Review: Faithlegg Hotel, Co. Waterford
Something for the weekend: Faithlegg House Hotel
Frank Coughlan takes a trip to Waterford's unheralded coastline to experience old style luxury
When we think of picture postcard Ireland we generally find ourselves summoning up images of Kerry sunsets, wild Atlantic coastlines and majestic, moody mountains. It is certainly the image of Ireland we like to sell abroad. But there is more to this island than meets that particular eye. Which brings me to a part of the south-east's unheralded coastline that stretches from Dunmore East, in west Waterford, across the Barrow to Wexford's spectacular Hook Head.
So where's handy to lay your hat?
We pitched up at Faithlegg House, a period four-star hotel built on an estate that has been around since Cromwellian times. Oliver might have his critics, but he knew a good spot when he found one. It is home to a fine golf course that throws up a wonderful vista as you make your entrance.
Is it easy to get to?
A 20-minute drive by car from Waterford city centre, which means it's a cheap taxi ride from the train or bus if you want to leave the car back home and park your bottom on a comfy sofa for a few days.
We chose a suite (€40 extra) in the old house, which boasted a four poster, high ornate ceilings and a sweeping view over the landscaped grounds. The rooms in the modern wing (a tasteful, unassuming design) would possibly be more practical, but hardly as charming.
The food? give us a taster
Yes, there was lots of it. Disappointingly, they've dispensed with their tapas bar menu (though, teasingly, it was still advertised in the rooms). But our meal in the Aylward Lounge was yum and competitively priced (I had chicken; Debs a simple dish of organic smoked salmon). We ate in the more formal Roseville Rooms on our second night. It was sea bass for me and the quality could not be faulted. Virtuously, Debs went vegetarian. She was less virtuous when it came to the wine.
Breakfast – crucial surely?
A hotel can sweep you off your feet, but if the toast is soggy and the bacon limp it's all been for nought. No fear. The Faithlegg breakfast is well up there (we'd recommend the kippers, or the poached eggs-on-blaa).
So after the food, exercise?
Exercise can be overrated and I only ever indulge in enough to get me to the next meal with a sense of anticipation. Swimming is good for that. I splashed about in the 17 metre pool then lay in the sauna. Highly recommended.
And the gym?
These places make me fidgety, but masochists won't be disappointed. It has all the torture instruments beloved of modern Ego Man.
Did you get out and about?
We took the road least travelled to Dunmore East. If there is a prettier seaside village in Ireland I would be surprised. We sat sipping coffee, discussing selling a teenager so we could buy a holiday home there.