A trip with Belmond is an invite you never turn down. The company have a brilliant collection of hotels around the world, but it is with their exquisite luxury trains that they really excel beyond all expectation.
The Grand Hibernian takes passengers on a journey through Ireland. Teaming up with the fabulous, acclaimed Irish chef Clodagh McKenna, Belmond have created a trip that is centred around the finest food and produce that Ireland has to offer.
After a night in Dublin we were transported to the main train station where a group of playing musicians led us to our carriages. Once on board it was champagne all round and a lovely introduction from the train manager and Clodagh.
Inside the Grand Hibernian furnishings are sophisticated and stylish… in the main carriage a bar is always open for drinks and the comfortable seating comes draped in blankets so you can get cosy and enjoy the views whizzing past.
Bedrooms are located further down the train, a mix of double beds and twin to suit all passengers needs, you can also adjoin two cabins to make a larger family option. Decorated in a similar style the room was muted shades of beige and brown with lovely details and luxurious touches. The tiny but satisfying functional bathroom featured a shower, toilet and sink, and was stocked with Bomford toiletries.
I couldn’t help but explore inside our little desk to discover Belmond postcards which I had an urge to send to everyone I knew!
The Belmond trains offer different length trips, travelling to a range of destinations. For this journey Clodagh had picked some of her favourite spots to show us. This included a visit to Ballyvolane House where we foraged in the garden, admired the grand house and tasted their delicious Bertha’s of Revenge Irish milk gin. On the second day we stopped for lunch in Galway, dining at the charming Ard Bia at Nimmos on the water’s edge. Here we were treated to a oyster demonstration from one of the city best known shuckers from Kelly Oysters, and feasted on a wonderfully wholesome lunch. After a quick wander round town it was back on the train for the evening meal and entertainment.
The dining carriages were great fun on the Grand Hibernian, although, being with Clodagh on a London tube journey would be fun… she brings so much joie de vivre to the table and it’s impossible not to be swept up with it all. The menus we experienced were carefully curated by Clodagh and the Belmond chefs, a clever way to showcase the ingredients from the areas we were travelling through. Once we were all thoroughly fed and watered it was time for an Irish jig lesson, and the night finished with pints of Guinness customised with our faces on the foam!
It was solemn faces all round as we stepped off the train for the final time. In two short days I felt I’d had the trip of a lifetime, and the staff felt like family. I can’t recommend this experience enough… for the keen traveller and foodie it really is unlike any other journey you’ll ever experience.
I was a guest of Belmond. More information and book a trip on the Grand Hibernian here.