The Getaway: Galway's Twelve Hotel
Frank Coughlan checks into one of Galway's favourite four-stars...
Set the Mood
Well, the mood wasn't too good to begin with. That's what January does to you. All that cold, dark and rain, often at the same time. Then there's this #onthedry nonsense. Really, as if being broke and suffering from Vitamin D deficiency isn't enough of a cross to bear.
As soon as we crossed the threshold of The Twelve, however, that awful mood dissolved like a west of Ireland dew. And it was replaced by a much more uplifting one. A slogan over the entrance read: 'You've arrived'. That, we had.
Chilly January was almost done, so we decided to leave that awful month behind us without as much as a backward glance.
Barna village is the gateway town for the Galway Gaeltacht, but before you go anywhere you need to eat. The hotel's buzzy Pins Gastro Bar does imaginative lunches and is reasonable with it, but for a dine n' wine experience to remember, The West restaurant has to be on your roster for dinner.
My loin of lamb (€26) - succulent, pink and dripping with flavour - was truly exceptional. Debs opted for a vegetarian dish of polenta and peppers (€18ish) - odd choice, but seemingly delicious - and we both went with the sommelier's pick for the three courses (€22). I had a cracking round and fleshy Californian red called Burlesque with my main. When I win the Lotto, I'm buying the vineyard.
For those of us (that is, most of us) who live in average houses and sleep in average beds, one of the guiltiest pleasures in getting away to a nice hotel is flopping down in a enormous scratcher wide enough to sleep all the Waltons at the one time.
Our suite - it had a kitchen-cum-bar too -boasted a bed so generously proportioned that my tremulous snoring never got to reach the other side. I'm going to buy one as soon as I have a bedroom big enough to fit it.
My wife's guilty pleasure took years off her too: an anti-ageing restorative facial (€95) in Le Petit Spa.
They haven't taxed walking yet (the Troika did think of it, but chose water instead), and there are any number of good strolls and hikes in and around Barna. The pier is little more than a stone's throw away and the rugged coastline is easily accessible from it.
Barna Woods, which hugs Galway city's boundary, is a charmer, but if you just want to belt out a few energetic miles, the shuffle into Salthill is invigorating without being punishing. Silver Strand is within easy reach too, but on a day when the wind-chill factor off the ice blue Atlantic was in the serious minuses, we decided to wave at it rather than visit.
And while we're on good value, The Mulberry restaurant (mulberrys.ie) up the street does a three-course early bird for €25. It is, by all accounts, great value.
The Twelve, Galway
So you know
The Twelve (called after the undulating peaks that dominate the landscape) is an ubercool boutique hotel and while slap in the middle of some stunning countryside, it's an establishment with a very urban feel. So don't expect rolling grounds and a sweeping driveway leading up to a majestic old pile. This place is hip. The only thing that separates The Pins bar from a lookalike south Dublin gastropub are the kilometres between them.
The Twelve (thetwelvehotel.ie) has a wide range of midweek and weekend offers. For instance, a one-night gourmet midweek treat starts at €165pps. If you're not driving, the 424 bus from Eyre Square in Galway to Spiddal will drop you at the door. Taxis cost about €15.
It's the little things that do it. Checking out of The Twelve, you'll be given a voucher for a free coffee and roll in The Pins - the hotel's small bakery. If you're not stuffed after breakfast (top notch eggs benedict, by the way), don't miss out.