The Willow Tea Rooms are at 217 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. It was designed by internationally renowned architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. and opened for business in October 1903. They quickly gained enormous popularity, and are the most famous of the many Glasgow tea rooms that opened in the late 19th and early 20th century.Early in his career, in 1896, Mackintosh met Catherine Cranston (widely known as Kate Cranston or simply Miss Cranston), an entrepreneurial local business woman who was the daughter of a Glasgow tea merchant and a strong believer in temperance.
The temperance movement was becoming increasingly popular in Glasgow at the turn of the century and Miss Cranston had conceived the idea of a series of “art tea rooms”, venues where people could meet to relax and enjoy non-alcoholic refreshments in a variety of different “rooms” within the same building. This proved to be the start of a long working relationship between Miss Cranston and Mackintosh. Between 1896 and 1917 he designed and re-styled interiors in all four of her Glasgow tea rooms, often in collaboration with his wife Margaret McDonald.