The Meyrick has long had a special place in the hearts of the people of Galway. Known as the Railway Hotel when it opened in 1852, and later as the Great Southern Hotel, this stately showpiece looms large over Eyre Square. In 2006 it was renamed the Hotel Meyrick in order to maintain a link to its historical background, as Eyre Square was once named Meyrick Square. The hotel then underwent a refurbishment programme intended to reinstate the grandeur and elegance of its 19th century heyday, marble flooring, high ceilings, chandeliers and rich fabrics all contribute to re-creating the grandeur of old.
Its continued popularity with visitors comes as no surprise when you consider its advantages. The wide corridors (designed so that fine ladies in hooped dresses could pass without inconvenience ) remain, and are especially impressive in these days of compact modern buildings. Although standard rooms have been treated in a simple modern style, the best have retained period detail and are now offered as superior rooms and junior suites. They are spacious and decorated in keeping with their stature with bathrooms to match, and there are also some opulent ‘level 5’ suites, with access to an executive lounge. The hotel's elegant rooms have free internet, and there is WiFi in public areas. Positioned in the very centre of Galway, it is just a one minute walk from both the train and bus stations. You can enjoy magnificent views of the city from the hotel’s gym, hydrotherapy baths, and outdoor Canadian hot tub. Other leisure facilities include a steam room and monsoon showers. As far as dining is concerned, visitors can enjoy The Parlour at the Meyrick, which retains all of its old world charm and is popular as a meeting place, for coffee, lunch, or an excellent afternoon tea. There is also No 15 On The Square restaurant, located on the lower ground floor and open nightly, offering classic cuisine.
The Gaslight Bar & Brasserie offers the same standard of service with slightly less formality, and is open for lunch and dinner, and also offers cocktails, a wine menu, and an extensive collection of gin. In contrast to the lobby, it is cool and contemporary with gleaming tiles and bare bulbs, while keeping all the grandeur of the period features, lofty ceilings, and elegant windows overlooking Eyre Square. The stylish bar, set in the middle of the room, is stocked with Irish craft beers and ciders, with local hero Galway Hooker on tap. There is a selection of drinks made to order, the short cocktail menu shows innovation, and the wine list is impressive.
Open daily from 10.30am till late, The Gaslight has it all, and is perfect for after work drinks, evening meals, and brunches with friends or colleagues. The Gaslight is bright and fresh, perfect for a lunch time meeting over a sandwich or light bite, but the evening is when the Gaslight Bar really comes into its own and, happily, the menu has recently been given a seasonal shake up.
Panko and sesame crumbed calamari with a pickled Asian salad and a zingy chilli and lime mayo makes for a light and tasty starter. The superfood salad combines roasted butternut squash and kale with quinoa, broccoli, beetroot, and toasted sunflower seeds, all drizzled with a honey and orange dressing. Main courses offer a range of flavours, from baked fillet of Atlantic hake with roasted baby potatoes and Gubeen chorizo to Thai massaman chicken curry. The menu staples of sirloin steak and fish and chips remain on the menu, with the addition of a new vegan option — zucchini fritters, tomato and basil salad, guacamole, and chipotle potato wedges. There is a new Irish beef cheek dish, slowly braised in Guinness, with chive mash or aromatic falafel enlivened with a tangy yogurt and coriander dressing. Everything looks beautiful and delivers on flavour. Starters are all under a tenner, and the mains hover around the mid teens.
As before the change, the staff here know their stuff, they are well-drilled and knowledgeable, the food is flavoursome and nicely presented. If you have room, a small number of well executed desserts are priced at €5.95, very good value for the ever popular baked Alaska and creme Catalan. A chocolate and almond brownie served with soya ice-cream, suitable for vegans, at €7.50 would also make a fine finish to any meal.
The Meyrick may be a classic, but the Gaslight has brought a fresh and vibrant new feel. What has not changed is the warm welcome and the friendly and helpful staff, who make a visit here a real treat. The Meyrick is a piece of Galway history that is busy making itself relevant for today's guests while still keeping its vintage appeal. In Gaslight Bar & Brasserie there is confident, creative, cooking celebrating all the best ingredients on our doorstep.
The Gaslight Bar & Brasserie, Hotel Meyrick, Eyre Square, Galway, phone 091 564041, www.hotelmeyrick.ie