I have made four trips to Ireland, and each time I have been I have traveled all over both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Three of those trips I have traveled primarily by bicycle, and one by buses and trains. I’ve traveled alone twice and accompanied twice and I have stayed mostly in hostels, sprinkling in a few B&Bs along the way.
The Downhill Hostel is, simply put and without question, the best hostel I have ever stayed in Ireland. Far and away. That is to say, both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It seems that most people who stay there (as well as those who assess these places for a living) agree with me, as it has won multiple awards for the quality of not only its facilities, but it’s staff and location as well. The rooms, dormitory or private, are clean and secure. The beds (yes, even the dormitory ones) are provided with comfortable mattresses and cozy comforters. Additional blankets are available as well if you sleep a little cold. The kitchen area is extremely well-stocked with cups, mugs, plates and utensils, but also has quite a good variety of cooking equipment. You might as well be cooking at home, or at the home of one of your better-equipped cooking friends. There are nice tables to sit at in the dining and common room for eating, both rooms boasting huge bay windows that let in a lot of light from the outside. The hostel itself is a beautiful old building, both inside and out, that presents nicely without feeling like a museum.
The location is really difficult to beat. It is set at the base of high cliffs that tower over it, running straight down to a beach that meets the Irish Sea. Between the hostel and the beach is a railroad trellis that has an underpass for pedestrians. You can literally walk out the front door of the hostel at a quite leisurely pace, and find yourself on the beach in 30 seconds. The beach is several miles long and hosts fishing, running, surfing, strolling, occasional (illegal?) bonfire-ing, sandcastle-ing and whatever else you might expect from a beach. When the tide is out you can walk to Castle Rock in under a half hour to get food supplies or a nice cup of coffee and a scone, and if you do so, be sure to ask the Gilfillans (William, McCall and little Rowan) how to walk back from Castle Rock through the woods. This route won’t extend the time or distance much and is well worth finding for the look of it. There are castle ruins that reside along the route, and if you wander out to Mussenden Temple, you’ll discover that all of these ruins reside on the top of the cliffs that sit behind the hostel itself. Ask the Gilfillans also about hikes and sites in the area because there are a lot of worthwhile trips to take in the mountains and forests nearby.
Downhill is right along the bus route into Derry, with some other towns bigger than itself in between. Coleraine is quite close in one direction while Limavady is on the way to Derry. No matter where you are coming from, getting to the hostel shouldn’t be a problem. The Northern Ireland Railways train has a stop in Castle Rock (a very nice little seaside town) as well, so getting there is quite easy. The town of Downhill is quiet, having no other businesses to speak of in it. If you want a place that will allow you to think and relax and just be, Downhill and the hostel are just the place. Catering more to families and groups than masses of people passing through for a night, the guest book is littered with comments about how people not only enjoyed their stay, but extended it by several days for not wanting to leave the comfort and feel of it.
The best part about the hostel though, is the feel of it. It has been the most relaxing place I know of for 15 years now. It feels very homey inside. The sitting room is so cozy for reading and journaling or playing games or strumming a guitar, and the smell of the fireplace just right for a nice evening in. The hostel is owned and run by the Gilfillans, who have worked hard to create a place of hospitality and peace for guests. They have succeeded in every way imaginable. The Downhill Hostel is well worth the nightly rate and worth more time than you’d planned to be there.
Things to do: paint your own pottery, surf (wetsuits for hire), walks/hikes, beach activities, being as relaxed as you’ve ever been traveling, reading, etc. The Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Dunluce Castle are all within easy reach of the hostel as well.
- Also Known As:
- Downhill Beachhouse Coleraine, Northern Ireland
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Downhill Beachhouse (formerly Downhill Hostel) is a self-catering Victorian Villa accepting both individual and group bookings. Accommodation is in double, twin, and 4 persons rooms. Use of a guest kitchen, dining and living room is included in the tariff. This atmospheric home is very popular with couples, families, outdoor enthusiasts, and groups of friends or families. The property borders the National Trust property containing the famous 'Mussenden Temple' and fronts onto the Downhill/Benone Beach. Local outdoor and arts activities can be arranged by the owners for guests. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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