Monday, February 24, 2014

Our Visit to The Clayton Hotel

Christmas seems like a distant memory and Mum and Dad were itching to get away for a couple of days – the school mid-term presented perhaps both a challenge and an opportunity!  
We wanted to try to fit in a mini-break but yet hadn’t got sufficient time available for a lot of travel given the mid-term was so short this year. It’s been two years since we ventured west and after a quick check on the web we chose the 4 Star Clayton Hotel, Galway, as our Family Mini-Break destination.
Without hassle we arranged a 2 night stay online which included Bed/Breakfast and 1 evening meal for just €109 per adult – and even included a free family pass to either the Galway Atlantaquaria or a game of bowling for the family at City Limits PLUS Free kids club.
The Family packages are based on 2 Adults and 2 Children sharing - with a camp bed available for additional children as in our case for €20 extra per night.
Day 1 of the mid-term break started normally until the kids heard about our visit to the Clayton Hotel – sometimes, no matter how good the holiday can be – this is the best bit – especially the faces of the younger ones – though parents will fully appreciate why we don’t mention it until the day we are due to leave!
Our journey from Dublin took about 2 hours 15mins, and the road quality is fantastic – making Galway really accessible. As we drove I couldn’t help but reminisce about the hours we spend when we were kids travelling west – we have come a really long way.
Arriving in Ballybrit where The Clayton Hotel is situated – only 8-10 minutes from Galway City – I was pleasantly surprised to find ample free parking over and underground.
The hotel was obviously busy but parking can be a concern for parents with young families and the associated luggage they generate. Being able to get close to the hotel with the vehicle is really important especially from a safety perspective.

Checking in took just a few minutes (while the boys explored the hotel lobby) and included a family pass for the Galway Atlantaquaria which we chose when booking. The hotel also gets special rates for various attractions in the area which is great when you have a family of five – it all helps.
Off we went to find our room which was situated on the 3rd floor – a large and exceptionally bright family room. The room had two fine sized double beds, plus a camp bed which was an immediate source of “debate” between the three boys as to who would get it! The bedroom and huge bathroom were spotless and ample towels were provided for this busy family!
The lovely, modern TV was immediately switched on – giving mum and dad the chance to sort everything out. We also noted there were plenty of electrical sockets in the room which like it or not are pretty handy for recharging the usual array of electronics we have with us these days.
With the kids relaxing we checked out the literature we were given on check-in regarding the facilities for the children which are so important if the break is going to be just that – for everyone. In high season and during school holidays – the kids club will be operating (subject to minimum numbers) and this is always a huge consideration when we book a family break. Worry not – The Clayton Hotel has it covered.
From 10 to 12 and 4 to 6 its Splash Time in the 20m pool – where the whole family get to have fun! While the pool is compact we found it worked well for us as we, Mom and Dad, were able to take turns using the Sauna and Steam Room which face the pool, which is not always that easy. We found the pool nice and warm which makes it really easy to spend a lot of time in it – which with kids is really inevitable! During splash time there are lots of balls and floats available for the children to have fun with – a simple thing that works really well. 
But what about the evening? First things first – we all need to eat and our package included a meal in either Tribes Restaurant or The Enclosure Bistro. We experienced both over the weekend and both were superb. The less formal atmosphere on the bistro was probably best for a young family while Tribes tended to suit us better to enjoy a nice leisurely meal while the kids attended the kids club. Suffice to say that the choice and quality of the food is amazing and Mom was particularly impressed with the inclusion of calorie count on the menu beside the various dishes. Staff were friendly, accommodating and most importantly patient which surely can’t be easy when three hungry boys are trying to order!
You may worry that you might need to rush your meal when you have kids or that you won’t get to enjoy it as much as you would like. I would strongly suggest using the Kids Club at The Clayton Hotel to get the most out of your stay. Kids from 4-12 are welcomed with open arms in the large Kids Club Room from 6.30 to 8.45pm each evening to enjoy organised games, arts and crafts, movie nights, Wii challenges and lots more. Our boys particularly enjoyed the range of board games available, which offer hours of fun, every time! The girls who were looking after them were really friendly and interested in the boys having a good time which is great to see and really instills confidence in parents looking to relax for a little while. Another important facility available is Babysitting - which because of our packed days we didn't use - but it's great to know it was an option if we needed it. Advanced booking recommended though.
Next morning...  Always a favorite when we take a break away is the breakfast – and The Clayton Hotel didn’t disappoint. Again, a lovely selection of food. Hot and cold – with some firm favourite cereals and hot croissants popular at our table. After a hearty breakfast we left for the day’s adventure.
We headed into Salthill first to enjoy a visit to the Galway Atlantaquaria. We had been before when the boys were younger but really enjoyed it the second time too.
Allow plenty of time at least 90 minutes to wander around the various tanks and exhibits to get the most out of it. We loved the “Ray pool” which allows everyone to get up close to real Rays. Try to get there for one of the feeding times as the guys here really allow the children to interact and will gladly answer any questions you or they may have.  

Right outside the Aquarium there is a fine sized playground which the younger boys loved and we spend a few minutes there before taking a walk down the promenade. This was more for Dad than anyone else but everyone else enjoyed it too.

After a quick lunch it was bowling time at City Limits.
The boys had an amazing time bowling and in fact seemed scarily natural at it putting Mum and Dad to shame!
We spent about an hour there when the inevitable chorus of can we go swimming began again.
It had already been a long fun filled day and it was only 3 o’clock so we ventured back to The Clayton and got ready for even more Splash time.
You really can’t go wrong with a holiday in The Clayton Hotel. Based so close to Galway City, Salthill and Oranmore with an the endless amount of attractions locally available.
From Farms to Equestrian Centers, Laser Tag to Corrib Cruises you can access it all.
So if you are looking for a 4 Star Family Break, close to all the fun Galway has to offer, with great food and a kids club – you will struggle to beat The Clayton Hotel  

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