Old-world charms in the city of the Tribes

by Gazette Reporter
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Hotel Meyrick

But, when it comes to the other boxes – four-star accommodation full of old-fashioned Irish charm, a city full of culture on the doorstep, being just minutes away from beaches, shops and lively bars, and facing just a short drive to some of the scenery this country is most famously praised for, it seems that Galway City exceeds expectations.

Having only had the pleasure of being to Galway City once before – on an occasion not done in too much style – it came as no surprise that, when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to stay at the renowned Hotel Meyrick.

The oldest hotel in Galway city, it lived up the expectation I had set for its combination of old-world glamour, sophistication and contemporary style.

Once known as “the Railway Hotel”, the Hotel Meyrick is one hotel that has its history intertwined with that of the city it resides in.

Located quite literally in the very heart of Galway City, the hotel stands elegantly overlooking Eyre Square, just a stone’s throw away from the city’s highlights and public transport systems – Galway Railway Station is located right on Eyre Square.

First opened in 1852, the Hotel Meyrick earned its current name only a few years ago, when it was named after Eyre Square’s former title, Meyrick Place.

Arriving by car at Hotel Meyrick, its central location makes it a busy destination, traffic-wise but, if you’re lucky enough to find a spot to pull in first time round, the hotel’s friendly valets quickly take it off your hands.

The hotel’s exterior is impressive in itself, the five-floored building taking precedence on its corner of Eyre Square but, if that doesn’t take you aback, the Meyrick’s impressive lobby will. Grand, spacious and inviting, the lobby boasts high ceilings, a number of old fashioned couches and warm lighting to set the scene.

We checked into a junior suite; a fifth-floor room overlooking the 400-year-old square, its windows offering possibly the best view of Galway city. The king-size bed, spacious bathroom and modern flatscreen TV take nothing away from the old-world charm of the luxurious suite.

In the warmer months, you might miss the full blast of air-conditioning (the fact that the building is listed means there are restrictions – an element that is intriguing in itself) but, even after throwing the wide windows open to let fresh air through, the sounds of the Galway streets remind you of the bustling liveliness of a modern city that rarely sleeps.

The menus at the Oyster Grill Restaurant reflect its fortunate proximity to the west coast, the variety complemented by Beara Island mussels, Atlantic crab claws and seasonal oysters.

The popular restaurant offers an a-la-carte option, a table d’hote menu, as well as Sunday lunch, with its doors open to both guests and locals seven days a week.

After choosing the chicken liver and herb pate, followed by a sirloin steak with Guinness and mushroom jus – which comes highly recommended – we chose to finish our evening with a nightcap at the laidback Oyster Bar. Breakfast is served in the same restaurant and is a generous spread of fresh fruit, cereals and mini-pastries, as well as a buffet-style option for a full Irish breakfast.

Following breakfast, I couldn’t help but be tempted by the rumours I heard about the Square Spa and Health Club, located on the fifth floor of the Meyrick.

Good rumours, of course, that encouraged me to bypass the state-of-the-art gym and indulge instead in a morning of relaxation. What the spa lacks in size, it makes up for in privacy and quality.

The spa overlooks the cityscape of Galway and, while I had to avoid climbing into the romantic Canadian hot tub overlooking the city (which was already occupied by two people enjoying a glass of bubbly), I opted instead for a signature Dermalogica facial.

Outside the little world created by the Meyrick lies cobbled streets, colourful shops and a busy café bar culture spreading right across the city.

Already located at the heart of where it all happens, why not take a stroll on the beach at Salthill, stop off for a well-earned pint of Guinness at one of the city’s many old Irish pubs, or take a drive to see the unspoilt beauty of the famous Connemara coast?

The Relax & Unwind package offers two nights’ bed and full Irish breakfast, with one evening dinner at the Oyster Grill Restaurant, and a choice of a relaxing Indian Head Massage or a Mini Facial from €184 per room.

For further packages and information, see www.hotelmeyrick.ie.

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