Galgorm Resort and Spa is just over half an hour from Belfast and is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Situated by the gorgeous river Maine, and set within 163 acres of lush parkland it’s billed as Northern Ireland’s premier luxury hotel and spa. You will most certainly be greeted with a warm welcome and attentive service, it’s a big property with a big heart and passionate staff. It’s recent expansion and the launch of the Thermal Village has added an additional 48 guest rooms but at no point do you feel crowded or over run with people. Three restaurants and two bars (including a gin and champagne bar) means there are plenty of options for dining and drinking. The River Room offers a classy menu with refined service, Gillies has more hearty fare and Fratelli Restaurante has an Italian menu featuring pasta and pizza. Countryside walks or day trips to the north coast are within easy reach or you could simply lounge in the spa day in day out. It really is that good. It’s a big resort that is welcoming and friendly and has some great rooms, especially above the Thermal Village. My tip is to book one overlooking the river in the new thermal Village.
The spa was so popular that the team had no option but to expand. The result is a new wing featuring indoor pool, sauna and snow cave plus cafe and relaxation room. This alone is more than most spas have, but outside the spa also boasts large Beltane hot tub, large sauna overlooking the river, a large steam room with a small viewing window outside and the river house, which doubles as relax space, yoga studio and exercise class studio. My favourite were the wood fired hot tubs by the river which you hire by the hour for cosy couple time. The Thermal Village offers authentic experiences that are well imagined and free for hotel guests to use at their leisure.
In the original part of the spa at Galgorm Resort and Spa there are seven treatment rooms, relax lounge, group spa area, outdoor hot tub, and jacuzzi which lead into the indoor thermal suite with laconicum, sanarioum aroma grotto and indoor pool with water jets and hydro therapy. It’s a massive operation and offer so many things to do. You almost forget it’s mid-winter as you transfer from hot sauna to hot tub. Well designed and perfectly executed, the river side positioning of the Thermal Village is inspired. It’s one of the best outdoor spa experiences I’ve had in the UK and rivals many around the world.
Taste of Galgorm
The Taste of Galgorm mixes up some of the very best therapies from VOYA into a seamless signature spa experience. Beginning with pressure point massage, foot cleanse, then a back and shoulder massage, it was thorough and deep and really worked on my knots using a warm organic body oil. Turning over, the treatment continues with a full facial combining cleanse, face massage, mask and application of Laminaria eye compresses which concluded with a final application of moisture creams. I recall there being a head massage too, but think I was drifting in and out of sleep I was so relaxed by that stage. It was an excellent treatment and was thoroughly enjoyed. Post treatment I enjoyed mango sorbet in the relaxation room gazing at the large goldfish in the aquarium swimming around. It was pure heaven.
Celtic Sauna Ritual
The Celtic Sauna Ritual is a group treatment conducted in the riverside sauna offering views across the river. A unique take on the traditional Aufguss treatment (which originated in Finland) the team at Galgorm have created their own version and given it an Irish twist. Set to a soundtrack of stirring Celtic music, the sauna master combines sweeping towel movements to swirl the air around the sauna, forcing hot air over the group. Essences of pine, mandarin and sage are poured over the hot coals and infused through the sauna, again using the sweeping towel movements. It might not be for everyone, but I loved it. The group then moved to the river house and were led through a guided mediation to bring the body temperature back to normal and induce total relaxation. It was a unique treatment and one I would love to experience again.
THE BEST BITS AT GALGORM RESORT AND SPA
The Celtic Sauna Ritual
The Taste of Galgorm treatment by VOYA
Dining in the River Room
Enjoying the private hot tub experience by the river
The views from the riverside sauna
Getting away from it all in the countryside of Northern Ireland.
ROOM TO IMPROVE
Keeping a note of noise levels around the treatment rooms. It got very noisy in the corridor during my treatment. It might be worth keeping a check on how many robes are offered, I had four in one afternoon.
Double room B&B at Galgorm Resort and Spa from £165
Celtic Sauna Ritual – £15 per person
Taste of Galgorm
£125 – Mon-thurs
£140 Fri – Sun