"Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For The View From This Galway Hotel"
It's a long auld drive to Clifden from Dublin. As an outsider, it's hard to fathom the sheer vastness of Co. Galway until you undertake that second leg from the city to the depths of Connemara.
Needless to say, upon arrival you want nothing more than to stretch the legs out and a little bit of luxury certainly wouldn't go astray. That's what I found at the Abbeyglen Hotel at the top of Clifden's Sky Road, an address that's sure to spark wonder in the minds of any younger travel companions.
Arriving in the car park, I felt like I'd entered another world as the never-ending hills of Connemara rolled out in front of me. That's before I even darkened the doors of the hotel itself.
It was about 5pm on a Wednesday evening when I checked in. A warm fire greeted me in the lobby before I was shown to my room where I took the opportunity to take a quick rest.
I wasn't lying down for long before the hotel phone rang and I was invited downstairs for a champagne reception. Well, I wasn't going to say no to that.
Chatting to a few other guests, I learned that many of them were return visitors and when you look around the interior it's easy to why. Visitors are encouraged to mingle over a drink which is great for those travelling solo. It's easy to get bored when you're away for a day or two on your own so the opportunity to hear everyone else's story is always welcome.
With the late evening sun still beating down outside, I headed to the bar's outdoor area to see what it had to offer. I knew the views were good from the car park but nothing prepared me for this one.
The Twelve Bens Mountains dominate the landscape and you could really spend all day just staring off into the distance. The monotony of everyday life seems a long way away when the soft Connemara breeze is touching your face as you sip a cold beer.
I wasn't really staying long enough to sample all of the Abbeyglen's amenities but from reading the hotel booklet, there is definitely no shortage of things to do. The hotel boasts a wellness and relaxation centre as well as a private tennis court, walking routes and a nearby golf course.
For those who just fancy a bit of downtime though, there are a couple of cosy reading rooms where you can get stuck into that book you've been meaning to finish.
The bar in the Abbeyglen is well-known in the area for its late night sing-songs over the piano. Luckily I got to sample this as guests gathered together for a bit of entertainment before bed.
I can certainly see why people return time and again and while it's a little on the pricey side, it's an ideal spot to treat a loved one as a birthday or anniversary gift.
The Abbeyglen boasts beautiful, spacious rooms with amazing views from the window and while there I learned that it's a favourite of Ryan Tubridy of The Late Late Show.
If it's good enough for a man of Tubs' level of sophistication, it's good enough for me. I just wish the drive wasn't as long.