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Travel review: Lose your heart to Galway

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The Galmont Hotel

The Galmont Hotel

the Wine cellar in the restaurant

the Wine cellar in the restaurant

The Galmont Hotel

I lost my heart to a Galway girl once. I still remember it well after all these years.

Niamh was a tall 11 and I was a short ten.

We walked, we talked, we laughed, she kissed me on the cheek - then took my sweets and escaped to the relative safety of her dad's Ford Escort.

I suppose technically I lost my heart and my Opel Fruits that sunny, Saturday afternoon.

It certainly didn't put me off visiting The City Of Tribes though.

Over the years I've enjoyed short holidays, stag weekends, rugby tours and the complete craziness of Galway Races.

All the trips have been very different, but all have been so much fun.

With coronavirus ending most people's plans for a foreign holiday this year many travellers are rediscovering the joy of staycations.

Galway for me is the perfect choice for families and The Galmont Hotel & Spa is difficult to beat as a choice of safe and luxurious accommodation in the city.

Situated near the main Galway to Dublin road and close to the city's bus terminals and train station, the hotel couldn't be better placed for guests arriving for a weekend break.

Built on an elevated site overlooking the sea inlet of Lough Atalia, Galway Bay and the craggy beauty of the Burren across the water, some would also argue it's the best-placed hotel in the city too.

With the ample parking underneath the building giving direct access to the hotel lobby, it's easy to just leave the car and relax.

Although some are still closed because of Covid-19, many of Galway's best pubs and bars are less than a 10-minute walk away - in fact most of the city's best shops and attractions are right on your doorstep.

It's also easy to just jump in your car if you want to explore the glories of Connemara - or simply book one of the many tours available locally.

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One the bedrooms in the Galmont

One the bedrooms in the Galmont

One the bedrooms in the Galmont

There are 275 rooms at the Galmont. All are modern and spacious with brilliant showers, comfy beds, tea and coffee-making facilities and mineral water and all the usual tech mod cons.

We were lucky enough to be staying in a room on the fourth floor with an absolutely stunning view over Lough Atalia.

Of course many people visit the hotel just to enjoy the subterranean Spirit One Spa.

It provides a haven of peace and tranquillity, using fantastic products from Elemis, Fuschia Make-Up, Lindi Skin and Max Benjamin.

With a range of treatment rooms and a highly-experienced team, it's no surprise that the hotel won Spa Hotel of the Year in Connacht & Spa Therapist of the Year at the 2019 Irish Hotel Awards, Resident Spa of the Year at the Irish Beauty Industry Awards 2017 and Best Elemis Treatment at the RSVP Spa Awards 2017.

There's also a full fitness centre, including an 18-metre pool which is now bookable in one-hour time slots to keep a tight control on the number of people using the facility in these post-lockdown times.

It has to be said that when it comes to safety the hotel really does do a fantastic job following enhanced health, safety and cleanliness protocols.

Overall standards for hygiene and cleanliness are very high with hand sanitisers available in all areas and staff make a real effort to make you feel safe at all times.

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The food at Marinas Grill was amazing

The food at Marinas Grill was amazing

The food at Marinas Grill was amazing

Marinas Grill is the main restaurant in the hotel, and it's a lovely space to eat with massive windows overlooking the lough.

Not surprisingly there's plenty of wonderful seafood dishes on offer - I can certainly vouch for the amazing grilled sea bass (left) with a delicious lemon butter sauce, asparagus and creamy mash I had for dinner one evening.

Mind you the overnight roasted short rib of beef with honey-glazed root vegetables and port jus was equally as good.

Special mention should also be made of the wine list which is particularly impressive.

Breakfast is also served here with a very tasty buffet spread being plated by staff from behind a glass screen to keep diners safe.

Of course there are lots of lighter options too which are provided by the courteous and masked waiting staff.

Coopers Bar & Lounge is at the heart of hotel and offers a relaxed and light-filled series of spaces with window seats that have great views over the water, an outside terrace for when the sun shines and cosy couches inside for when it doesn't. If you fancy getting a real breath of fresh air I can definitely recommend a Galway Bay Boat Tour (galwaybaytours.com or galwaydocklands.com).

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Noah Frazer gets to 'skipper' the boat around Galway Bay

Noah Frazer gets to 'skipper' the boat around Galway Bay

Noah Frazer gets to 'skipper' the boat around Galway Bay

Join legendary local fisherman, Ciaran Oliver, who represents one of the last surviving lobster and shrimp fishing families in County Galway on a magical boat trip across the tranquil waters of Galway Bay.

It's a great opportunity to embrace nature and enjoy the expansive views that reach the city, sea and the Unesco site of the Burren in County Clare.

Ciaran - and skipper Colette who took us out in the bay - are both wonderfully passionate about the area and you can't help but be impressed as they talk about the ancient fishing village of Claddagh and their love of the iconic Galway Hooker boats.

When you get back on dry land make sure to call into the wonderful Galway Bay Seafoods before you head home (thedocksidedeligalway.com) - trust me you will not be disappointed.

Belfast Telegraph