Originally an eighteenth century residence, Glenlo Abbey is just two and a half miles from Galway city yet, beautifully located on a 138-acre estate, with its own golf course and Pavilion, it offers all the advantages of the country.
Although it is not a very big hotel, the scale is generous: public rooms are impressive in an old fashioned way, and comfortable big, traditionally-furnished, bedrooms have marbled bathrooms.
For indoor relaxation, the Oak Cellar Bar serves light food and, in addition to the classical River Room Restaurant - a lovely bright room with tables tiered to take full advantage of lovely views over Lough Corrib and the surrounding countryside.
The restored Abbey is now used for meetings and private dining, with business services to back up meetings and conferences.
Glenlo Abbey offers something different from other hotels in Galway and, while some may find it dated, others will embrace its old fashioned nature and the warmly friendly staff who show genuine interest in their guests.
Conference/banqueting 180/160; business centre, secretarial services, video conferencing, free broadband wi/fi. Golf (9 & 18 hole); fishing, equestrian, cycling, walking. Children welcome (under 2s free in parents' room, cot available, baby sitting arranged). No pets. Garden. Boutique.
Rooms 46 (4 suites, 1 junior suite, 41 executive, 17 ground floor, 1 for disabled, all no-smoking). Wheelchair access. Lift. 24 hr room service. Room rates from €190. Ample parking. Helipad. Open all year except Christmas.
This is the restaurant of choice at Glenlo Abbey - perhaps the country’s most novel dinner venue, it was our Atmospheric Restaurant of the Year in 2005: four carriages, two of them from the original Orient Express that featured in scenes from “Murder on the Orient Express”, filmed in 1974.
Adapting it to restaurant use has been achieved brilliantly, with no expense spared in maintaining the special features of a luxurious train. There is a lounge/bar area leading to an open dining carriage and two private ‘coupes’ compartments, each seating up to six.
Background ‘clackity-clack’ and hooting noises lend an authenticity to the experience and the romance is sustained by discreetly piped music of the 1940s and 50s. The view from the windows is of a coiffeured golf course, Lough Corrib and Connemara hills in the distance.
Welcome by smart staff is pleasant, service throughout exemplary. Tables are set up as on a train, with silver cutlery, simple glassware and white linen (although napkins are paper); the food is suitably inclined to Asian influences and, while not cutting edge, it is very enjoyable.
In line with the fun of the theme, you could begin your meal with a Pullman Summer Salad - and even end it with Poirot’s Pie (apple tart); more typically, try an excellent ‘Assiette of Oriental Appetisers’ including sushi, sashimi, prawn tempura, smoked salmon, and mini spring roll, soy sauce and wasabi - and follow with a main course of ‘Beijing Kao Ya’, deliciously crisp-skinned roast half duck with a home-made barbecue & pomegranate sauce.
Short, well-chosen wine list. Recommended as much for its unique, special occasion experience as for the fare - but the cooking is reliable and a visit is always enjoyable.