Saturday 18 November 2017

Cork City: Cheat sheets and terrace eats at the River Lee Hotel

It's 'the berries'...

River Lee Hotel - executive bedroom
River Lee Hotel - executive bedroom
The new terrace at Cork's River Lee Hotel
Cork's River Lee Hotel
River Lee Hotel, Cork
Rebecca and friend in The Weir Rooms restaurant

Rebecca Lee

Does Cork ever lose its appeal as a sneaky staycation? This writer thinks not... and her hotel isn't bad either.

Set the mood

Cosy, quaint and modern, The River Lee Hotel greets those looking for a great escape with polished revolving doors, a grand piano and a rather cosy open reception area with couches so comfy you won’t want to go to your room.

My friend and I were greeted with a warm, friendly welcome by staff, as well as a map kindly marked with a number of ‘decent’ eateries and places to visit. We were in town for the Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival (, so the cheat sheet was most welcome!

Another nice, and rather unusual, touch was the hot towels. We were given these to help us relax into our haven for the weekend. And yes, we did make it to the room - in our case an executive suite with a sinkable king size bed, modern, mellow lighting and a large, mahogany dresser and mirror.

Guilty pleasure

The new terrace at Cork's River Lee Hotel

The River Lee's new terrace

Wanting a real treat, we booked ourselves a table at the hotel’s restaurant and bar, The Weir Rooms - home to a new and impressive terrace overlooking the River Lee. With a bit of warmth in the air, you might even say it offers a beach-balmy atmosphere.

The highlight of our three-course dinner was the hotel's banoffee pie. As a caramel and biscuit addict, I was surprised to find this take on the infamous desert made with banana mousse, pecan nuts and topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

 As they say in Cork, it was ‘the berries’!

Cheap kick

For a true Cork experience that won’t cost a penny, the famous English Market is simply buzzing at weekends. People buy all sorts of local produce at this foodie heaven - from chocolates to artisan breads, duck eggs and good old fashioned fruit and veg.

The traditional feel and Cork accents flying around make it irresistible. You can sample the foods if you wish, talk to traders and collapse over a fresh cup of coffee after a hectic day in one of the market's many cafes - which are cool, calm and offer a few minutes escape from the madness of the market.

Insider intel

Dining in The Weir Rooms restaurant.jpg
Rebecca and friend in The Weir Rooms restaurant

Our stay at the River Lee was extremely pleasant and the hotel’s location could not be beaten. Situated just a 10-minute walk from the heart of Cork City, it’s a win-win holiday hotspot for people of all ages.

In addition to its main restaurant it boasts a bar area and offers leisure facilities which while basic include a gym, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna area.

Top Tip

Book a room that overlooks the River Lee. Although there’s no guarantee of getting one, the hotel’s positioning gives some gorgeous views over the water.


We couldn’t shake the feeling that the lighting in the rooms was a little too dark - meaning my friend and I fought over the mirror each evening.

Also when it came to accessing the hotel’s leisure facilities, we were advised to walk outside the front of the hotel to go through a separate entrance - which meant everyone and anyone could see us donning our bathrobes, which was not a good look!

Get me there

The River Lee Hotel (021 425-2700; is super easy to find, with the city bus and train stations just a few minutes’ walk away. Prices start from €70pp.

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