Attending #IEEEGEM in Galway this Summer? An Accommodation Guide for IEEE Games, Entertainment & Media Conference, 15th-17th August 2018

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This is the second in a set of travel guides for those coming to Ireland for the IEEE Games Media & Entertainment conference this August. In an earlier article I covered your initial arrival into Ireland and travel to Galway town. Here I’m going to focus on accommodation in Galway – what is available and where it is located relative to the conference venue.

Initial Orientation – University Campus & Eyre Square

Lets begin by locating the Alice Perry Engineering Building relative to Eyre Square (effectively the centre of down-town Galway). If you arrive by bus from Dublin airport you’ll arrive at the coach station which is right beside Eyre Square.

If you look at the map to your right you’ll see Eyre Square in the bottom right-hand corner. The blue walking route takes you through the main campus – a pleasant walk past the cathedral. The top route (25 mins) takes you over the Millennium Bridge – a less pleasant walk as there will be traffic on the bridge, but there are some nice views and, as we’ll see shortly, there are some hotels on the opposite side of the bridge – and thus closer to the Engineering Building than Eyre Square.

So if it is a nice day you can walk from Eyre Square to the conference venue. But you can also catch a taxi – there are taxi ranks on Eyre Square, or you can call a cab to your hotel. We don’t have Uber, but there is a local equivalent – MyTaxi – which has an ‘app’ for your smartphone, or try mytaxi.ie on any browser.

Conference Venue and Main Campus

You second orientation locates the Alice Perry Engineering Building (North Campus) relative to the Historic Campus and the original University Buildings, referred to as the ‘Quad’.

The Quad buildings are the original University where Alice Perry would have studied. Today it houses the offices of the President, Registrar and Bursar, it also incorporates the Aura Maxima which doubles as a concert hall and for town-hall style meetings of University staff.

If you are walking from Eyre Square you’ll pass by the Quad on your way to the Engineering Building. Here is your second orientation map to the right – the “National University of Ireland Galway” marked at the bottom is “the Quad”. Just below that you’ll see Galway Cathedral – that is your first landmark if you chose the scenic route, walking from Eyre Square. (I’ve added a picture of the Cathedral below; but you can’t miss it – there is only one Cathedral in Galway!)

As you can see it is a short 12-15 minute walk from the Quad to the venue for IEEE GEM 2018. This will take you through the University campus and in under the Millennium Bridge – this is the yellow road running across the top of the map.

The campus stretches along the river Corrib and you’ll notice that many beautiful images of the river feature in some of my articles. Most of these are courtesy of a colleague Chaosheng Zhang – thanks for agreeing to share these Chaosheng!

Well now that you know where you are, I will focus on some accommodation options in two main areas – (i) around Eyre Square where you can find most of the nightlife and (ii) closer to the conference venue where you might be some peace & quiet.

Around Eyre Square – Hotels

I should begin by saying that any opinions expressed in this article are my own. Also I strongly recommend that you do your own due diligence on accommodation as the quality of accommodation and customer service can change from year to year.

The Galmount Hotel & Spa (formerly the Galway Radisson Hotel)

This hotel is well located just a 2 minute walk up from the coach station. It is well situated, just off Eyre Square but sequestered away from the noise and nightlife. The hotel also has several dining choices and a nice patio area with a view over Lough Atalia, an inlet from Galway.

I’ve attached a screenshot above from a recent search for two nights – 15th & 16th August. Clicking on the image should get you a more up-to-date quotation from skyscanner. (Note that this hotel may still appear as the Galway Radisson in some search engines). Note that this is likely the hotel where the keynote speakers will be accommodated.

Other Hotels around Eyre Square

There are many other hotels in the area. You can save a bit but other hotels may be close to night clubs so that there could be noise late at night. If you are staying directly on the square you should ask for a quiet room when booking.

Some example prices are shown opposite, again for 15th & 16th August and there is a clickable link that should get you an update on hotels in Eyre Square area.

In general you get what you pay for so, for example, the Imperial is an older hotel and the rates are a bit lower. If you can’t get a room at the Radisson/Galmont then two other hotels that are ‘just off’ Eyre Square are the Victoria Hotel and the Harbour Hotel.

What About a Hostel?

If you are trying to mind your budget so you can spend a bit more time in Galway then you might want to consider a Hostel for accommodation.

Galway is actually the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way and known as a backpackers paradise, so there are many hostel-style options and most of them have single or double room options.

I’m just showing a couple of these here, but there are quite a few others and again the rates are for two nights – 15th & 16th August. Naturally you should do your own research on accommodation, checking out reviews on a site such as TravelAdvisor to get opinions from other travellers.

Hotels near the Conference Venue

If you are more into the quiet life and don’t plan to explore Galway’s night life you may want to look at accommodation closer to the conference venue. There aren’t quite as many options here, but still you have a good choice of accommodation.

Westwood Hotel

This is the closest hotel to the conference venue, although a quick check on Google Maps shows me that it is actually a 15 minute walk and so not much closer than downtown hotels. And you’ll miss that scenic walk past the Cathedral & through the Historic University campus.

It is a 4-star hotel, but I can give some local knowledge that you might find useful – the hotel was sold last year and the new owners had intended to close it to redevelop the hotel as student apartments.

However they had some complications with planning regulations and so the hotel will remain open this year. It is likely that the new owners will not have invested so the quality of rooms may be on the decline. I will try to make a visit shortly and update you on my impressions. For now, my advice is to look out for discount rates if you decide to stay here.

Across the Millennium Bridge

When you cross the bridge from the University you can head downtown, or you can swing in the opposite direction. This takes you past several suburban housing estates and a more industrial area of the town, but you can find several good quality hotels in this area.

These are not much closer to the venue than down-town but there won’t be noise from late night revellers and night-clubs. The Maldron Hotel was previously a Marriott property and has a pleasant bar & restaurant area beside the compact lobby.

Another hotel just a couple of minutes up the road is the Menlo Park Hotel. These are both 4-star rated hotels and have bar and restaurant facilities.

If you are travelling in a group I believe the Menlo Park may also offer apartment accommodation, but you should confirm that for yourself. Note that rates at both these hotels are better than downtown.

Accommodation at the Corrib Student Village

Last, but not least we can offer you the option of staying right beside the conference venue. The Corrib Student Village is right next door to the Alice Perry Building. It isn’t a hotel – the accommodation is based on individual rooms with a common living & kitchen area shared between 5-6 rooms.

That has the advantage that you can do self-catering and the big advantage is that you are right beside the conference venue. Google tells me it is an 8 minute walk, but that is from the main reception. All of the rooms are between the reception and the Engineering Building so your walk will likely be even shorter.

We’ve set up a block booking for the conference and you can book this accommodation when you register.

A table of prices in USD is provided opposite. As an added bonus breakfast is included in these prices and you can extend your stay into the week-end if you want to spend more time sight-seeing around Galway.

Well I’m going to take a rest now and get a cup of coffee! But before I go let me finish by saying that I hope you have found this guide useful and I look forward to meeting many of you in Galway this Summer!

Sincerely,

Peter Corcoran, conference chair IEEE GEM 2018