The Bridge House links body and soul superbly

by Gazette Reporter
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UNTIL recently, travelling to the midlands was something I had a tendency to overlook when it came to arranging a weekend away.

Such drives featured a host of quaint drive-through towns where I occasionally stopped, but hadn’t really considered as making my final destination.

In fact, one of the only times I had travelled to Tullamore, Co Offaly, was to do my driving test, yonks ago; I think the waiting list in Dublin was extremely long, so I thought a country town was my best bet.

It turns out I was wrong, but I passed second time round anyway. But who would have thought that the town is fast emerging as the ideal destination for a much needed break away?

A recent invitation found me driving down the N4 from Dublin once again – with a full licence this time – and heading directly for The Bridge House Hotel and Spa.

Just a hop, skip and an hour from Dublin’s fair city, Tullamore is perhaps best known for its famous export, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, and hosts a heritage centre in its honour.

But the town also has much more to offer: local heritage trips, shopping and dining, and a range of outdoor activities, with one of its biggest draws being, perhaps, its most popular hotel.

The welcome at The Bridge House Hotel was a warm one, which was a thankful break from the winter weather outside. The lobby greets its guests with a sweeping staircase and a cosy blend of dark woods, and the hotel’s interior is subtle and luxurious.

We were lucky enough to stay in a suite, which had its own private balcony to admire the local view.

We arrived just in time to take some time out in the Sanctuary Spa and my masseuse managed to massage away a stressful week with a full body massage.

An hour-long treatment, it was complete with warm towels and soothing music and, thanks to the spa’s late opening hours, we still managed to fit in some time to relax in the outdoor hydrotherapy pool afterwards.

Post-spa, it was time for dinner at Balcone Italiano, the in-house Italian restaurant. Located on the top floor of the hotel, the restaurant overlooks the main lobby.

Vintage

Designed in true vintage Italian kitchen style, the furniture and decor is reminiscent of a real Italian country home – or, at least, what I imagine one to be – and the menu really has something for everyone.

Our table enjoyed a charcuterie board to start, with a selection of Italian cheeses, salami and parma ham, which was followed by golden-fried button mushrooms with garlic and chive mayonnaise.

For our main course, we enjoyed a tender filet of steak, which – after seeing the size of my fellow guest’s T-bone steak – was too good to suffer any food envy.

The restaurant was buzzing with a mixture of guests and locals and the good food, wine and company was certainly one that will be tough to top.

The restaurant even played host to Rosanna Davison on the night, with whispers that she was making her own pizza in the kitchen. It’s clearly a popular place.

Indulging in one last dry-January sin, we enjoyed an apres-dinner drink in The Palace nightclub, which adjoins the hotel at a nice and soundless distance, before calling it a night.

I’m a huge fan of breakfast, but particularly when it’s brought to the table – a rare treat. Following some pick-me-up coffee and, of course, a full Irish, we reluctantly checked out of the hotel to begin the short journey home.

The second-night stay will have to wait until next time!

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