Galgorm Resort & Spa is set in over 150 acres of green fields and parkland with the River Maine flowing close by the hotel and through the estate. The hotel is an old house to the front, leading to a seamless, more modern extension. There are 122 guestrooms & suites, numerous restaurants and bars, and one of the things that sets Galgorm apart, a Thermal Village & Spa.
Disclaimer: I was invited to a recent Gin evening at Galgorm, as it was mid week and I was unable to take time off work to attend this, they invited me to stay and dine with them another evening with a complimentary dining escape package. This review is my honest view and opinion of our stay at Galgorm Resort & Spa.
We arrived just after lunch on a Sunday, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Dublin. An exceptionally busy car park but we found a space and made our way back to the hotel entrance in the older part of the hotel. We were greeted at the door, shown through to the lobby area where we were brought through the hotel (with a mini guided tour en route) to the separate reception for the deluxe rooms. From there we were checked in swiftly, and brought to our room on the 5th floor.
The views from the room were beautiful, across the thermal village spa and to the river and trees beyond. The room is modern and functional, great touches like the height adjustable table making it suitable as a coffee table or dining table. The design is rustic and cosy, tartans, wood, moss greens. A modern bathroom with a fantastic rain shower completed the room.
The mini-bar stocked with waters, beers and soft drinks is complimentary as is a little snack box with crisps and biscuits which is a lovely touch.
A few things about the room we weren’t so keen on, it’s a narrow long room so while we were there on a bright summer day, I can imagine on another day it would be quite dark. The bed was exceptionally comfortable but it was hard to appreciate it, as was so hot and there was no air conditioning. The bathroom is beautiful but with terrible lighting that is not designed for short people. He was fine though so think it was a height issue rather than lighting.
The Thermal Village is alongside the river bank, with indoor and outdoor heated pools, steam rooms, saunas, loungers and riverside hot tubs. These hot tubs can be reserved for private use – next time I visit that’s what I will be doing…you can book a package with the hot tub and champagne which sounds idyllic.
On Sunday afternoon, we could see from our room that the thermal village was very busy, there was people everywhere on the grass and in the pools, but we headed down anyway. That was a mistake…it was crowded and loud, due to it being such a nice day. There was a couple of hen parties and people ordering drinks and having fun which is fine of course, but not the relaxing spa vibe I was looking for. We stayed for a very quick dip in one of the outdoor pools, and escaped back to our room. We did come back the next morning though which was much nicer.
We went for a stroll around the hotel and grounds and found ourselves in the Mulberry Garden which is the outside seating area for the bar (Gillies) and Italian restaurant (Fratelli). We ordered a drink and enjoyed the June sunshine with a cool bottle of beer and people watching as there was lots of comings and goings throughout the afternoon.
We had booked a table for dinner in the River Room Restaurant and went along to the Champagne & Gin Bar in the conservatory for a pre-dinner drink. The setting is magnificent, with views of the river and a vast array of gins on display at the entrance. I did stop to have a little look, to see if I could spot the gins we have in our collection or new ones I really want to add. The conservatory is set up slightly different in the daytime for Afternoon Tea (next time!).
We were served by the very helpful and knowledgeable Marcus who brought us a Gin Martini and a Gin & Tonic. Both were excellent, I loved the glass that the G&T was served in. We then tried their house gin cocktail, a little too sweet for my taste but looks oh so pretty!
If Gin is your thing, there’s a Gin Club here in Galgorm with quarterly Gin Club events, personal tasting cards, complimentary G&S (every 10th) and discounted accommodation on the Gin Club event nights.
Then it was onto dinner in the River Room. We had ordered food & wine while we were enjoying our drinks in the gin bar. We had a window side table and settled in to enjoy what was to come. The chairs were the most comfortable dining chairs, really supportive and not too soft (yes I’m old!).
The meal started on a high with beautifully delicate amuse bouche snacks and homemade breads with abernethy butter. Starters of quail and asparagus with a hens egg were exquisite. It dipped a little with the main courses, his beef was a very small portion as was my fish. They were both good dishes, just not quite as finessed as the starters were, so perhaps our expectations had been set high.
But then the evening soared, with the amazing cheese trolley… we selected the 9 cheeses to share, and happily chose our cheeses from the trolley, with the result was this wonderful cheese board and accompaniments.
The wine list in the River Room is excellent, lots of great choices in the £25-£40 category which is always good to see. After much back and forth we selected a bottle of Scottus Zinfandel. And at the end of the meal, after all of the cheese, we had a little sweet touch with these petit fours…
We returned to the Gin Bar for a digestif and headed to bed full & happy.
The next morning we went down for breakfast, which was in the River Room. A very tempting buffet display of cereals, yogurts, cold meats, pastries and a menu for hot food to order from. We enjoyed the traditional breakfasts, mine with scrambled eggs and his with fried and worked our way around some of the buffet too. After breakfast we visited the thermal spa also which was a lovely way to round off our stay.
The 3 things we loved…
- The Mulberry Garden for al fresco dining & drinking
- The Gin Bar for the expansive gin menu and setting in the conservatory
- The cheese trolley in the River Room Restaurant
And a bonus entry for the stunning floral displays throughout the hotel…
We left contented and relaxed, planning to return soon I hope. As I mentioned at the start of this review, we were invited to stay and the Dining Escape package (one night’s overnight accommodation in a Deluxe Riverview room, full Irish breakfast, evening meal in the River Room, use of the Thermal areas) was complimentary. The rest was at our own expense. Thanks for Galgorm for hosting us, we had a truly great night away and your gin bar is the stuff of dreams!
Galgorm Resort & Spa | Galgorm BT42 1EA, Co. Antrim, N.Ireland | +44 (0)28 2588 1001