Hotel review

Hotel Dean Galway review – a buzzing and beautiful fit for Galway

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There are now three Dean Hotels in Ireland and like all good product upgrades they have set a pattern, replicated what works and innovated a bit more with each new release.

Following sister hotels in Dublin (2014) and Cork (2020), The Dean in Galway is a 101-bed addition to Prospect Hill. You’ll recognize Sophie’s rooftop restaurant (with views as far as the Burren), tons of reclaimed wood, punchy Irish art, and the neon scribble above reception (“Ooh la la” reads this one). ci by Irish artist Domino Whisker).

It’s design-driven, sprinkled with mischief and underpinned by a laser-like focus on what customers want – from lobby charging points and barista coffee to Dyson hairdryers in the gym, separate elevator lobbies from hallways to rooms through keyed doors and sassy cocktails (‘Giving Shade’, ‘Tis Yeah!’; €13).

To this model, the Galway getaway adds a small but brilliant outdoor hydrotherapy pool – with murals of flamingos and a golden bell for ordering drinks – the West’s first Elephant & Castle restaurant and a studio of boxing located in a section of the old Galway- railway tunnel at Clifden.

“We don’t do conventions,” he says. “We are having fun.”

Arrival & location

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Reception at The Dean, Galway

Reception at The Dean, Galway

Galway’s Dean is a short walk from Eyre Square, its limestone facade alternating bush-hammered and sandblasted finishes to evoke the lights and shades of the West. It’s a head-turning, if slightly awkward, addition to a mostly residential area (when I photograph the pool from an upper floor, a lady tends to her garden just above the wall).

Inside, the lobby is a cramped, glitzy space with dim lighting and garish features that can give you seconds to get your bearings. There’s a Dime Coffee counter, a small scalloped reception desk with a pair of iMacs and shelves of merch (think hats from €15 or hoodies from €40), and doors leading at Peg’s Bar and Elephant & Castle.

Everything is beautiful and buzzing. Whether dolled up at night or lying with luggage under his eyes the next morning, this little crossroads clicks. 7.5/10

Service & styling

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A shelf


A “Munchies” shelf in one of the dean’s suites…

A “Munchies” shelf in one of the dean’s suites…

I always leave Press Up hotels with interior ideas (even if they are never realized at home). The eclectic approach can be hard to take in, but the shift is carefully curated and the elements – whether it’s the 350 artworks, the gleaming bathroom tiles or the checkerboard finish of the exterior rear – tend to appeal to you both conceptually and individually.

The Peg’s Bar is a reboot of the Hogan pub, reopening with new Liscannor stone flooring, a lowered timber ceiling and nostalgic photos of Galway. Downstairs, Power gym infuses its high-tech treadmills, weights, classes and boxing studio with splashes of natural light and greenery. It’s “closer to what you’d find in New York or London,” says Press Up fitness manager Ben Leonard-Kane.

Through it all, the service is laid back but well drilled, from the servers who know their menus to the hip receptionists (even the manager wears jeans and sneakers). 8/10

The rooms

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A ModPod room at the Dean


A ModPod room at the Dean

A ModPod room at the Dean

Rooms range from 12.6m² ModPods to larger double rooms and suites with lounging areas. Against a backdrop of salmon or teal wainscoting, expect comfy beds, rainforest showers and effervescent design touches — from the Marshall mini amps to the ‘Irish Munchies Tray’ filled with treats like Tayto and Caffreys Snowballs (€2). There are free condoms and sanitary products, and a sprinkling of Irish craft drinks (Wicklow Wolf beers or Skellig Six 18 gin, for example).

My suite (“The Harry”) adds a free-standing copper tub, thick towels, and rock-solid Wi-Fi. There is also, however, a single small window, which opens directly into several other rooms around a courtyard. Spatial noise from air conditioning is also difficult to eliminate. But overall, these are playful, practical and evocatively lit designs – and ideas increasingly borrowed from elsewhere. 8/10

food drink

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Sophie is at the Dean in Galway


Sophie is at the Dean in Galway

Sophie is at the Dean in Galway

Sophie’s rooftop bar and restaurant (watch out for those swings!) brings together a terrace, third-floor views, curvy leather booths, large planters, and botanical prints in a bright social lounge space that feels at home. both expensive and unintimidating…a deadly mix. A bright pink-tiled U-shaped bar anchors it all, and well-rounded menus offer steaks, fish, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and cocktails.

A grilled hake fillet isn’t bad (€26.50) — a juicy piece that’s both delicate and comforting, served with potatoes, chorizo, buttered greens and a “bitter vermouth sauce with chives which I generously love.

The other dishes range from pumpkin and leek risotto (€19) to sirloin (€40). A starter of pan-fried scallops with oyster mushrooms and smoked bacon (€14.50) is less good; his mashed cauliflower seems too milky to me, and the scallops are a little out of temperature. But the table is roundly happy.

Elephant & Castle is the other option (don’t miss the chicken wings), with breakfast at Sophie’s. Here is a short à la carte menu, on which I order fresh fruit juices, a well-presented plate of granola, yoghurt and honey (€7.95) and eggs Benedict (€13.95) – it’s quite simple , with a leaven that requires sawing. The views shine, however. 7/10

The bottom line

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The Power Gym boxing studio


The Power Gym boxing studio

The Power Gym boxing studio

Plans for the Dean brand now include Birmingham. It’s easy to argue that Press Up Group hotels are the same, their financial muscle and model-driven approach crowding out other independent prospects. But hotels are also good at what they do, punters vote with their feet and they forced their Irish peers to up their game. They had a Hoxton- or Ace-sized influence on this island.

Insider tips

A few spaces for electric and disabled vehicles are the only parking on site. Fairgreen Road City Park (with a daily fee of €12) is a five-minute walk away.

The Galway Christmas Market runs from November 16 to December 22. A Dean package includes B&B, cocktail and dinner from €149 per person, based on two sharing.

Rates

Single room rates from €155, with a winter cocktail included. Pól was a hotel guest. thedean.ie

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