Staycation: Here's the hidden gem that makes Galway the perfect getaway
I travelled back in time on the Orient express.
I'm sure a lot of you will agree that the weekends are getting slightly monotonous. With non-essential travel still being advised (despite the somewhat confusing publication of the green list) it's staycations for the foreseeable for many people across the country. With this in mind, when I was offered the opportunity to head to Galway for a press trip and check out what my (second) favourite city had to offer, I jumped at the chance.
The plan for the weekend sounded exquisite... first stop head for Glenlo Abbey on Friday evening to sample the food at the Pullman restaurant before heading to the city on Saturday afternoon for a different experience at the Harbour Hotel.
On arrival at Glenlo, it must be said, the first word that popped into my head was swanky! With five stars and grounds for days, we quickly forgot about the absolute shite weather we experienced on the drive from Dublin, popped the glad rags on, and prepared for our 9pm dinner at the Pullman restaurant.
Let me tell you about this restaurant.
Located on the grounds of the hotel, the Pullman restaurant offers one of Galway's most unique dining experiences. The restaurant itself comprises of two original carriages from the Orient Express (WTF!) the carriages have been beautifully restored and you instantly feel like you've stepped back in time.
In terms of the actual history of the carriages, the train used to transport the the rich and famous all across Europe in the 20th century. In 1974, the Pullman played a starring role in the blockbuster hit 'Murder on the Orient Express', there's no doubt you can feel the history emulating from the carriages as you walk through them so, you can understand why we felt quite fancy.
We were treated to five courses of stunningly prepared food. The staff were a pleasure to behold, attentive and gracious when being asked to take the twenty-seven pictures we deemed appropriate for such a feast. Before I move on and stop talking about the Pullman, can we take a moment for the steak below... locally sourced, smoky and cooked to absolute perfection. This is the type of steak you miss, I still think about it.
The next morning we had just enough time to practise our swings at the driving range located on the grounds and before departing we nabbed a quick look around the private cinema room. The cinema is a recent addition to Glenlo, it's free to use for guests of the hotel and with its dark mahogany panelling and soft lighting it truly is luxury at its best.
We headed to the Harbour hotel on Saturday afternoon and headed straight out (with our masks on) to see what post-lockdown Galway had to offer. After a tip from a local staffer at the hotel, we ambled around the harbour to the famous blue house which can be seen in (you guessed it) Ed Sheeran's 'Galway Gir'l video. I regret nothing.
For lunch ,we popped in to the Kings Head, a favourite spot of mine in Galway located in the heart of the Latin Quarter. There was massive attention to detail when it came to cleanliness and social distancing in the restaurant/pub; there were foot pedals on the doors of the bathrooms and hand sanitiser as far as the eye can see. It's definitely a different experience to see all of these measures in action while you're technically on 'holiday' but comforting to know that the pubs and hotels are adapting and that the tourism trade in Ireland will continue as long as locals continue to support it.
We finished up our stay in Galway with a stunning brunch (see below ALL THE PANCAKES) at the Harbour hotel on Sunday morning before heading back to Dublin.
I'm such a massive fan of Galway and being completely honest I didn't know what a hotel weekend away would actually provide in terms of a relaxing holiday... turns out, it provides a lot!
We experienced luxury, insane food, history, culture, Guinness and clean remote controls.
What more could you ask for?