Galway, a bohemian, artsy and cosmopolitan city is a must visit on any trip to Ireland. Situated in the mouth of Galway Bay in the West of Ireland, it is the perfect base to explore the magnificent Connemara area. The city although rooted in history and tradition, is nonetheless a modern 21st century city, with a very young vibe.
The streets are lined with brightly painted shops, pubs, and restaurants. Color is a big thing in Galway city. Perhaps the locals paint their premises brightly as a sort of counter attack on the rain that falls frequently and heavily in this part of the world! So long as you are prepared for all kinds of weather, Galway will not disappoint. On a rainy day, you can sit in one of the many pubs by a big log fire and listen to traditional Irish musicians. Music is a big part of life in Galway, be it buskers on the streets, or musicians in the cozy pubs, you will hear it everywhere you go.
Eyre Square is at the center of the city, and surrounded by modern shops and department stores — but what makes Galaway so popular are the Medieval lane-ways running through the city, which have become known as The Latin Quarter. One of the most popular lanes, and the one with the finest architecture dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, is Kirwin’s Lane. It is now home to craft shops, bohemian shops, little cafes, bars and restaurants. The city is foodie’s paradise, with award winning restaurants, pubs and food markets. The world renowned Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival is held in the last week of September every year. Galway is also synonymous with he internationally known Claddagh ring, and the much loved Aran sweaters.
A vacation in Galway usually incorporates a visit to Connemara, so choosing a hotel in the right location is important. The Ardilaun, a four star hotel, situated on Taylor’s Hill (1km from the city center, Salthill and Galway bay) is ideal.
The hotel offers luxury accommodation, comprising single, twin, double and family rooms. During my stay, I had a family room (one double bed, and two single beds). The room was well furnished, with ample cupboard space, good lighting, plenty of power outlets, very comfortable beds, and an en-suite with excellent shower, soft towels, plus all the little extras found in good hotel bathrooms. The room was perfectly comfortable pleasant and big enough for the three people in our party.
One thing I love about the hotel is that it is a dog friendly hotel. If you choose to bring your pet with you, you will be offered one of the rooms beside the gardens for easy access when needed. You will also receive the Ardilaun Doggy Pack when you arrive!
Dining at the Ardilaun is a pleasure, with a choice of fine dining in the Camilaun Restaurant, or for a more relaxed traditional setting try Blazers Bar and Bistro. During our stay, we sampled both restaurants, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner in the Camilaun was excellent; sirloin steaks with all the trimmings, seared Atlantic hake, all washed down with a couple of fine bottles of excellent wine.
Lunch in Blazers Bar and Bistro was equally appetizing; steak sandwiches, potted crab, and the Ardilaun beef burger, which we still managed to eat despite the hearty hotel breakfast. We were all very satisfied with our choices — but that shouldn’t stop you from indulging in some sweet treats in the afternoon. The sticky toffee Pudding and Ardilaun apple tart are particularly delicious. Drinks at the bar in the evening, or sitting around the big open fires in the lobby were a real pleasure after a day driving around Connemara. The decor in the common areas is a little dated but nonetheless very inviting.
No stay in a hotel is complete without indulging in some spa treatments, or taking a swim. At the Ardilaun, you are spoiled for choice. There is an 18 meter swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and steam room to relax in, or perhaps if it’s a real workout you’re looking for, then you can avail of the classes in the Fitness Studio, the Spin Studio, or the Aerobics Studio.
After all of that you can take yourself along to the Avalon Beauty Salon to take advantage of the many treatments and pamper packages on offer. Be sure to book in advance, because it is always busy, and you don’t want to be disappointed.
For me the most important things about a hotel are the simplest; a good nights sleep in a very comfortable bed, good food, helpful and friendly staff, and a location that fits in with what I want to do and where I want to go. At the Ardilaun you are perfectly placed to explore the city of Galway, and also to explore the beauty and diversity of the magnificent Connemara. The Ardilaun Hotel offers all of the above and more, at very competitive prices in a lovely location.
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