Glam, designer hotel on the outskirts of Galway City
It’s a big, loud glassy thing (I’m thinking provincial airport terminal in, say, Florida). Giant, steel lower-case G planted in the fore-court foliage; plus there’s a cascading water-feature. Looks better at night when it’s all lit up with zingy stripes of pink, green and electric blue. Reception is black and glitzy (with tropical fish tank – correction, Connemara seahorse tank).
What’s the story?
Designed by flamboyant milliner (or shall we say, mad hatter) Philip Treacy who hails from this part of the world. The décor is more Lady Gaga than the Duchess of Cambridge (other clients include Grace Jones and Madonna); on the ground floor a runway of pink carpet connects a series of spaces, featuring a vast hall hung with dangling mirror balls, a blue room, cocktail bar and an extravagant colour scheme (deep purple, burnt orange, gold, fuschia, flamingo). The hotel is popular with wedding parties, conferences and groups of high-viz spa ladies drinking Prosecco in the shocking pink lounge.
Galway suburbia. The front rooms have lake views of sorts (the shores of Lough Corrib are a few hundred yards away) but the hotel is sandwiched between four lanes of traffic and a chain-store shopping precinct. Galway is a two-hour drive from Dublin Airport (or one-hour from Shannon).
The pillow test
I like a bit of colour but it was a relief to find the rooms are relatively subdued though everything from door furniture to lamp fittings have a Treacy twist. My room was huge. The bathroom was bigger than most hotel rooms. I’d been upgraded to a junior suite but don’t get too envious: my floor to ceiling picture window took in the Wellpark Retail Centre (Maplins, Petmania, Curry’s PC World etc) – premium rooms are at the front, overlooking Lough Corrib. Still, mine was super comfortable. The bed was gi-normous. There was a sofa. Pillows: excellent.
Must admit I didn’t try Gigi’s restaurant – there are so many great places to eat in Galway (get a taste of the city with a local Food Tour). I was after something more rustic and authentic than Caesar salad, chicken supreme or a 65-quid Chateaubriand though I hear it’s not bad ( AA Rosette). In case you ask, I ate at Kai Restaurant in Galway’s West End, dining on crab with celeriac, monkfish, spinach and rope mussels in a Madras broth and white chocolate Panna Cotta with roasted rhubarb.
The egg test
Average, as is often the case in big, busy hotels. There’s a continental buffet (toast, fruit, granola), plus cooked dishes to order (eggs Benedict, smoked Atlantic salmon, Full Irish, Full Vegan). Extra brownie points for the gluten-free options. €18.50 per person (unless you’re on a B&B deal).
It’s quite a long walk into town (25 minutes, if you’re stepping on it) though there are regular buses (and a bus stop across the road) and if you ask at reception, someone will give you a lift in the hotel’s courtesy car. The Espa spa facility costs €10 a go, even for guests.
The best place to stay in Galway City as long as you don’t mind the walk – and the crazy décor. The high standard of the rooms make it worth the tariff.
The g hotel, Wellpark, Old Dublin Road, Galway City H91 V0HR, Ireland. From £133 a night (room only).