Multi-colored glass ornaments hanging above the reception desk and a branch on an adjacent wall decorated with pink and purple ribbons and baubles create an immediate festive-like atmosphere in the lobby of The House Hotel in the western Irish city of Galway, an effect enhanced by a rainbow of gaily-colored armchairs with different patterns.
Add to this, witty sayings distributed around the walls such as ‘Smile, you’re designed to’ and ‘The Best Time for New Beginnings is Now,’ and a helpful receptionist in Mathew from the nearby town of Carna and you have a warm, welcoming, homey-like atmosphere.
Increasing this 4-star boutique hotel’s attractiveness is its convenient central location to the popular ‘Latin American Quarter,’ a name derived from the city’s historic trading ties with Spain. Walk out the back of the ground-floor restaurant, The Bistro, which also serves as the breakfast room, and you’re right beside the city’s most well-known theater, The Druid, which hosts performances nationally and internationally. Just one hundred meters beyond is the narrow, bustling pedestrian Quay Street, lined with pubs, clubs and cafes, some featuring Irish traditional musicians playing accordion, tin whistle and fiddle and others offering live jazz, pop and rock ‘n roll music. Not to mention an array of talented street buskers. Shop Street and Eyre Square, filled with stores of all kinds, are within easy walking distance and the famous ‘Spanish Arch’ and the city museum are also close by.
The 40-room House Hotel occupies a listed building, a site that was once Brennan’s Steel Works, later called Brennan’s Yard, which once employed generations of local people. Now it is a cool, chic kind of place that’s a popular venue for personal celebrations such as hen parties, with special packages that include bed and breakfast, 3-course dinner, live musical entertainment and even fun cocktail-making classes with a professional mixologist.
An innovative concept called ‘Fabulous Friday’ entices guests and non-guests with a creative menu of cocktails, including classic cosmopolitans and daiquiris. The potent ‘Jammy Jemmy’ is a blend of Jameson whisky, apricot jam, fresh blackberries, lime juice and orange bitters while ‘The Duchess,’ made in honor of Camilla Parker, second wife of Prince Charles, who paid a visit, comprises Dingle gin, St. Germain Elderflower tonic, Mumm champagne and orange and rosemary infused ice-cubes. Young mixologist Thomas also prepares drinks to individual tastes. Mine was a ‘James & Jackson,’ using Jameson whiskey, ginger, bitters, egg white, black pepper and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur.
Afternoon teas, with champagne and gin options, are also popular choices (the hotel was one of the sites for the city’s recent gin festival).
Breakfast is continental buffet style and a la carte, with the traditional Irish version of grilled black pudding, sausages, bacon and tomatoes being a hearty option for the hungrier among us. While there is no on-site hotel parking, guests receive a discount at a nearby multi-storey car park.
The dinner menu is simple yet inviting with some of highlights being home-made fish cakes as starters with herbs and garlic pesto inside and served with a relish of tomatoes, scallions and cilantro decorated with aquilegia flowers, and hearty steaks accompanied by grilled Portobello mushrooms and asparagus.
Not only does the House Hotel offer easy access to the Galway’s cultural and shopping highlights (don’t miss a visit to the city’s lively market) but a short drive away is the picturesque Connemara coastline, some of it through the heart of Ireland’s most populated Gaelic-speaking region around the folksy village of Spiddal (An Spidéal) on the shores of Galway Bay.
For city convenience, a bright, cheerful ambience and as a launching point for exploring Ireland’s rugged ‘Wild Atlantic Way,’ the House Hotel is a well-considered choice in the heart of Galway city.