Your Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wedding - August/September 2023 (Issue 102)

BOOK IT! Galgorm, 136 Fenaghy Road, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, BT42 1EA 028 2588 1001 time for me to reluctantly head back to the hut to get ready for dinner. I procrastinated all the way though, stopping en route for one last visit to my beloved River House (with its infared beds and views of the cascading River), a hot chocolate enjoyed on the riverside boardwalk, and a spell in The Alpine Garden’s vitality pool. HEARTY FARE The foodies amongst you will be equally as delighted by Galgorm as the spa aficionados since there are no fewer than three restaurants to choose from for dinner: Fratelli Ristorante, Gillies Grill and Castle Kitchen + Bar (the latter just a short transfer away). That’s not even counting the other options for afternoon tea in The Conservatory, where you can also find the Cocktail Bar & Gin Library, and McKendry’s, all up at the main house. This was my first visit to Northern Ireland and I found the people to be some of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered while travelling. We honestly felt like we were among friends, and the staff at Galgorm can’t do enough for their guests. We didn’t have to make the walk from our shepherd’s hut to Gillies Grill once as we simply dialled reception and a short while later a thoroughly charming member of staff would be there to collect us, which was most appreciated, particularly when it rained. Gillies Grill is reportedly a favourite amongst guests and locals alike, and it’s not difficult to see why. With a warm informal atmosphere, and hunting lodge vibes, it offers a menu sure to delight any palate. Interestingly, the menus for all of the eateries at the Resort are accessed via QR code, so you can peruse at leisure on your phone. No doubt developed during the pandemic, it helps to keep everyone safe, but is also kind to the environment cutting down on paper. I opted for the barbecue pork bites, followed by the braised brisket of beef for main, finished off with a selection of delicious Irish cheeses. After thanking our super-sweet and helpful server, we made our way through to the adjoining McKendry’s. With a traditional Irish pub vibe, it’s also the Resort’s exclusive whiskey bar, offering an impressive collection of 300plus varieties from more than 21 countries. Here, we happily let our dinner go down while sipping on another cocktail and listening to the live music. When it comes to culinary highlights, for me, it was breakfast. I’ll admit to being like a kid in a sweetshop! The spread was a joyous sight to behold with everything you could possibly dream of for the most important meal of the day from muffins and pastries; fish, cold meats and cheeses; cereals and fruit; to pancakes, full Irish breakfast, waffles and toast. Self control was most definitely needed! HOME AWAY FROM HOME Opened as a bed and breakfast more than 30 years ago, Galgorm has grown into the immense site it is today with 125 luxurious guestrooms, including 48 deluxe rooms, Junior and Signature suites, along with a range of more out-of-the-ordinary accommodation such as log cabins, cottage suites, shepherd’s huts and exclusive residences perfect for groups. But it hasn’t stopped there as it’s still growing with works currently underway and more in the pipeline. Even as I visited, work on a group of two storey cottages was nearing completion and land was about to be cleared for the new treehouse accommodation. I was happily ensconced in one of the Resort’s shepherd’s huts during my stay. Welcomed by an electric woodburner cosily heating this home away from home, we quickly discovered all the comforts we could wish for were provided. I was obsessed with the huge outdoor copper bath, which I made a dive for as soon as I’d dumped my bags. The complimentary G&T and bath bomb, were much appreciated additions following the aforementioned airport hell. For honeymooners though, there are two particular showstoppers that I would highly recommend! If you’re looking for ultimate luxury, Suite 1857 can be found in the original manor house and offers unrivalled views of the River from its Juliet balcony. Elegant and romantic, its rooms are decorated in brocade wall coverings in a muted palette, antique lighting, and French Baroque-style furniture, with solid oak floors and beams. It features a lounge area with sofa and two arm chairs for curling up in front of the TV, plus bathroom with free-standing bath and walk-in shower. If a secluded, rustic, woodland escape is more your vibe the Shepherd’s Hut Suite is the place for you. Nestled in Galgorm Wood with the cascading River running alongside it, it’s luxuriously appointed with a lounge, mini kitchen, and bathroom with shower room and free-standing bath. But the stand-out features, without doubt, are your very own sauna and hot tub on the terrace. Enjoy a soak in the warm waters as you watch the sun set and raise a glass to yourselves, the newlyweds. HONEYMOON REVIEW 91