The Dean Galway hotel review - cool rooms and a rooftop restaurant on Prospect Hill
The daring Dean hotel is a buzzy, good-looking fit for Galway
There are three Dean hotels in Ireland now, and like all good product upgrades, they’ve nailed a template, replicated the elements that work, and innovated a little further with each new edition.
Following sister hotels in Dublin (2014) and Cork (2020), The Dean in Galway is a 101-bed addition to Prospect Hill. You’ll recognise Sophie’s rooftop restaurant (with views as far as the Burren), shedloads of salvaged wood, punchy Irish art and the saucy neon scrawl over reception (‘Ooh la la’ reads this one by Irish artist Domino Whisker).
It’s design-led, mischief-sprinkled and underpinned by a laser focus on what guests want — from lobby charging points and barista coffee to Dyson hairdryers in the gym, elevator lobbies separated from bedroom corridors by key-activated doors, and sassy cocktails (‘Giving Shade’, ‘Tis Yeah!’; €13).
To this template, the Galway getaway adds a small-but-funky outdoor hydrotherapy pool — with flamingo murals and a golden bell to order drinks — the West’s first Elephant & Castle restaurant, and a boxing studio set in a section of the old Galway-to-Clifden railway tunnel.
“We don’t do conventional,” it says. “We do fun.”
The Rating: 8/10
Arrival & location
Galway’s Dean is a short stroll from Eyre Square, its limestone facade alternating bush-hammered and sand-blasted finishes to evoke the lights and shades of the West. It’s a head-turning, if slightly awkward, addition to a mainly residential area (when I photograph the pool from an upper floor, a lady is tending her garden just over the wall).
Inside, the lobby is a tight, glitzy space with low lighting and showy features that may leave you needing a few seconds to get your bearings. There’s a Dime Coffee counter, a small, scalloped reception desk with a pair of iMacs and merch shelves (think hats from €15, or hoodies from €40), and doors leading to Peg’s Bar and Elephant & Castle.
It’s all good-looking and buzzy. Whether dolled up at night, or lolling with luggage under your eyes the following morning, this little crossroads clicks. 7.5/10
Service & style
I always leave Press Up hotels with interiors ideas (even if they are never realised at home). The eclectic approach can be a lot to take in, but the mismatching is carefully curated, and elements — be it the 350 artworks, glossy bathroom tiles or rear exterior’s chequerboard finish — tend to draw you in at both a conceptual and individual level.
Peg’s Bar is a reboot of Hogan’s pub, which reopens with a new Liscannor stone floor, low-slung timber ceiling, and nostalgic photos of Galway. In the basement, Power gym infuses its hi-tech treadmills, weights, classes and boxing studio with splashes of natural light and greenery. It’s “more akin to what is found in New York or London”, says Press Up’s head of fitness, Ben Leonard-Kane.
Through it all, service is casual but well-drilled, from servers who know their menus to hip receptionists (even the manager wears jeans and trainers). 8/10
Rooms range from 12.6sqm ModPods to larger doubles and suites with lounging areas. Backgrounded with salmon or teal panelling, expect comfy beds, rainforest showers and frisky design touches — from mini Marshall amps to ‘Irish Munchies Tray’ filled with treats like Tayto and Caffreys Snowballs (€2). There are free condoms and sanitary products, and a sprinkling of Irish craft drinks (Wicklow Wolf beers or Skellig Six 18 gin, for example), too.
My suite (‘The Harry’) adds a standalone copper bath, and there are thick towels and foolproof WiFi. There is also, however, just one small window, which looks directly onto several other rooms around a courtyard. The spacey sound of the air-con is also hard to tune out. But overall, these are playful, practical and evocatively lit designs — and ideas increasingly being borrowed elsewhere. 8/10
Food & drink
Sophie’s rooftop bar and restaurant (mind those swings!) brings a terrace, third-floor views, curvy leather booths, large planters and botanical prints together in a glossy, social saloon space that feels both spendy and unintimidating... a lethal mix. A U-shaped bar tiled in splashy pink anchors it all, and well-balanced menus pop with steaks, fish, wood-fired pizza, pasta and cocktails.
A grilled fillet of hake is pretty flawless (€26.50) — a juicy piece that feels both delicate and comforting, served with potatoes, chorizo, buttered greens and a “chive bittered vermouth sauce” that I lash on liberally.
Other mains range from a pumpkin and leek risotto (€19) to a rib-eye (€40). A starter of seared scallops with oyster mushrooms and smoked bacon (€14.50) isn’t as good; its cauliflower purée tastes too milky to me, and the scallops are a little off-temp. But the table is roundly happy.
Elephant & Castle is the other option (don’t miss the chicken wings), with breakfast back at Sophie’s. That’s a short à la carte list, from which I order fresh juice, a nicely presented plate of granola, yoghurt and honey (€7.95) and eggs Benedict (€13.95) - it’s quite plain, with sourdough that takes some sawing. The views shine, though. 7/10
The bottom line
Plans for the Dean brand now include Birmingham. It’s easy to argue that Press Up Group hotels are samey, that their financial muscle and template-driven approach squeezes out other independent prospects. But the hotels are also good at what they do, punters vote with their feet, and they’ve forced Irish peers to up their game. They’ve had a Hoxton- or Ace-sized influence on this island.
A few EV and disabled spots are the only parking on site. The City Park at Fairgreen Road (with a €12 daily rate day) is a five-minute walk away.
Galway’s Christmas market runs from November 16 to December 22. A Dean package has B&B, a cocktail and dinner from €149pp, based on two sharing.
Room-only rates from €155, with a winter cocktail included. Pól was a guest of the hotel. thedean.ie