When it comes to destination spas, Ireland has much to offer. However, The g Hotel has always stood out for its glamour, unforgettable design and high-quality spa treatments. With a celebrated fashion impresario at the helm of design, a trip to the g will always be a stylish affair.

The team at RTÉ LifeStyle were invited down to Galway City to sample the digs, the food and - most importantly - the treatments. 

Perched on the lip of Lough Atalia, just five minutes’ drive away from Galway centre, the g Hotel offers just enough tranquility for the traveler tired of the city - but not that tired. The impressive modern building peers, mirror-like over the lough, and is as chic as it is dramatic.

Inside, of course, is all drama, something to be expected given the interiors were dreamed up by celebrated milliner Philip Treacy, who has been the Design Director of the g Hotel since it opened in 2005.

Walking into the dark marble-enrobed lobby is an experience unlike any other, the sparkling black walls hinting at the sense of drama that defines the rest of the hotel. Beyond the glass doors is a spacious oyster-hued Grand Salon, featuring sweeping views of the lough and decorated with ornate hanging sculptures. In the evenings, a grand piano provides the soundtrack to cocktail hour, taken in either the pink Ladies Salon or blue Gentleman’s Lounge.

The moody and dramatic Gentleman's Lounge. Photo: Charlotte Ryan

Considering that Treacy is the man behind some of the most extravagant hats fashion has ever seen, and someone who counts Lady Gaga as a frequent client, it is unsurprising that the hotel is a celebration of glamour, kitch and whimsy. Taking design notes from the ocean that so defines Galway, and his experience of the city, the hotel is an enchanting oceanic sanctuary.

The hypnotic Ladies Salon. Photo: Charlotte Ryan

However, seeing the all-pink drawing room, made all the more striking by the full-length gold mirrors and hypnotic black and white carpet, is still a particularly delightful and bewitching experience.

No doubt by design, the suites at the g Hotel are comparatively understated, but no less stylish, favouring soft neutrals and plush fabrics over the riotous palette of the ground floor. We shared a Junior Suite, which included two luxurious twin beds that provided the perfect vantage point of the nearby lough, which glistened beautifully at every point in the day.

Decidedly modern in design, the minimalist-meets-maximalist ethos was on full display in the room, with a sleek freestanding bathtub contrasting with evocative design features, such as the oyster-like bedside lamps and door hands that curve elegantly like shells.

The Junior Suite. Photo: The g Hotel

All creature comforts are catered for, with robes, slippers, a coffee machine and lush locally made toiletries provided. We were particularly pleased to find dainty petit fours awaiting our arrival and continuing the Barbie pink theme.

While the g Hotel may be renowned as a destination spa, it deserves as much recognition for its exquisite restaurant, Restaurant gigi’s, which dishes up some of the most exciting food in Galway.

Continuing the oceanic theme, clam-shaped booths in rich purple velvet envelop you, casting you in your own version of Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’, and the intimate dining room is made all the more snug by the jewel-toned colour palette.

Restaurant gigi’s has two equally delicious dining options: the Delight menu for early diners, which costs €33.50 for two courses or €39.95 for three, and the Indulge menu, a decadent á la carte menu. After some delectable cocktails in the Gentleman’s Lounge, we were treated to the Indulge menu.

An amuse bouche of scallop on braised beef. Photo: Charlotte Ryan

A sumptuous amuse bouche of Scallop on Braised Beef whetted our appetite, showcasing the best of the region’s produce in one bite. For starters, the Connemara Air Dried Ham and the Baked Camembert with plum purrée and toasted sourdough were delicious, while our mains of Pan Roasted Halibut and Pan Seared Duck Breast were outstanding.

Duck with plums. Photo: Charlotte Ryan

Especially striking were the desserts of Lemon & Raspberry Parfait and Mini Churros, arranged artfully on plates with a variety of textures and colours.

Lemon & Raspberry Parfait was a riot of colours. Photo: Charlotte Ryan

In the morning light, the dining room looks less like a jewellery box than a collection of sea glass, and transitions seamlessly from a dramatic restaurant to a tranquil breakfast room. The buffet-style breakfast is generous, including everything from scones to chia seed pudding, while the hot menu features breakfast classics like eggs benedict and French toast.

Billing itself as a "Spa hotel" establishes a level of expectation that - happily - the g Hotel delivers on. While the spa in question might not be the largest one in the country, it is certainly one of the most memorable, as dramatic and striking as any other part of the tstunning hotel.

The Thermal Suite feels like an underwater cave, with dark walls illuminated by colourful lights and the bubbling vitality hydro pool beckoning you. Complete with a Rock Sauna, Crystal Steam Room, Tepidarium Heated Lounger and Lifestyle Showers, you have everything you need to unwind.

The atmospheric Thermal Suite at the ESPA. Photo: The g Hotel 

As part of the ESPA network, the focus is on natural, holistic treatments that nourish the body, an ethos that is reflected once you climb the stairs to the glass pavilion, a glass-walled room hung with curtains and outfitted with luxurious heated loungers. Overlooking a zen garden, you feel cloistered from the hustle and bustle of your normal life, and instantly calm.

As for the treatments, we received the ESPA Reviving Back, Face & Scalp package, a deeply relaxing experience and not to be missed if possible. Starting with a gentle foot bathing ritual, I was then presented with a range of essential oils to blind-smell. The body will naturally respond to that which it lacks, according to the technique.

Next is an invigorating back exfoliation and a soothing hot stone massage that banishes tension from your muscles. After analysing my skin with a UV light, a customised facial was prepared for me, leaving my skin refreshed, smooth and glowing. Finishing with a scalp massage, I emerged radiant and relaxed.

We stayed as guests of the g Hotel and Spa, Old Dublin Road, Co Galway. T: +353 (091) 865 200.

We were treated to One Nights Junior Suite with breakfast and dinner at Restaurant gigi’s, plus one ESPA Reviving Back, Face & Scalp treatment and a 25-minute neck and shoulder massage. We were also granted one hour's access to the ESPA Thermal Spa.

Dine and Dream package
The Dine and Dream package is currently available, offering a superior room for a serene night’s sleep, a delicious full Irish Breakfast, and a 4-course dinner with the finest of Galway ingredients in the wonderful Restaurant gigi’s. The rate for this package starts from €365.

Other spas in the area include:

  • Spirit One at The Galmont Hotel & Spa
  • Le Petit Spa at The Twelve Hotel
  • Piorra Beauty Spa