Only a short flight from London, Lough Eske Castle, is the perfect oasis from everyday life.
Situated by a mountain-flanked lake outside of the quaint town of Donegal in Northwest Ireland, the hotel is a completely modernised castle, that traces its roots back to the late 1400s.
As we pulled up to the spectacular Elizabethan building, the hotel staff were waiting at the door to welcome us to our home for the next few days. Within a few short minutes we found ourselves being ushered into the lounge to enjoy a light lunch and a glass or two of Malbec.
From the moment we arrived, the staff made a strong impression that lasted the duration of our stay. The friendly good nature of everyone from the general manager to the night porter, is without a doubt what makes this such a special place to visit. We were lucky enough to arrive a day before St Patricks day and the hotel staff were busy working on their Disney themed float for the annual parade in Donegal. What really surprised me was the sense of pride the community has for the hotel, being the only 5 star hotel in the area.
Lough Eske Castle, is the type of place that has something for everyone, from reading nooks and wood burning fireplaces to curl up beside, to horseback riding along the beach. As the staff kept telling us, you can do as much or as little as you like here.
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London for a few days, we decided to go the more low key route and spent the day in their fantastic Solis Spa. With eight treatment rooms including two couples’ treatment rooms, and a thermal suite, they definitely cater for all wellness and indulgent relaxation needs. Getting into relaxation mode, I opted for a massage. 30 minutes later I felt like a new person.
Like many of the 96 guest rooms, my room was in the modern extension out the back. While a far cry from the castle facade, it was tastefully decorated and spacious with a comfortable bed, large tiled bathroom, and generous living area.
During our stay we primarily ate at the Hotel restaurant Cedars. The restaurant serves contemporary cuisine inspired by fresh local Irish produce, with daily rotating menus focused on the freshest offerings of the season.
Being vegan, I am used to eating some pretty boring, if not downright unappetising things in hotels. However, the chef must have been doing his research and prepared me a number of fantastic dishes from aubergine caviar to vegan rice pudding. Pretty sure my fellow diners were wishing they were vegan too. Jokes aside, for the meat eaters the head chef has built an impressive fish smokery on the premise where you can learn to smoke your own salmon. I am told the results were truly delicious.
In addition to Cedars, there is a grill and two bars, which offer more casual dining and live music.
Overall, Lough Eske Castle is much more than a room to sleep in for the night. It is a fairy tale retreat, and one I would love to revisit soon.
The hotel currently is running a “Spring into Summer” offer with midweek stays from 179 Euros a night per couple (valid to 30th June 2015)
A Fairy Tale Escape: Lough Eske Castle Ireland