It was my friend (and traveling partner) who found this place on the Internet, and based on what she told me and the price we paid, I expected it to be a sort of hostel. What we found was more of a cross between a hostel and a hotel (or B&B if you pay the extra 5 Euros for breakfast, which we did - more on that later). It's certainly not a luxury 5-star hotel, but it is simple, clean, and warm.
Aras is located in a very rural area, a little ways outside of Glencolmcille itself. However, you are definitely rewarded with some amazing sights and scenery, where you might not mind getting a little lost sometimes (which you definitely will since roads are confusing and not always marked very well, especially out in the country, like Glencolmcille is).
We arrived a few hours early so we initially missed the owner, Paul, but were immediately welcomed and shown our room. When Paul did arrive, he gave us a very warm welcome, explained to us the various things to see and do around the area, and the best ways to get there. He was so enthusiastic about showing off the beauty of his country that I was sad we did not have time to take him up on all his suggestions.
Aras itself looks more like a home, and to this day, I'm really not sure what to call it - a hostel or B&B or hotel? In any case, we booked a 2 twin bed ensuite room (I believe all the rooms are ensuite). It was a small-ish room but we had enough space for all our things. It had a small TV hanging on one wall, although we never ended up using it. There is free Wifi, however, which we gladly took advantage of and didn't have any issues with. There weren't very many electrical outlets to charge our devices with, though - just one near one bed, and two located way up near the ceiling. The heater in the room worked well and there were extra blankets in the armoire in case we needed them (we didn't). The beds are simple and could probably use some extra padding, but we still slept well.
Our bathroom was clean and we were easily able to get hot water. Our bathroom ran out of hand soap but we carried our own so never asked for any more (Paul is always quick to help so I'm sure this would have been rectified if we had mentioned it).
The hotel features a large, modern kitchen, which opens to a dining area and a sofa and TV. It's honestly beautiful and guests are free to use the kitchen to make their own food (we didn't, as we bought take away food from a cafe in the village).
As I mentioned earlier, we paid 5 Euros each for breakfast. Totally worth it. We arrived in the kitchen to find cereal, orange juice, and a fresh pot of coffee (delicious coffee, too!). We helped ourselves. Then, Paul listed off a variety of cooked breakfast food to choose from - we were so overwhelmed by the choices that we just ordered bacon and eggs! He left and came back a little later with basket full of toast, a pot of tea, and two plates of steaming scrambled eggs and bacon. We were so full from this breakfast that we didn't have to eat lunch in the afternoon! We definitely did not expect such good, fresh food and in that amount for our 5 Euros.
Unfortunately, we only stayed here for the one night and had to depart early in the morning for Dublin. Even still, Paul gave us some suggestions for things to see on our way back to the big city (although again, due to time constraints, we were unable to see them), and also showed us on the map the route we'd be taking.
So, if you ever get the chance, rent yourself a car and drive up to this isolated area of Ireland, and if you do, it wouldn't be a bad idea to book a room at this place to stay for a while (and pay a little extra for the breakfast!) and enjoy the peace and beautiful scenery.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Adjacent to Slieve League with its breathtaking sea cliffs, Aras Ghleann Cholm Cille takes pride on offering excellent self catering accommodation at an affordable prices. Rather than the dormitory style rooms which may be available elsewhere in this price range, we have deluxe single, double/twin or family rooms available. All guests have access to a large and comfortable common area, plus a self catering kitchen with all modern amenities. Traditional Cooked Irish Breakfasts are also available ... more less
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