I’m very lucky that I have had the pleasure of staying in lovely hotels over the years (and some not so lovely), but I have never stayed somewhere quite like Galgorm. Driving up to the hotel is impressive alone, its old features blend perfectly with the modern additions of the hotel. You can have your car valeted or park in the carpark yourself, it’s just s few seconds stroll from the entrance. After we were welcomed into the lobby the concierge was over in a flash to help us check in. As we were staying in a deluxe room we had our own check-in area, just a little down the hallway. We strolled on down to our check-in area, and made use of the refreshments on offer as we waited to check in; fresh lemonade and mini cones filled with lemon curd – what a welcome!
If you happen to be early for check in, the staff are more than happy to take your luggage while you nip down to the thermal suite and spa while you wait for your room (more on the amazing thermal suite later!). Our room was incredibly spacious, with a seating area perfect to watch television or read the magazines that have been left for guests to peruse. The bathroom is stunning, with a large shower that will make you want to start singing your favourite hits. Fluffy bathrobes and slippers are in the wardrobe, and top quality toiletries are waiting for you.
Top tip: you can wear the robe in your room down to the spa, but they have their very own robes available and they are extra fluffy and ideal to lounge around in. A complimentary minibar awaits you in your deluxe room, ideal to enjoy a glass of vino before you head off for dinner.
Guests to Galgorm have a variety of dining options to choose from. For a laid back Italian meal, you can try Fratelli Ristorante; enjoy fresh local produce in Bar + Grill at Gillies or try the newly opened Castle Kitchen + Bar for authentic BBQ. Tonight, however, we were dining in The River Room.
This 3 AA Rosette awarded restaurant is lead by head chef Chris Rees and showcases the best local seasonal produce, along with ingredients from Galgorm’s kitchen garden. Guests can choose from an a la carte or tasting menu, and while I was so tempted to try the tasting menu there were certain dishes on the a la carte that I just had to have!
To start we choose the Onion Tart and the Rabbit and Ham Ballotine. The tart was made with Irish cheese, butternut squash and Perigord Truffle. A delicate pastry tart encased some of my favourite ingredients cheese and truffle. Garnished with onion, and truffle shavings the tart looked sinfully inviting and I barely managed to snap a picture before it was devoured.
The ballotine was perfectly prepared, the skill of the chef clearly showing as the ballotine so tightly formed. Served with a beautifully clear consommé with green herb oil prettily dotted throughout, spring vegetables and tarragon. It was the perfect spring dish.
Meat was on the agenda for the evening and our mains of Dry Aged Beef Fillet and Irish Lamb were ideal. Our beef was served with lardo, cauliflower, earthy girolles and garnished with parsley. An elegant dish that gave both style and substance. To be honest, I wanted every main course on the menu. The halibut with cured egg sounded interesting and the cannelloni of mushroom was right up my street.
However, it was the Irish Lamb that caught my eye. Served with turnip, fried wild garlic and chicory each bite was a delight to eat. Both the beef and the lamb were perfectly cooked, shining pink and seasoned just the right amount.
Desserts of the evening were Chocolate & Coconut Parfait, white chocolate and malt and an indulgent Caramel Tart. The coconut parfait was an instant hit with my dinner date, who is a massive fan of the tropical fruit. Sitting on a bed of malt flakes that were insanely addictive I found my spoon returning to the plate for another bite.
My caramel tart was gorgeous and full of my favourite flavours; toffee and fudge with a smooth texture. Served with walnut, quince and buttermilk ice cream. The buttermilk ice cream was divine and has left me craving it ever since my visit.
I spied the cheese trolly wheeling by and wished I wasn’t so full. It was filled with wonderful looking cheese that was crying out to be eaten. Unfortunately, I had reached my limit and my waistline was saying no more!
We finished our meal with coffee and petits fours. I (happily) forced myself to eat a little more when I saw the beautiful sweet treats that accompanied our coffee. Dining in a AA Rosette restaurant you expect the food to be good, but at The River Room the food is superb and can stand up to any Michelin star restaurant in Ireland.
Galgorm is a hotel you should most certainly stay in. In fact, don’t think of it as a hotel, think of it as an experience. The hotel oozes luxury without pretence; the staff are so genuine and friendly, giving guests a taste of that famous Irish hospitality. From the moment we checked in we were treated exceptionally well, and by the smiles on my fellow guests, they were given the same top class service as us. We only stayed one night in Galgorm and on my next visit (which I am 100% booking) I’m staying longer. There is so much to do here one night is simply not enough. My only complaint? I wish I didn’t have to leave!
T: +44 (0)28 2588 1001
REVIEW BY SINÉAD SMYTH