered a Postgraduate Diploma/Masters degree course in Tourism, and a Postgraduate Diploma/Masters degree course in Hotel Administration was introduced in 1983.
In 1968, the Scottish Hotel School established a Scottish Tourist Industry Consultancy Service at Ross Hall, with financial support from the Scottish Tourist Board and the Highlands and Islands Development Board. This was a ground-breaking initiative in the UK, recognising the significance of tourism both as a growth industry and as a subject for academic study.
When the University of Strathclyde sold Ross Hall in 1981, the Scottish Hotel School moved back to the city centre, taking up purpose-built accommodation in the Curran Building, above the University of Strathclyde Library. The Scottish Hotel School continued to offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in tourism and hospitality management, and to attract students and visiting scholars from all over the world, until it closed permanently in 2009. Continuing students were transferred to the Strathclyde Business School, which continues to offer courses in tourism and hospitality management.