Galway, Ireland

Photo: The g Hotel & Spa

You spent the morning at the largest spa in Ireland. Your time began with the thermal experience. A vitality pool with massaging water jets. Lifestyle showers with warm tropical rain and brisk arctic mist options. An ice fountain to quickly cool off. A crystal steam room that hydrates with humidity and essential oils. A traditional, wood-lined rock sauna. Tepidarium-heated stone loungers. You followed it up with a sea salt smoother. Salt and oil were used to exfoliate your body. Then you lounged in the relaxation room. It overlooks the bamboo-filled Zen garden on the rooftop.

You spent the afternoon in the swanky Grand Salon. A raspberry catwalk leads to the surreal space. Three hundred mirrorballs hang overhead. A massive wall of windows looks out at Lough Atalia. The floral afternoon tea is decadent. Ronnefeldt loose leaf tea. Freshly baked scones with clotted cream. A selection of savory bites including smoked chicken, roasted sirloin, and classic prawn cocktail. An assortment of sweet treats like dark-chocolate mousse verrine, pistachio-and-rosewater-glazed donuts, lemon-and-poppyseed choux buns, and caramel ice cream and toasted hazelnut cones. Glasses of Valdo Prosecco and Galway gin and tonics capped off the not-so-light meal.

Photo: The g Hotel & Spa

This indulgent day is courtesy of the g Hotel & Spa. The ultra-chic hotel sits on the edge of the Galway. Its three-story, glass-and-steel building is striking amid a largely residential neighborhood. Philip Treacy, the famous milliner, designed the glamourous space. The Galway native filled the stark black reception area with an exotic aquarium and giant silver baubles. That fruit-colored carpet leads down the hall to Restaurant gigi’s and three signature lounges. The former serves innovative Irish cuisine at purple, seashell-shaped banquettes. While the latter—the Grand Salon plus the Pink Ladies Lounge and the Gentleman’s Lounge—have a posh nightclub vibe.

With such an over-the-top entrance, you expected the same in the rooms. Not true. The spaces are minimal and surprisingly restrained. Natural light. Neutral hues. Wooden furniture. The flair is subtle. Fashion sketches. Hat-shaped lampshades. The amenities are modern. Plasma televisions set up with Netflix. Walk-in power showers. Plus your floor-to-ceiling windows face the water.

One of the two current European Capitals of Culture stands in the distance. Galway lies on the west coast of Ireland along the River Corrib. The City of the Tribes grew around an English fort. It remained loyal to the English Crown through the mid-17th century when it allied itself with the Catholic Confederation during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Since then, it’s become the cultural heart of Ireland. It’s also known as a festive university town, a foodie hotspot, and one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe. Now you just have to tear yourself away from your cozy bubble to start exploring it.

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