A former inhabitant of the City of Tribes and lover of the rugged West, Anne Whelton spends the night in the stylish surroundings of the g Hotel, and finds substance in abundance.
Coco Chanel once wrote: ‘In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.’ Upon entering the foyer of one of Ireland’s most iconic hotels, I understand where the undisputed queen of chic was coming from.
Nestled on the edge of Galway city and overlooking Lough Atalia – which flows into Galway Bay – the five star g Hotel is anything but ordinary.
Designed by milliner Philip Treacy and opened in 2005, the unique style of the g is hard to pin down. From the eclectic mix of décor – the dark and moody lobby makes way for an elegant reception area illuminated by hundreds of large silver orbs hanging from the room’s double-height ceiling, which in turn makes way for a flamboyant pink salon where guests can enjoy elaborate cocktails of all shapes and sizes– to simple touches; like door handles and lampshades, all bespoke to the g and all quintessential Treacy creations.
Still, if Philip Treacy’s designs are good enough for Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga and Princess Beatrice, they’re good enough for me, and it’s this insight that leads me to recall the second Chanel quote of my visit: ‘Fashion changes – style remains’. Once again, it seems Ms Chanel was on the money. As I glance around the g’s cocktail bar on a cold Friday night in November to see several groups of guests and patrons sipping on signature cocktails and enjoying the ambiance, it becomes clear that while people initially came for the ‘fashion’, they have stayed for the style, an adage which has stood to the g during the tough times and led to it’s survival, where unfortunately many others have faltered and failed.
Eat, drink and be merry
After some well needed respite in one of the hotel’s 101 tastefully decorated guestrooms, my companion and I decided it was time to sample all that the g Hotel has to offer in culinary delights. Luckily, the à la carte menu at Restaurant gigi’s – which in 2012 was awarded two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence – did not disappoint. Head chef Pauline Reilly and her culinary team serve up a feast for the senses, showcasing all that the West of Ireland has to offer in seafood and local produce, while also appealing to the more adventurous diners with dishes such as ‘A Study of Pork’ – a wonderfully presented collection of pork fillet, pork belly and black pudding croquette. All breads and baked goods are all made in-house at the g and an emphasis on fresh seasonal ingredients is evident throughout chef Kelly’s impressive menu.
To start, I ordered the Pan Roasted Kilmore Quay King Scallops while my companion went for the Pink Breast and Confit Leg of Quail, both of which were perfection, in presentation and taste. For our main course we ordered the Butter Basted Fillet of Monkfish and A Study of Pork, again both of which surpassed expectation.
After our desert of Raspberry Baked Alaska and Vanilla Panna Cotta, we decided to retire to one of the g’s signature lounges to enjoy an after dinner cocktail. Staying with what – at that point – seemed to have become the theme of our stay at the g, I order the Coco Chanel inspired Coco gl’amour, one of the hotel’s signature concoctions of fruit and alcohol, while my friend went for a Spicy Fifty, which according to ‘legend’ is served in just two places in the world, one of which is, of course, the g Hotel.
Attention to detail
While our nighttime tipple certainly proved the g had style, it was the substance I was after – and which I found in the exceptional service we received during our stay at the hotel. From the courteous reception staff and attentiveness of our waiter in gigi’s to the turn down service and attention to detail in the form of ‘g’ cupcakes in every guestroom, the service at the g is certainly of five star quality.
It’s no surprise then that the g Hotel has garnered substantial international attention and accolades in the form of a Conde Naste Award in 2009 and 2011, the AA Five Star Award, two AA Rosettes and a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award 2013 for ‘Best Luxury Hotel in Galway’. TripAdvisor judges and users described the g as ‘a luxurious escape for both the leisure and business traveller that combines comfort and lavishness in a totally original fashion’.
This luxurious quality is no more apparent than in ESPA, the g’s award-winning spa. Comprising of eight treatment rooms, four beauty suites, a vitality pool, crystal steam room, rain shower, rock sauna, ice fountain, heated loungers, a fitness studio and a relaxation room overlooking the rooftop Zen garden, it doesn’t get more indulgent than this.
Coupled with an extensive menu of ESPA treatments that includes signature facials and a number of day spa options, the ESPA is the perfect retreat after a long day of exploring all that Galway city has to offer.
Upon checkout the next morning, after enjoying a feast of pancakes and freshly brewed coffee for breakfast, as I once again glanced around the hotel’s impressive anteroom, I thought to myself, ‘Coco would have liked this place’.
Check into the g in 2014
The g Hotel offers a number of packages throughout the year, ranging from romantic St Valentine’s getaways to pre-Christmas indulgent weekends. Here are two of our favourites for 2014.
G – The Way I Like it
Enjoy overnight accommodation with full Irish breakfast and a three-course early dinner selecting from Restaurant GiGi’s Seasonal Menu (either Dining at Dusk or Summer Breeze) with tea or coffee. Package starts at €101 per person.
Pamper Perfection for Two
Discover ESPA at the g and combine your spa journey, which includes a full body massage or intensive facial, with luxurious overnight accommodation and full Irish breakfast. Package starts at €150 per person.
More information on these, and a range of other packages for 2014, are available on the g’s website.