I was lucky enough recently to be invited to spend a night at The g Hotel in Galway.
Needless to say I was delighted to take on the assignment. It is not exactly a chore to go on an unexpected mini-break away to a five-star hotel in the culturally vibrant City of Tribes.
I had stayed at the The g once before, when it first opened in 2006, and I was curious to see if the bold, avant-garde, decor that had so impressed me last time around had dated a bit, or, had it managed to stay stylishly unique, relevant, and current.
The short answer is...it still works.
The daring design choices (influenced by celebrated milliner Philip Treacy ) still bring you on a wonderful Alice in Wonderland style journey through a mish-mash of pop, glamour, artsy plush and cool.
From the dark, black, marble reception area to the raspberry pink carpet which guides you towards three individually themed lounges, each one as different as the next, there is bundles of stuff to oohh and awww about.
Throughout each lounge, and in the restaurant as well, there are pieces of art with portraits of supermodels and movie stars, a nod to Andy Warhol, and a kitsch Child of Prague.
Interspersed with these, there are some really stand-out items, like a BMW bonnet sporting Marilyn Monroe's face, an absolutely enormous (like really big ) display of silver globes dangling from a high, high, ceiling and screamingly loud monochrome swirl carpet that would be worthy of an appearance in the Clockword Orange.
The lounges and decor in the public areas alone are worth a visit to the hotel, where you can choose to sip your cocktails, coffee, or lunch in the pinker than pink, vampish, and aptly named Pink Salon, the glamorous, silvery beige Grand Salon or the opulent, more understated, Blue Salon.
The rooms are just what you would expect in a top hotel. Comfortable, calm, and relaxing with all needs catered to including cute customised icing topped muffins (in case you are a bit peckish on arrival ), a mini-bar, robes and slippers, huge beds, piles of pillows to sink into, and bespoke design items, with plenty of reference to Treacy's influence in the form of hat shaped lamps and wall art.
After doing the obligatory rummage around the room and three hops on the edge of the bed to make sure it was springy enough (does everyone do this immediately after entering a hotel room, or is it just me? ), it was time for dinner in Gigi's Restaurant.
The lighting was dim and the atmosphere was humming when I, and the lucky person I brought along on this fact-finding missing, arrived.
The restaurant gives you the impression that you have stumbled into a doll's house for grown-ups. Long, lush, swathes of purple drop in sections from the window lined wall on one side and matching seashell shaped, soft booths are dotted here and there, breaking up the space and creating nice nooks and corners.
The upholstered chairs throughout create brightly coloured splashes of red, green, yellow, and blue, with ornate mirrors decorating the walls in places and beautifully laid out tables with white linen. It is a million miles away from the grey, dull, day we left outside only a few hours earlier.
We opted for the Sharing Menu (three courses for €99 per couple ), which consists of platters, or boards, for two to share.
Our starter, the Butcher's Board was a pretty sizeable spread of cold meats, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, breads, and dips. Delicious and an ideal appetizer to share - plenty to pick and choose from, with every last morsel, down to the almond stuffed olives, combining to deliver a flavour packed punch.
For the main, we plumped for the chateaubriand of beef (thick cut fillet steak, sliced finely and cooked to your liking ).
It arrived with green beans, caesar salad, sauteed potatoes, and onion rings.
On the face of it, it was a simple, no fuss dish. But I really cannot rave enough about it (which I did, for about a week, until friends and family finally snapped, 'all right, enough about the beef' ).
The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender, the beans were crispy, and the onion rings were tangy. Top it off with a jug of peppercorn sauce that was pure creamy, buttery, luxury, and for me, it was the perfect meal.
All accompanied by wine, an extensive menu, where there is some quite good value to be had as well as the more extravagant offerings.
I am not really a dessert person – so I drank the jug of sauce instead.
But seriously, even the dessert was faultless. A sharing selection of sorbets, crème brulees, ice-creams, fondants and fruit - it had something for everyone whether you were a chocolate lover or prefer sharp, tongue tanging citrus flavours instead.
Overall, a top dining experience and highly recommended, even if you are staying in the hotel and want a nice evening out in a relaxing atmosphere with impeccable service the whole way along.
When in The g, cocktails (ranging from €9 to €12.50 with special offers also ) are a must and there are three salons in which to kick back and enjoy them. Even if you do not drink alcohol, there is a great 'virgin' selection too.
There are all the classic (Manhattans, Blood Marys, Mojitos and Bellinis ) and some signature g creations.
All ambitions to hit the tiles in Galway slowly evaporated as we got settled and decided instead to enjoy the evening there, hopping between lounges and trying a few different offerings from cocktail menu.
All in all, a perfect evening.
The g Hotel certainly lives up to the reputation it has gained over the years as a luxurious get-away destination. There is so much to admire about this place from the interesting and hip décor to the fine food and drinks, comfortable rooms, top service, and general contemporary, chic feeling to the entire hotel.
Five stars for this five-star experience.
Contact The g Hotel, Wellpark, Galway, on (091 ) 865200 or visit www.ghotel.ie to find out more.