This has to be one of the best places I have stayed. A lovely property and top quality service with no pretensions.
Even though many of the staff are now from mainland Europe they have captured the essence of Irish hospitality; friendliness, warmth, interest in their clients (which appears to be genuine and is certainly not 'forced' in any way) and extremely efficient. This is how Ireland was before the current days of major tourism and hotel chains that only care about the bottom line. (I've been going to Ireland at least twice a year for over 35 years so feel qualified to comment).
A river runs beside the property (which can mean midges in late afternoon/early evening: small biting flies, so pack some midge repellent). The restaurant looks down onto the river below. It's magical and romantic - and rains fairly frequently so if you're a sun-worshipper perhaps you should think twice about this spot.
The grounds are extensive and lead into the breathtakingly wild scenery of Connemara. It's true that the mountains are not as high as in many countries and the sea isn't as blue and the valleys are not as wide or deep but it's Connemara, it's unique in my experience (I don't just go to Ireland, I travel widely) and it is very, very special.
The property is not a real castle, it's an impressive house with twirly bits (technical term!). Personally I don't care that a former owner had delusions of grandeur, the current owners provide an experience to be treasured and remembered with nothing but fond memories.
I stay in a luxury room which is large and comfortable, I've never seen a standard room but I've never heard anybody complaining about the room they are in.
Most people seem to stay for one, two or three nights – which really isn’t long enough to explore the area and unwind but the up-side of a short stay is that the restaurant offering doesn’t have time to become repetitive. The food has always been excellent but on the third night it does become a case of déjà vu. It isn’t identical every night but the differences are small. This is the only problem I can find with Ballynahinch Castle and it’s one that does not, for me, detract from the overall experience.
Breakfast is as substantial as you want it to be and if you specify how you want things done - “soft eggs” - “small bowl of porridge” (if you don’t specify a small bowl you get enough for an army!) - “crisp bacon rashers” - that’s what you get.
On my first morning there this year I laughingly told the waiter that I like things done in a very particular way and as long as he took note I’d be happy. His smiling answer was, “That’s what we’re here for, to keep our guests happy and make sure they have a great stay with us.” How refreshing. Even better, they really did meet all my requirements and they did it willingly and cheerfully.
You can easily reach one of the beautiful sandy beaches which are not too far away, perhaps 20 minutes, from memory, and the trip through nearby Roundstone Bog is stunning. Clifden, the capital of Connemara, is easily reached via the main road from Galway. the Roundstone Bog road or the coast road (a.k.a. ‘The Brandy and Soda Road’ as the effect of travelling this winding road was supposed to be equal to the effects of a stiff drink, sadly many of the scary bits have been straightened out and it’s not as much fun as it used to be).
If you enjoy scenery, good food, good service, elegant décor and comfort I’m sure you’ll be happy here.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxury 4 star hotel located on a 450 acre estate with 48 bedrooms & suites overlooking the river, mountain or both. The Fisherman's pub serves lunch and dinner by the open log fire, dinner is also served in the award winning Owenmore Restaurant. On site, miles of scenic river & lakeside walks, bicycles to explore the area, fly fishing and clay shooting. Locally we have a boat trip from Roundstone fishing village which includes a trip to a deserted island & lobster fishing and great hiking. Connemara National Park, Connemara Golf Club and Clifden are all a short drive as is the ferry & airport to the Aran Islands. Ballynahinch Castle is the ideal base for touring Connemara and the Wild Atlantic Way. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ballynahinch Castle Hotel Ireland/County Galway - Recess