Galway is a brilliant destination for a family weekend away, the city itself is compact making it easy to get around, there’s plenty to do and explore and there’s even a seaside resort in the suburbs. The vibe around town is friendly and there are dozens of family-friendly places to eat and drink. Sure, what more could you ask for?
Family hotels in Galway for a fun-filled break in the west
A family hotel in Galway where the kids are treated like VIPs
We stayed at The Connacht a few years ago and it’s the one hotel that my kids ask to return to, the one they compare all other hotels against, and it’s a high standard to meet. What did they love so much about it? From the moment we checked in staff took an interest in them, gave them colouring packs, asked their names and generally made them feel really welcome. Like all kids, mine love a hotel with a pool and we spent ages swimming and splashing. (There’s a gym adjoining it too if you’re feeling energetic). The Kids’ Club exceeded their expectations with both a younger and older kids’ area and air hockey tables that they kept going back to. We were ditched in the evenings in favour of Kids’ Club movies which meant we got to have a quiet drink in the bar before collecting them. It worked for everyone.
For the adults the easiness of it all won us over. The Connacht does family suites which have two bedrooms with a living room and kitchen between them, perfect to chill with a bottle of wine when the kids have gone to sleep rather than lying in the dark whispering at each other willing them to settle. There’s even a kitchenette which is ideal for those with younger kids, or kids with special dietary needs that might need access to kitchen facilities.
All this put together makes The Connacht our favourite family accommodation that we have ever stayed in, bar none.
A family hotel in Galway with kiddie movie nights
The Clayton is on the outskirts of town away from the crowds and easily accessible by car. Its Kids’ Club will have the kids begging to come back, with organised games, arts and crafts, movie nights and even Wii challenges to keep them busy.
There’s a Leisure Centre where you can all partake in the essential family weekend away swimming session (and that fun game of where are all the swimming hats I’m sure I packed them!) or where the adults can take time to unwind in the gym, sauna and steam room.
The family rooms are a generous size, and for bigger families or families with older kids interconnecting rooms are also available to give everyone some space.
A family hotel in Galway with a kids dinner club
The Maldron Sandy Road is fifteen minutes’ walk from Eyre Square, away from the busy-ness but easily accessible. It bills itself as a child-friendly hotel, and it’s well-founded with welcome gifts including games and puzzles for the kids on arrival to keep them busy. Accommodation-wise there’s a variety of family room combinations in newly refurbished rooms, that are brightly decorated.
The Crafty Kids’ Club in the hotel operates at weekends and in school holidays at an extra charge. They even offer a dinner club for children aged 5 to 12 years from 5.30pm, so you and your other half can have a meal together without the younger members of the family. Kids Club lasts until 10pm so there’s plenty of time for adult conversation over a drink in the newly refurbished Grain and Grill bar before putting the little ones to bed.
A family hotel in Galway close to the sea
If you want some sea air and possibly even a sea view, the Galway Bay Hotel is a great option for your family break in Galway. Set on the seafront in Salthill the very impressive looking hotel has great facilities for families and the sea on its doorstep. It’s the perfect position for a wander in the morning to build sandcastles or collect shells. The Atlantiquarium is just a stroll down the prom as are the cafes and amusements of Salthill.
The hotel runs the award-winning Penguins Camp during school holidays where kids aged 4-12 can enjoy games and activities and a supervised lunch and dinner. The youngest guests, so often overlooked by hotels, are also well catered for with the Tiny Tots playroom available for parents and little ones to enjoy together. With a child-free dinner time the adults have a choice of dining options, with the Atlantic Bar offering a gastro-pub menu including fantastic “Wine and Dine Boards” pairing platters of local produce with wines and the Bay Brasserie serving top notch local produce in a more formal setting with a gorgeous view of the bay.
The family accommodation in the Galway Bay Hotel is versatile, with family rooms, two bedroom family suites and interconnecting rooms all available, so it’s a good option for larger families.
A family hotel in Galway with its very own fairy garden
On the Salthill side of town, the Ardilaun Hotel has unique feature that you won’t see in many hotels – its very own fairy garden in the grounds! All children who stay in the hotel can follow the fairy trail around the hotel grounds with a special map and find the ten fairies who live in the fairy garden.
The Ardilaun has the more run-of-the-mill family-friendly facilities too, including the Koala Kids Club to keep the kids busy with activities. The Koala Kids Club operates in the Leisure Club during school holidays and caters for children from four to 12 years. Activities offered by the Kids Club include swimming, ball games, face painting and lots more. Adults can enjoy the gym or pool facilities while the children are at the club, have a treatment in the hotel beauty salon or simply relax in the spacious Garden Lounge over Afternoon Tea.
Family accommodation options are impressive, ranging from standard family rooms (which can sleep up to five) and interconnecting rooms to family suites with separate sleeping areas for the adults and kids, to give everyone some space.
Last but not least- if you’re in Galway for a family break don’t miss:
The city centre is compact and yet a stroll down Shop Street can take an age as you browse the shops and stop every few feet to watch the various street performances. On our most recent visit my sons were blown away by the limbo troupe’s antics and left speechless by a fire thrower. (Don’t try this at home kids!). The whole street leading down to the Quays is lined with buskers and artists vying to get your attention with eye-catching tricks and turns.
The Arts scene is alive in Galway and there’s always family-friendly activities on, whether it’s the Oyster Festival in September, the Baboró International Children’s Arts Festival in October or the Macnas Halloween parade.
When visiting Galway, (even in the height of summer!) be prepared to get wet but pack properly and you won’t let the weather get in the way of your exploring. A visit to the Atlantaquarium in Salthill is a good backup for the inevitable rain, and is a good way to spend about an hour. Make sure to time your visit around one of the fish feeding times and save up all your little ones’ hard fish-related questions to put to the experts.
It’s not a trip to Galway without a walk on Salthill prom, or if the little legs can’t hack the distance bring the scooters and chase after them, and remember you can’t turn around until you’ve kicked the wall. After the bracing walk soaking up the view and nodding to those walking in the opposite direction, treat yourself to a coffee and something home-baked in Ground & Co next to the aquarium, or if the small people have you up very early they do a mean brunch too.
Our last family weekend in Galway happily coincided with the Christmas markets, when Galway comes alive with a Christmas village, a ferris wheel in Eyre Square and an all round Christmassy feel. A hot chocolate all fresco served from a wood hut is all you need to get you in a festive mood!
Sinéad Fox is a mother of three who loves travelling and discovering new places. She has lived and worked in Paris and New York but has settled near the beach on Ireland’s East coast not too far from where she grew up. She writes at bumblesofrice.com