Galway has always been a city close to my heart, thanks to many fond memories of childhood holidays in the Salthill area, so when I was given the opportunity to stay at the five-star Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, I jumped at the chance.
This fantastic hotel, with its old-world charm, contemporary elegance and gentle grandeur, can rightly boast that it has the most unique dining experience as it was there that I enjoyed a fabulous meal aboard the Orient Express.
The Pullman Restaurant, in the grounds of the hotel, comprises two antique railway carriages from the famous train. As well as starring in the classic Agatha Christie film, Murder on the Orient Express, one also formed part of the funeral cortege of Winston Churchill in 1965.
Their history is spelled out for you on the menu but, trust me, you will sense the history by sitting for any length of time in one of the carriages with their wood panelling, antique lace curtains and fine china.
The food was excellent, so little wonder that awards it has won include two AA Rosettes, Best Private Dining with the Restaurant Association of Ireland, and a 2017 Gold Medal Award for Ireland’s Fine Dining Restaurant.
Glenlo Abbey is rightly proud of sourcing excellent local produce, and this was clear on every plate. Of particular note for me was the Castlemine lamb, which came with black garlic and carrot sauce, accompanied by some superb rosemary and sea salt potatoes. The waiter had recommended it and he was right on the money. I also sampled the wonderful Galway pollock with hispi cabbage, parsley and horseradish, which again was perfection.
The beautifully restored carriages aren’t the only pieces of history on site. The hotel on the banks of Lough Corrib is itself steeped in history. The abbey was built in 1740 for the Ffrench family, one of the original 14 tribes of Galway. Its original features are still there for all to see, including a chapel built for the private use of the lady of the house.
The rooms in the hotel exude grandeur with their period furniture, plush carpets and elegant decor. The uber comfortable king-size bed and its pillows were among the best I have ever laid my head on. The marble bathrooms are also opulent with L’Occitane toiletries lined up for you on arrival.
The hotel is family-friendly with junior menus available and a tepee can be installed in your bedroom for the little ones, with interconnecting rooms and babysitting, cots and rollaway beds also available. When you can tear yourself away from the bed, check out the hotel’s cinema. You can even watch Murder on the Orient Express there — an experience to remember after dining on the Pullman.
Martin Breen, Contributor with Belfast Telegraph
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