Going for it in Galway

The Hedonist: What to see and where to be seen

Stepping out of the plane into the tiny building that is Knock Airport, I begin to have second thoughts. This airport is too small. How can a hedonist possibly find a good time in the countryside? Will there be cocktails? Two hours and miles of eyeball-tingling green scenery later, we arrive in Galway, a bustling city sitting right along the edge of the big, bad Atlantic Ocean.

The House Hotel (00 353 91 538 900; thehousehotel.ie) is our luxe retreat. As we check in, it's all pinks and sparkles and friendly staff, which goes at least some way to counteracting the weather (lashing rain) as does the promise of big-girl drinks in the sleek downstairs bar.

Happily, by morning the rain has cleared away as – bleary-eyed – we head for what I've been assured is the best breakfast in Galway at Lohan's (00 353 91 522 696; lohans.ie) in Salthill. We munch huge Irish breakfasts – bacon, sausages, eggs, black and white pudding – overlooking the icy blue waters of Galway Bay just outside.

We're meeting friends, so we grab a taxi back into the city centre. Our pals are engaging in a little retail therapy, which is never a bad idea, so we wander up the aptly named Shop Street, then find our way into Brown Thomas (00 353 91 565 254; brownthomas.com), where I resist the urge for a pair of Jimmy Choos but do manage to pick up a gorgeous Orla Kiely scarf as a souvenir.

Our friends then usher us down Quay Street to a bright blue pub we'd passed on the way up – Tigh Neachtain (00 353 91 568 820; tighneachtain.com). Several pints of Guinness later, the day has already started to get away from us. However, we are assured there are even better pints of Guinness to be had in Galway, so we head up the street to McDonagh's (00 353 91 565 001; mcdonaghs.net) for a heaped plate of some of the finest fish and chips I've ever tucked into, before moving on to The Dail Bar (00 353 91 563 777; thedailbar.com) for a few more velvety brews.

We pop back to the House to freshen up and drop off our shopping, then take a pre-dinner stroll up to the Michelin-starred Aniar (00 353 91 535 947; aniarrestaurant.ie), where head chef Enda McEvoy does a terroir-based menu of daily specials – the scallops with black pudding and cauliflower are a perfect match for Galway's fresh sea atmosphere.

From here, we continue around the corner to the quaint Crane Bar (00 353 91 587 419; the cranebar.com). Yet another round of Guinness later, we venture to the upstairs bar and cosy in for a candlelit traditional Irish music session.

We sample some more foot tapping and pint spilling in the completely unpronounceable Tig Coili (00 353 91 561 294), until they finally blink the lights to signal it's time to get home.

Next morning after a hearty hotel breakfast, there is only one thing for it: spa day. That's where the ESPA Spa at the g (00 353 91 865 200; theg.ie) comes in. This boutique hotel boasts one of the sexiest spas in Galway. I make a beeline for the thermal suite for a proper detox and then on to a facial at the expert hands of one of the spa's amazing therapists.

Welcome to the west of Ireland.

A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more info, see hg2.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor