13 May 2010
The G Hotel, Galway
Eamon Barrett's report on Galway's The G Hotel is worrying reading. The G is quintessential example of a “Builder's Hotel”, developed by Gerry Barrett, a man with multiple business interests, and a number of other hotels in his portfolio.
But, The G promised so much, and initially delivered, thanks to stunning style and sharp service.
A few years down the line, however, and the errors that Eamon recounts are all primary, basic matters: they are not supposed to happen in a top class establishment...
Thankfully, work has been fairly hectic for us now for quite a while but you know what they say about all work and no play..... So we decided it was time for some chill out indulgence and I've wanted to stay at The G Hotel since I saw the first pictures of Philip Treacys outlandish design influence. It is a little strange to drive through the retail park to get to the car park but once the lift opens facing the silver lounge you are well and truly transported to another world. Check in was stiff and not exactly warm and there was an unusual insistence that both of us sign the registration, which I haven't come across before. We had treated ourselves to a top end room and I was surprised to see that this room - though absolutely excellent in every other way - faced onto the retail car park instead of the lake at the front. I was also surprised at this level that the mini bar had to be requested to be filled. Nonetheless, the welcoming cupcakes with silver icing was a lovely touch.
Hungry after the long drive from Waterford we moved to the stunning pink lounge for some food and waited for someone to serve us. And waited. There were plenty of staff - the hotel was busy - they just kept passing us by with their eyes fixed straight ahead. Eventually, some twenty minutes after sitting down, we managed to crane our necks enough to make ourselves look positively alien and thus attract the attention of a passing waiter. I went for the homemade burger and chips and J went for the plate of local cheese and charcuterie with warm breads. The food arrived reasonably quickly and as soon as my burger was laid down I asked for some ketchup. Julies plate of cheese and charcuterie was exceptionally weak and the promised warm breads never arrived. Just like the ketchup. Another twenty minute interval became too much for me and I left my seat and pleaded with a member of staff to see if some ketchup could be retrieved. It arrived shortly afterwards with a curt apology. When a passing manager inquired if everything was alright I quietly told him that service had been abysmal - not something I would normally do but we had driven three and a half hours to stay in this place for Gods sake! To be fair he was much more apologetic and did look after us for the rest of our stay in the lounge.
Things didn't get much better at dinner. There was no one to greet us, leaving us standing at the entrance to the restaurant like lost souls. When someone did arrive and we explained we had a booking for two we were asked 'Is this part of your package?' which didn't add any sense of 5 star ambiance to the occasion. Shouldn't their software tell them we weren't on a package?
We were shown to a truly horrible table in the centre of the room which would have left the two of us facing straight ahead and away from each other. A request for a table against the wall was not automatically granted but the fact that we remained standing obviously got the message across and we were shown to an alternative table. The shining star of our visit was the lovely Pedro who looked after us for the evening and had a gentle and professional manner that meant we felt totally relaxed. I didn't make notes on the dinner but it amounted to not much more than decent hotel food- a lobster ravioli for me was ruined by a heavy meat based sauce. The bar afterwards produced some excellent cocktails and the best mojito I've had since 33 The Mall closed.
We relaxed with breakfast in the room the next morning, no element of which caused me to change my mind about the hotel. Checkout was a little better than check in but lacked any real warmth.
There's no denying the magnificent gayness of the hotels design, it really is beautiful. But the critical element of deferential and professional service was sadly absent not to mention the slightest hint of friendliness or care for the guest. Very much, 'look at our lovely cushions, aren't we amazing'.
In fact, if anything, the G has merely served to place the achievement of Cliff House into greater context, where a stunning building has been matched by a warmth of service and a professionalism of operation that makes you forget where you are. Isn't that what we all want? To escape the humdrum and to live the fantasy of luxury for just one little day? Has no one at the G heard of 'fur coat, no knickers'?