When you want to go to a city, you really want to go into the city, to go to the heart of it, to feel its beat, its laconic mornings where you can watch it come to light; its heartbeat quickening as its workers go to work, so that you can feel you’re more on holiday by virtue of the fact that others are not. To truly appreciate a city, it is welcome to find a hotel that brings you right into the centre, where for the duration of your stay, you are truly part of the place.
Where just one step outside the door gives you a sense of it, where a look out through the windows of your room show you a vista of the place that you have come to visit.
That is so true about the Hotel Meyrick in Eyre Square in Galway. For more than a century and a half, this building has been the mainstay in the centre of the city. Its historic bold frontage sitting monarch of all it surveys at the heart of Ireland’s fun city. And now at this time of the year, with the autumnal glow off the trees in the square making way for the festive lights twinkling on the horizon, there is simply no better time to sample this great hotel.
It is as if Christmas cards were designed from it, and it opens out on to a welcoming plaza where from next month, the annual Christmas market will have you thinking you are in Bruges or Prague or Munich.
My guests and I stayed over at the Meyrick and were wowed by its sheer ambience. Some of you will know that it was once the Great Southern Hotel and the staff and services associated with that great chain are the people of legend. To protect this heritage, the Meyrick demands the same standards of its modern staff and it is a standard that is met with every order, with every exchange with guests. Staff are knowledgable, friendly, helpful, and are willing to engage to make sure your stay is a pleasant one.
Hotel Meyrick is iconic in Galway — from my room, I look out and see a sweep of the city, overlooking Kennedy Park where 100 days before his death, JFK spoke about how on a clear day you can see Boston; across to the right are the steeples and towers of St Nicholas Cathedral and the iconic Galway Cathedral, built mid architectural controversy in the mid 1960s.
And throughout all that time, the Meyrick has been here. Offering a range of classic rooms and suites that guarantee you a sense of the history of the building and the contemporary nature of its offering.
On our first night, dinner is served in No 15 on the Square. Based in the lower floor of the hotel, the menu at No 15 on the Square is bursting with flavour and seasonality. I cannot wait to go back to it. It is such a comfortable space with little alcoves available for discreet dining, and plenty of big spaces for that good hearty family get together. On the night we dined, there were families of all shapes and sizes and all were accommodated in comfort in a space that has a wonderful warm assuring ambience.
My dining partner had the rosemary and balsamic braised shoulder of lamb, served with lamb croquettes and some wilted spinach in lamb jus. It was divine. I committed the sin of envy that I had not ordered it, but used my own selfishness to boast about the quinoa potato cake served in a chickpea curry that I had ordered.
The lamb was tender and mouthwatering. Almost pulled in its texture; my vegetarian meal was equally scrumptous, with forkfuls going back and forth across the table, we could not resist tasting each other’s dishes.
For dessert, she had a fruit salad, and I opted for the Classic San Honore. This seminal French dessert is a circle of puff pastry at its base with a ring of pâté a choux piped on the outer edge. After the base, baked small cream puffs are dipped in caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top of the circle of the pâté. It was light and enchanting and is not an easy dessert to achieve, so well done to the genies in the kitchen.
Our daughter had a delicious pasta from the children’s menu, and rounded it off with a classic brownie.
The menu was quite extensive and among the options included the slow cooked feather blade of beef which dining partners at a neighbouring table had; turnedo of Irish Hereford sirloin; and oven-baked hake or salmon.
This was my first time dining at No 15... I love the Gaslight Brasserie on the ground floor, and am wowed by the fact that the hotel now has several beautiful dining spaces catering for a wide variety of tastes.
The next day, we enjoyed some time in the Spa —The view from the Meyrick Spa is also breathtaking. The vista takes in vast swathes of the seaward side of the hotel, allowing users to relax with a view of the Clare Hills sitting in the bubbling waters as you soak your worries away. Here you can relax and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit in the outdoor Canadian hot tub, Jacuzzi, steam room, monsoon shower, relaxation room, and gym.
For those of that inclination, the gym at Hotel Meyrick features cardio fitness equipment in a contemporary area surrounded by large glass windows. The workout area is airy and energising with everything you require to meet your fitness goals.
The rooms at the Meyrick ooze class and sophistication. No generic hotel rooms here, each one is furnished with an elegance that has been the hallmark of this building for more than a decade and a half, each floor an oasis of calm.
Breakfast is also served in No 15 on the Square and it offers a good range of hot and cold meals. We opted for poached eggs and tomatoes, washed down with a pot of hot coffee and the most wonderful brown bread. Just as it was at dinnertime, No 15 is a calm location offering none of the harshness of early morning light, allowing diners to ease into the day.
On my way to breakfast, I read that Alcock and Brown had breakfasted here after their historic flight from Newfoundland to Clifden in 1919; showing the history of the establishment and the decades of distinction that allow it to maintain those high standards today. Dining where Alcock and Brown did, certainly dining in the footprints of heroes.
And you get the sense of why such a building and business has stood the test of time. If you set and excel high standards, then people will come and stay. One hundred and fifty two years on, that is what is happening at The Meyrick.
For details on how to book your break at the Hotel Meyrick see www.hotelmeyrick.ie