Leave the passport at home and indulge in the award-winning Galgorm and its new sister hotel The Rabbit
The smug but shocked look on her face – coupled with an exaggerated eye roll – would suggest the scene she is now being greeted with was not at all what she expected.
In her defense, when she left the Rabbit Hotel’s outdoor pool nearly two hours earlier, I promised her I’d relax on a lounge chair and “catch up on my emails” while she was away.
None of us expected the atmosphere to turn up so high, with flowing cocktails, pumping music and the little old me craicing with a bunch of other hotel guests. hotel.
Charismatic bartenders Gary and Karl were busy satisfying us with beers and delicious cocktails called The Jessica Rabbit, while adorable resident dog Florence watched over the proceedings. Each of us was dressed in a heated pool, drinking and getting along like we’d known each other for years.
The initial inhibitions and awkwardness were replaced by new friendships and a genuine feeling that we were on a Mediterranean island in temperatures in the mid 30’s – as opposed to a brand new hotel 18km from Belfast city centre, where the outside temperature was lower than that of the teenagers.
It was utter bliss, and it didn’t take long for Sarah to join in the party spirit. So much so that we lost track of time and nearly missed our dinner reservation, which wasn’t helped by the fact that, as we were quickly changing into our beautiful room, we knocked on the door by offering us a free cocktail before our meal.
Trust me, we didn’t need another cocktail. But since we were on vacation, away from our children (whom we love very much, by the way), we happily accepted the well-dressed gentleman’s offer. It was just another little touch that made this hotel so special.
As we sat down to dinner (we were only 10 minutes late at the end) all we could see were familiar faces from the pool party, all with complimentary Jessica Rabbit cocktails in front of them.
The winks, fists, and glances heard between us were all a far cry from the romantic, private getaway we had planned. But no one complained.
Everyone, including all the couples we had befriended in the pool, a bunch of “old oldies” (Sarah’s words, not mine) and a multi-generational 50th birthday party meant the restaurant also buzzed.
Temperatures continued to rise thanks to delicious salt and chilli chicken starters and sriracha chicken wings, before we were treated to succulent steaks and house wines.
Our pool buddies Amy and Ryan, who were sitting in a completely different part of the restaurant, then sent us two more Jessica Rabbits, which we took as a secret code to join them at the bar, where there was music playing. live.
The madness of the day couldn’t have been further from the night before on the trip, when we went even further north and stayed at the already established award-winning Galgorm Spa and Resort.
The sprawling location is no secret to anyone who likes to indulge in absolute luxury in a sumptuous five-star setting.
But what many people may not know is that there is now another accommodation option on the vast grounds, called Shepherd’s Huts.
A dozen gorgeous, totally private cabanas dotted around adjoining grounds are the hotel’s final “wow” factor. Each is angled in such a way that you feel completely cut off from the hustle and bustle of the main hotel in complete privacy, yet it is only a five minute walk away.
We were pleasantly surprised at how well equipped the cabanas were, with lots of modern amenities such as Dyson hairdryers, digital sound systems, welcome treats, an outdoor bath on the large balcony and a fully equipped kitchenette. functional that would literally allow you to lock the door behind you and not go out for days.
Our short stay, however, forced us to leave, but when you walk to the main hotel to sit in Gillies restaurant, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
There is no overdone pomp in the place. You instantly feel like you’re somewhere special, but you never get impostor syndrome. A crackling fire kept us all warm as we enjoyed an incredible three course meal.
The whimsical looking wine cellar that greets you as you descend the stairs to the bathrooms was not exploited with our less than brave ‘usual’ red order, but knowing that this sight is there only makes adding to the exclusive feel of this beach resort.
The food was as expected: we devoured a braised beef blade and Irish piri-piri mussels. But a special mention should be given to the bang bang chicken starter – I would drive there right now from my home in Dublin just to taste it again.
Feeling drunk after our meal and considering we had had a long drive that afternoon, we decided to pull out of the bar that night and took a free ride to one of the brand defenders from the hotel to take us back to the shepherd’s huts.
The next morning we trudged off for breakfast, before heading to the spa for the afternoon.
Knowing full well that Sarah had booked a massage at Le Lapin, we decided to indulge in only one of their less demanding treatments. At least we thought it would be less demanding.
But as soon as the wonderfully mustachioed sauna master Pavel walked us through the Celtic sauna infusion experience and explained how the next 25 minutes would unfold, we knew we were in for a treat.
Imagine a really REALLY hot sauna with three different aromas wafting through as you watch the Maine River while deeply emotional music is channeled through the room and Pavel swirls his towel in the air to circulate the heat.
Even regular handfuls of crushed ice weren’t enough to bring our temperatures down for long, so as soon as the third aroma was over, he lined us up at the resort’s plunge pool, where he politely suggested we take a dip. . It was pure bliss.
Of course, he still had time to take a dip in various hot tubs and pools dotted around the resort before heading to The Rabbit.
They may have the same owner, neither is very kid-oriented (I say that as a positive) and there are similar styling touches throughout to make sure you stay in the same place. one of their hotels, but there’s no denying that there are two very different vibes at The Galgorm and The Rabbit.
The sheer indulgence of the spa in the established venue is so different from the craic of the beginner’s outdoor pool party vibe.
They are both spectacular and left us planning back and forth. We can even ask Santy for help with this…or at least babysitting vouchers.
THE RABBIT HOTEL AND GALGORM RESORT
See rabbithotel.com and galgorm.com
■ THE Rabbit is currently offering many great Christmas packages. The pick of the bunch is their mid-week “Festive Getaway” offer.
For €160 per person, you get one night’s accommodation, a three-course seasonal dinner, use of the spa from check-in to check-out, a duo clay ritual spa treatment and a full Irish breakfast. For more information, see rabbithotel.com/christmas-2022.html.