Nox is tucked away in the Liosban Industrial Estate just off the Headford Road roundabout. This relatively new hotel is a surprising oasis for visitors coming to Galway and locals alike. Set back from the busy road that encircles the city, it also has the advantage of being just minutes from the centre of town.
The property has a interesting history, it first opened as a Holiday Inn Express in 1996 and rebranded as an Ibis Hotel two years later. In 2008 it became Lisbrook House, a direct provision asylum seeker hostel, before closing its doors in 2012. You would never guess at its checkered past on entering it today. After significant investment into the building, it has been transformed into a sleek and contemporary hotel.
Nox is derived from Latin, meaning Night, and the Roman goddess of the night who is associated with sleep and dreams — hence the superior beds and cosy duvets, comfortable rooms that are perfect for a restful night’s sleep. The blurb tells us that “each room has a flat-screen TV and temperature control via a thermostat”. Nice. With the added bonus of free WiFi, free parking (loads of it ), and super connectivity, Nox Hotel is not just for the modern traveller, its a perfect dining pitstop for those in the know. A buffet breakfast is available, along with lunch and dinner menus, plus snacks on offer throughout the day.
This is no typical hotel carvery however. Instead, expect full, fast, friendly, table service and good value which has already made it a popular choice with the local workers. The lunch menu is served daily in the open-plan bar with a full bar menu and hot beverage options including some interesting teas. Pomegranate white tea, anyone? The space is restful with modern furnishings, navy ceilings with accents of warm mustard. They have a simple philosophy towards dining at Nox, they aim to serve contemporary food in trendy surroundings and in this they have succeeded.
I brought my most stylish friend and fellow columnist for lunch this week as I wanted to blend in. Perusing the menu, the specials offer a choice of power salad or a hot dish that come in at under 500 calories for those watching their figure. There is also a sandwich special served with salad and chips with a price tag of €6.95 for those watching their wallets. That’s some serious lunchtime value.
The menu lists some old favourites like Caesar salad with croutons and creamy dressing, or a slow cooked pulled pork bap. They do a particularly good steak sandwich, a perfectly cooked 6oz chargrilled minute steak served on toasted ciabatta and topped with sauté peppers, mushrooms, and onions and served with hand cut steak fries that I remember fondly from my last visit. On this occasion we ordered the soup of the day, broccoli and potato. You can tell a lot about a kitchen if they can turn out a decent bowl of soup, and Nox can. A comforting bowl of brassica was duly delivered.
We also sampled one of the salads, goat’s cheese and beetroot, some nutty toasted walnuts with beautifully dressed mixed leaves. With the addition of chicken it was priced at €8.95 and the star of the show. Equal care was shown by the kitchen to a southern fried chicken burger with the ubiquitous avocado and rather addictive sweet potato fries. This was a rugby player sized portion for €11.50. All presented by a competent and efficient staff, we were never bereft of attention.
While there was no shortage of desserts to finish, Mississippi mud pie, dark chocolate cake, or banoffi to name just a few, changes are afoot at Nox. The desserts this week, while very nice, are bought in but that is about to change with the addition of an Italian pastry chef. A new head chef with an impressive pedigree has also been appointed so things are about to get even more interesting.
Nox’s chilled out and stylish bar is the perfect setting for a craft beer or a cocktail. The outside seating area is perfect for summer launches and parties. The hotel’s jewel in the crown is most definitely the helpful and efficient staff, some of the nicest I have met. Nox may be a hotel that offers exceptionally good value, but it’s got a luxury hotel attitude. This is one to keep an eye on.
Nox Hotel, Liosban Road, off Headford Road, Galway. Tel: 091 735555. Email: [email protected].