YOU don’t have to look very hard to find a reason to visit Galway.
This charming city in the west of Ireland remains the cultural capital of the nation - with a bulging events calendar boasting something for all every night of the week.
From live Irish music and comedy nights to poetry readings and all manner of festivals, the city oozes enjoyable, life-enriching activities, meaning whatever entertainment or escape you are after you’ll find it there, somewhere.
Add to that the cobbled streets, historic buildings, boutique shopping, great food and even better Guinness, and you pretty much have a city that can’t be beaten in terms of desirable holiday destination.
But there is so much more to it than that.
For me, to visit Galway is to spark a lifelong connection to a city unlike any other.
Galway has long been a favourite haunt for Irish people and tourists alike, but year on year it retains that popularity and its ability to draw visitors old and new to its shores.
That can’t be easy, but it certainly helps that this is a city that somehow manages to continually reinvent itself.
On the many trips I have taken there I always find something new to rave about or some hidden gem that I had yet to uncover.
And then there are the people. Galwegians are some of the most welcoming people you will find in Ireland.
Full of great craic and even better stories, they brim with pride in their city and the county it lies within.
And you don’t have to just take my word for it – in 2021 readers of the the international travel magazine Condé Nast voted Galway the friendliest city in Europe, and not for the first time.
That is just one of many awards and accolades that have been assigned to Galway over the years.
The city is regularly recognised on the international stage for everything from its culture scene and local heritage preservation to its eco-friendly ideals and its welcoming nature.
Known as the ‘City of the Tribes’, historically Galway was home to 14 merchant families – or tribes as they were known - who prospered from trade with continental Europe.
Those tribes are now long gone, of course, but the city – which is one of the oldest and largest in Ireland - has retained its nickname and is still full of ‘tribesmen’.
From its multitude of university students and its constant steam of tourists to the proud Galwegians who have called the county home for generations, there is a crowd for everyone here.
And playing host to such tourists and short-stay visitors for so many years has made Galway a multicultural Irish city like no other.
It is a city where old meets new on a daily basis and the landscape becomes all the more sweeter for it.
Both historic and modern, traditional and cutting edge, proud of its heritage but keen to evolve, Galway is full of opportunity and possibility for anyone visiting. And that is something that I love about it.
So, on my most recent visit I was excited and yet unsurprised to learn that a new hotel – which has opened post-pandemic – brings an entirely new offering to a city which has hosted the visiting masses for many many moons.
Nestled in amidst the historic streets of Bohermore, just a stone's throw from the city's busy Eyre Square, is a luxurious new boutique accommodation offering, which looks as if it has been there forever but is in fact cleverly designed so that its limestone exterior fits in perfectly with its Prospect Hill location.
It’s little over a year since The Dean hotel opened in January 2022.
It’s the third instalment by the Press Up hotel group, which also has sister hotels located in Dublin and Cork, which opened in 2014 and 2020 respectively.
And upon entering this unassumingly chic building it is clear that you have reached new heights on the Galway hotel scene.
Well, actually the feeling is there from the lobby, but it’s not until you take the lift to the top floor that you really see the heights The Dean has taken Galway to.
Perfectly positioned at the top of the hotel is Sophie’s – the hotel’s classy rooftop restaurant, which offers stunning views of Galway city.
On a clear day you can see as far as the Burren in the neighbouring County Clare, but there is plenty to be said of the view of the city itself – with the perfectly pitched location offering a 360-degree perspective of town that you simply cannot find in any other Galway restaurant.
There is also a spacious terrace seating area so you can soak up that view whilst you take your breakfast, lunch or dinner al fresco, if the weather allows - another unique offering not widely found in the city.
But there is absolutely no need to brave the elements if you don’t want to, as the restaurant is windowed from end to end, meaning you can savour the sights from wherever you are perched inside.
And there is plenty to savour in there too.
The sumptuous art deco style décor of the restaurant and bar is an extension of what is to be found throughout the hotel.
Think leather benches in cosy booths, gold-gilded barstools with floral decor and a glittering u-shaped bar boasting pink tiles and every possible glass and bottle you can imagine, and you are starting to get a picture of the effortlessly plush yet comfortable Sophie’s setting.
The food is great too – from breakfast through to dinner we were continually impressed.
Whether enjoying eggs benedict, with succulent Irish glazed ham, or pan-fried hake, served with Jerusalem artichoke, every dish was flavourful and cooked to perfection.
From the food to the décor, cocktails and even the leisure facilities, there is a very clear sense of attention to detail throughout The Dean.
The hotel rooms, for example, boast all the required elements. There’s a bed, bathroom, hairdryer, towels, etc.
But they feel like something extra special by way of a few small additions and the eclectic, fun and mismatched décor and furnishing that surrounds you.
Notably, the addition of a ‘Munchies’ wall and a drinks shelf – the Dean’s funky version of a mini-bar – which were both full of our favourite drinks and nibbles when we arrived, was a pretty special touch.
Oh, and there was also a working record player in there too, with vinyl, just waiting for us to give it a spin.
Another surprise came when we ventured into the gym.
Now this is part of the hotel’s leisure offering, but is open to membership by locals, who have lapped up the opportunity.
We quickly found out why, as The Dean’s Power Gym is not your average gym.
No this is as boutique as the hotel it finds itself within, with mounds of space, an impressive amount of equipment and even its very own boxing tunnel – a true hidden gem in the heart of Galway.
It was a bustling hive of activity on both occasions that we headed in for a workout, which was absolutely no surprise to us.
It also boasts a sauna, steam room and an outdoor hydrotherapy pool - which is decorated with flamingos and boasts a ‘press for champagne’ button. Need I say more.
It’s nuggets such as this which are the beauty of The Dean.
Lots of little things, nods to the attention, detail and thought put into each and every segment of this hotel, are what makes it so special.
It feels like something shiny and new, but also like home.
It feels like being somewhere fancy while wearing your favourite, cosiest slippers – which is a bit like being in Galway itself, really.
As new finds in this city go, this is one of the best. So if you’re after a decent slice of luxury, some hearty cuisine – or a high-end workout – The Dean is a must-visit on your next trip to Galway.
For information or bookings at The Dean hotel in Galway click here