Fodor's Expert Review Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort

136 Fenaghy Rd., 40 km (25 miles) east of Larne on A36, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, BT42 1EA, Northern Ireland Fodor's Choice

The original Italianate house dates from the 1850s, but the completion of a £10 million renovation pushed this manor house resort into the premier league. The swish deluxe rooms and suites come in warm tones with king-size beds, leather Rolf Benz seating, soft lighting, and balconies. In the 160 acres of estate grounds you may practice archery, and shoot clay pigeons. Full privileges at an 18-hole golf course, a mere five minutes from the hotel, is an added treat. The River Maine (good for brown trout) flows within view of many of the large rooms, and you can ask for a day permit to fish on-site. The notable gin and cocktail library bar boasts several hundred varieties of "mother's ruin," and at 6:30 pm each day there's a 45-minute tasting with three gin cocktails for £25. For those drinkers not content with the gin selection, the hotel opened a new whiskey bar in 2019—McKendry's lounge bar boasts an encyclopaedic collection of more than 300 varieties of whiskey from 21 countries, along with some toe-tapping Irish traditional music on Tuesday and Thursday evening. Dining options include traditional Irish and the Fratelli Italian Ristorante or the newly opened Castle Kitchen, a barbecue smokehouse serving lunch and dinner with a wraparound horseshoe bar. Try the Hammered Heron, which is a crisp, light-tasting lager made by the resort's own microbrewery. A spa contains 12 treatment rooms, five climate rooms, heated loungers, and an outdoor hot tub and Jacuzzi pool. On the grounds, a thunderous foaming waterfall creates a natural ambience, while ancient multilimbed trees, a pergola with climbing clematis, ornamental urns, and fragrant gardens with mature plants complete the serene scene. Galgorm is a springboard for exploring the nearby Dark Hedges road famed for its appearance in the Game of Thrones TV series, as well as the coast, glens, and the attractions of Belfast.

PROS

  • an elegant mix of the cozy and luxurious
  • perfect place for pampering
  • herb caldarium spa awakens your aromatic senses
  • an elegant mix of cozy and luxurious
  • access to sports, fishing, and golf
  • relaxing spa

CONS

  • if not a golfer
  • swimmer
  • or spa fan
  • there's not a lot to do apart from relaxing
  • hovers on the edge of remoteness and a long walk to shops
  • if not a golfer, swimmer, or spa fan, there's not a lot to do apart from relaxing
  • hovers on the edge of remoteness and a long walk to shops
  • if not a golfer, swimmer, or spa fan, there's not a lot to do in the immediate area
  • somewhat remote and a long walk to shops
  • pricey food and beverages

QUICK FACTS

Resort
Historical
Intimate
Countryside
$$$$

HOTEL INFO

Phones: 028-2588–1001

HOTEL DETAILS

123 rooms, 6 riverside cottages, 6 fishermen\'s cottages, 6 log cabins
Rate Includes: Free breakfast

What’s Nearby