If it's colour and luxury you want, Saska Graville has found a place where you'll find that and much, much more.
By some strange oversight, I wasn't invited to Elton John and David Furnish's wedding. No, I don't know them, we've never met, but I really, really wanted to go and mingle with the likes of Elizabeth Hurley and Victoria Beckham. Well, I may have been most definitely not on the list, but having returned from a weekend at the g Hotel in Galway, I don't care. I feel like I've just spent 48 hours as Elton's house guest, and very luxurious it was, too.
You think I'm exaggerating about the fabulousness of the g? Consider its credentials. The Irish hotel is the first venture into interior design by world-renowned milliner Philip Treacy. (He's a local boy from down the road in Ahascragh.) More used to topping the heads of supermodels and royalty (Camilla's wedding day feathers were courtesy of Treacy), the designer has applied his whimsical and decidedly camp aesthetic to every centimetre of this 98-room property. What other hotel can boast a reception-area aquarium filled with seahorses and the entire cast of Finding Nemo? Or a gilt-framed photograph in the Grand Salon of Marilyn Monroe that was the star's own personal favourite and bequeathed to her housekeeper when she died? The hotel bought it last year. As I said, all very Elton.
Treacy describes entering the g as "like walking onto a film set". The Grand Salon is certainly a starry experience. The huge room is dominated by a Tom Dixon light installation of 300 silver chrome balls. The varying-sized globes sway at different heights from the ceiling like giant, upside-down helium balloons. Sprawl underneath them on one of the outsize velvet sofas and the effects are hypnotic.
Like a camp theme park, the g is a series of differently styled spaces. From the silvers and creams of the Grand Salon, you move into the vividness of the Pink Room. This is decor for drama queens. The mix of shocking pink walls, a brain-teasing black and white swirling carpet, antique gold mirrors and elegant 1940s glass lamps creates a nightclub-like opulence that makes you want to order cocktails into the wee small hours (which, of course, you can).
From there, you move into the Navy Room, a more calming, masculine area filled with squashy sofas and armchairs - and still more antique mirrors. Your journey on the pink carpet finishes up at the Cocktail Bar and Santini restaurant with its purple velvet banquettes and a rainbow of lolly-hued chairs.
I didn't want to leave the gloriously technicoloured world of the g. Why venture into reality where the tones are greyish and sludgy when you can immerse yourself in saturated shades of brightness? The real world isn't nearly so much fun. Which is why the g is such a gloriously escapist experience. And why I think Elton John should move in immediately.
I also suspect that the newlyweds would fall in love with the g's guest rooms. Surely every married couple needs a pitch-sized bed made up with Frette linen and a bathroom with double basins and Mr & Mr outsize walk-in showers? The freestanding bath is so deep that by the time it was filled, a bottle of wine from the mini bar had been drunk, and the bubbles still weren't up to the top.
If a soak in a swimming-pool-sized bath isn't enough of an indulgence for you, then the g's spa demands an immediate visit. ESPA has replaced the theatricality of the hotel's public spaces with a tranquil, calm interior that envelops you the minute you enter. Heated loungers ("tepidariums" in spa-speak) surround a bubbling vitality pool, while a rock sauna and ice fountain provide contrasting body-extremes. And when it all gets too much, head upstairs to the glass-walled relaxation area, pour yourself a fresh fruit juice and lie on a day bed, headphones filling your ears with something soothing (please God, not Enya) as you gaze out to the bamboo garden.
I can't believe anyone would want to come to the g and work, but the hotel is kitted out with a boardroom and event suite for conferences. There is also exclusive use of two of the theatres in the next-door Eye Cinema. Personally, I think it's a plum wedding location. At time of going to press the hotel hadn't hosted its first "I do", but one lucky bride was due in the next few weeks. She had booked her spot when the site was just a grassy meadow and Treacy's plans were a whimsical dream. But she had faith. I wish her every happiness as she waltzes down the white carpet the hotel is laying on for her.
Glamour and OTT design are one thing, but what transforms the g into a world-class hotel experience is the service. There's a buzz among the staff that makes you feel part of something truly special. They seem genuinely excited to be sharing their hotel with you. I doubt there'll ever be a Russell Crowe-esque phone-throwing incident here. There's no attitude or drama, just a sense of "aren't we all lucky to have stumbled across this fabulous location".
If you're reading this, Elton, how about a vow-renewal at the g on your first anniversary? I'm sure they'll lay on a white carpet for you. You can send me an invite as a thank you for finding such a perfect location. I can guarantee that my RSVP will be a yes, not just so that I can gawp at the fellow guests, but because I can't wait to return to the g.
Staying at a hotel has never been so much fun.
· The g, Wellpark, Galway, Ireland. Phone +353 91 865 200, see http://www.monogramhotels.ie.
· The g is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Room rates start at EUR450 ($725) per night.
· Getting there: Phone Qantas on 131 313 for details of flights to the UK. From the UK, connect with oneworld alliance partners Aer Lingus or British Airways for flights to Ireland or book with Ryan Air at http://www.ryanair.com. · Local airports to the g are Galway and Knock (about 60 minutes' drive).
The writer was a guest of Tourism Ireland.