When it comes to choosing a staycation destination on our fine isle, there is one city which consistently lures me cross country, and of which I never seem to tire. Since cherished childhood holidays spent in Salthill, Galway has held a dear place in my heart and I will head west whatever chance I get.
Even when those all too familiar moody grey clouds come sweeping across Galway Bay and the torrents of rainfall roll in, The Galmont feels like an oasis, a bridging gap between the wilds of the Atlantic and the revelry of the city of the tribes.
Formerly the Radisson Blu, the popular hotel has been revamped and reimagined as one of the city’s premier destinations and is inviting the moment you walk in to the high ceilinged and chic lobby to check in.
Modern, airy, and commanding a bay view with four storey high windows, stepping in to The Galmont feels like stepping into a contemporary seafront glasshouse. As tranquil as it is, it is perfectly located to escape the rowdy crowds yet central enough to be within touching distance of mischief – whatever kind of weekend you’re after.
Our fifth floor suite is as beautiful within as the view capturing your attention as soon as you step in the door, with double doors to a wandering balcony calling your name.
More tempting still, a super king size bed is the focal point of this contemporary slate grey and sage walled retreat, the kind that envelopes your whole body and makes getting up in the morning very difficult.
The piece de resistance? A mini vial of This Works Deep Sleep Spray propped atop our pillows, just in case being in the penthouse overlooking the bay didn’t already feel like floating on a cloud.
To continue the feeling of walking on air, a trip downstairs to the Spirit One Spa was a must, so we donned our fluffy robes and slippers and sauntered down in the lifts for facials x2. Hour long treatments saw both of us drift into a cocoon of relaxation, with expert therapists advising us on facials tailored to each of our skin types.
Throw in a dreamy Indian scalp massage to round out my brightening facial and copious amounts of Ronnenfedlt herbal tea panned out in the dimly lit post treatment lounge and the possibility of having any residual stress in your body is obliterated.
As the European Capital of Gastronomy 2018, the tone of the City of the Tribes’ dining scene currently is one of celebration of the raw materials and the tribesmen who craft them. The menu in Marina’s Grill reflects just this, with an ample seafood offering making our location overlooking the bay feel all the more magical.
Unable to resist the allure of the sea, my dining companion opts to kick things off with a King Scallop dish, with three sweet, plump and perfectly seared beauties sitting atop sweetcorn purée and scattered with crisp salty bacon lardons. So often paired with more subtle cauliflower, the sweetness of corn puree made the Kilkee scallops sing. This was a simple, ingredient-driven dish that hit all the right notes and made us sure our decision to go with two seafood mains was justified.
Before me sat Galway Goats Cheese, warmed and oozing with no resemblance to the dry and chalky centres of the rounds so often serves up in venues less concerned with quality local produce. Perched on a buttery crisp filo round topped with the necessary sweetness of red onion marmalade, I could have eaten this starter for dessert too – in a very good way.
A vast selection of mains made choosing just two difficult, but we stuck with our seafarer instincts once again spotting a dedicated Wild Atlantic Way section of the menu which was too tempting to pass up. We were immediately wooed by the Wild Atlantic Way Platter. Yet more of those irresistible scallops mingled with juicy Atlantic crab claws and prawns, all bound in a sea of delicious garlic butter.
Primed for mopping were two freshly baked mini loaves, begging to be dunked in the cider spiked braising liquor in which a hefty pot of mussels were steamed to sweet succulence, alongside a final flourish of Burren Smoked Salmon. Ample as the platter was, I only managed to nab a bite or two and definitely felt pangs of dreaded food envy.
That said, my crisp-skinned pan seared Clare Island Salmon Fillet was beautifully executed with a subtle smoked oyster cream and plenty of samphire, again proving that the delights of the deep are in safe hands at Marina’s.
To end our evening overlooking the sea on a sweet note, a velvety Coffee Creme Brûlée was narrowly outshone by a seductive Hazelnut Chocolate Fondant sitting in a pool of some of the most luscious salted caramel sauce I’ve ever licked off a spoon.
Breakfast in The Galmont is an abundant affair, served in Marina’s again meaning you can take that ultra important first sip of coffee overlooking the sea. Little touches like a build your own Bloody Mary Bar and a continental section with delicacies such as Gubeen Farmhouse Cheese and local smoked mackerel, make the most important meal of the day that bit different to the standard breakfast buffet.
There is also the option to indulge in made to order dishes like waffles and pancakes, and really, who were we to resist, needing a little something to make the imminent checkout and return to reality a little more palatable.
The Galmont offers the best of both worlds – the serenity of Spirit One Spa and the guarantee of a perfect night’s sleep, all the while in an enviable location in touching distance of the night life the city is famed for. I’m not sure what more you could ask for – gather your tribe and head west.
Dine and Stay Packages at The Galmont start from €280 for two people.
Lough Atalia Road
T: +353 91 538 300
REVIEW BY DARINA COFFEY