Inchydoney Lodge & Spa is tucked away on the South Coast of Ireland, only accessible via a narrow causeway which is prone to flooding in bad weather. It sits proudly on top of the peninsula, with panoramic views over the glorious beaches on either side, and is surrounded by rolling, green countryside. There is little in the way of habitation around and you can wander these beaches in the morning barely seeing a soul.
It is a popular spot at sunset, as moody clouds watch over hardy surfers braving the cold Atlantic. The views are as good as anywhere I have seen, and clearly I’m not alone in this belief as locals flock to the headland at dusk.
At low tide, its possible to walk down either beach to the inlets beyond but at high tide, only a sliver of land remains. Its beautiful in all weather, be that brilliant sunshine or stormy autumnal days with crashing waves battering the shoreline.
The scenery alone should be enough to entice you to visit, but what lies within takes you from the sublime to the superlative.
A Room With A View
Our rooms are gorgeous with a lush, big bed to sink into, a velvet daybed to laze away the days and a large, wraparound balcony overlooking one of the beaches. It has little rocking chairs strategically placed to enjoy the view, and a wooden bench outdoors for sunny days. In stormy weather, it is mesmerising to watch the crashing waves pounding the beach, and the distant roaring lulls you to sleep at night.
This hotel has a Thalassotherapy Pool and spa which is divine. The saltwater pool blends into jet pools with huge jets to pummel your shoulders and smaller jets to massage your lower back, calves and glutes. Hen parties, couples and singles flit between the jets chatting and laughing as they soothe their weary bodies.
If you tire of the water, you can head into the sauna or steam room to detox before any treatments you might have booked.
The Island Spa has a fabulous range of treatments on offer including some more unusual ones, such as ‘Specific Pain Relief Algae Wrap,’ ‘Enriching Chocolate Bath‘ for any choc-a-holics, and a ‘Sleep Tight Ritual.’ I could sure do with that one right now!
For couples, a treatment room for two and a private relaxation area can be booked, perfect for anyone wishing to do something special for an anniversary or other occasion. Hen parties, groups and singles can also indulge in day spa packages for as little as Euro 150.
It is a long time since I have been interested in art. I was a regular at art galleries as a student but since then, have found little time, or inclination, to indulge, preferring sports (and wine!).
This hotel has me wanting to head off to a local sculpture gallery though, with their extensive collection of art adorning the walls, and hundreds of stone and metal sculptures dotting the hallways, spa and gardens.
There are stone sculptures of tango dancers, metal sculptures of people in yoga positions, mesmerising wooden creations and more abstract pieces. I am fascinated by them and find myself wandering the corridors early in the morning and late at night, just so I can attempt to photograph the pieces without tripping someone over, or getting in the way of busy hotel workers.
Oh wow. I think this hotel has the best service of any I have ever experienced, with the exception of my honeymoon where I had a butler to respond to my every whim (even then it’s close!).
We have chocolates to welcome us to our room, and every request is met with quiet efficiency.
I request a shaving kit, and two minutes later, it arrives at my room.
A casual mention to Jo in the spa that I had managed to get completely soaked on the beach, has her rushing off to the laundry to see if they can dry my clothes. She assures me they can and I drop them off in the spa, only to find them neatly arranged on my bed less than an hour later, completely dry!
The serving staff indulge in lengthy conversations with customers which does not seem remotely contrived. I overhear one waitress telling a young boy about the new swimming pool, which turns out to be the flooded balcony which took a drenching in the morning downpour. Never mind it is a porky, she has him enthralled when he was clearly becoming restless.
The manager assures me that friendly service is a key aim of the hotel, as this encourages repeat visitors and referrals. I can assure you, it is certainly the friendliest place I have been, and I’m really sad to leave. I just hope I can bag a bargain flight so I can return sooner rather than later!
We are fortunate enough to dine in both The Gulfstream Restaurant and Dunes Pub & Bistro. The former has 7 course set menus to make your mouth water, whilst the latter is more casual dining in bar surroundings.
For formal dining in the Gulfstream Restaurant, you can choose from scallops, soups, seafood, meats and vegetarian options, all locally sourced. The smoked salmon comes from the nearby Ummera Smokehouse, and is the tastiest smoked salmon I’ve ever had (I wonder if they deliver…?).
Oysters come from nearby bays and are doused in liberal amounts of tabasco to create a zingy start to your culinary journey. Served with a little champagne, they are an indulgence, but you have come to relax, so do it in style!
Whichever you pick, frankly the food is divine. It is not cheap, but is also not ridiculous given the isolation of the hotel and the quality of the produce. If you are visiting in summer, you will also get to enjoy uninterrupted views of the coastline from the panorama windows of the restaurant, while you dine.
Dunes Pub & Bistro on the ground floor, offers sandwiches, curries and pastas and is a little lighter on the wallet. It is a friendly place, with open fireplaces to keep you warm on winter evenings, and has doors out to a sheltered garden.
It would be remiss not to mention the other quirky features of this hotel that make it so special.
There is the children’s room complete with lifesize pirate, lego, hula hoops and a ton of other stuff to keep the little ones entertained. Even better is the flat screen in there to entertain mum and dad while they watch over the kids.
There’s a fabulous smoking deck. Not like those scruffy contraptions you see outside pubs, but instead a sheltered outdoor area, with heating which triggers when you step on the decking, and if you peep through the gaps you should be able to see out to sea.
Avid readers can indulge in the readers room which is packed to the rafters with hoards of books, large and small, and for TV addicts, Netflix is available.
They seem to have thought of everything here, with links to local businesses who can offer other activities such as surfing, whale watching and kayaking.
One thing is for sure, you will not be bored here!
If you are feeling the urge to book you can fly direct with Cityjet from City Airport, or you can hop onto Skyscanner and search for flights from regional airlines. You will need a car to drive the 50 minute journey from the airport but it is enjoyable scenery along the way.
You can book the hotel through Hotels.com to earn one free night for every ten booked but be sure to check out the hotel site to ensure you are getting the best deal.
You can book the Island Break direct with the hotel including two nights bed and breakfast at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, with a welcome Irish Mist on arrival, breakfast each morning, a three course dinner in the Gulfstream Restaurant, and unlimited access to the heated seawater therapy pool, sauna, hammam and relaxation areas. This costs from £150 per person sharing so is a fabulous deal for a fabulous hotel.
What do you think?
Maybe you have visited, and would like to share your experience. Perhaps you have enjoyed a surfing lesson or kayaking close by. I would love to hear from you (in fact, I feel really unloved if you don’t talk to me!) so feel free to pop a comment below.
We stayed courtesy of Inchydoney Lodge but as always, all views are my own and unedited.
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