Review: Downton Abbey-style downtime just ten minutes from Dublin's city centre
Always wanted to be an extra in Pride and Prejudice or The Tudors? Clontarf Castle is for you, says Rachel Farrell
As my taxi drove up the driveway of the restored 12th century Clontarf Castle Hotel, I was surprised that such an authentic, medieval-looking place could exist just ten minutes from Dublin’s Connolly Station.
Set the mood
Inside is no different- blending a 12th century castle, 18th century manor house and modern refurb, the old stone walls work beautifully with the boutique décor. I couldn't help but think about how cosy the hotel lobby must be in a few months' time, when the Christmas decorations arrive.
Settling into an executive family room for the night, myself and my best friend admired the attention to detail in the bedroom. I felt like I was one step closer to achieving my dream of being a Downton Abbey cast member.
There’s a real romantic vibe to the hotel, and I can see we why it would be particularly attractive to couples.
If you’re going to invest in anything at the hotel, let it be the food. Over the space of 24 hours, I ate so much I thought I’d burst on Monday, but it was worth every last crumb.
We indulged in a three-course meal at the hotel’s Fahrenheit restaurant, which included an extensive wine list to match your tastes.
We also tried the popular Fusion Afternoon Tea, which promised an eclectic twist on your traditional set-up. There wasn’t a ham sandwich or Barry’s tea in sight - this afternoon tea included oat smoked chicken, a crayfish cocktail and orange and polenta sponge (a firm favourite at our table).
This was accompanied by exotic teas to match each course, from rooibos to an iced ginger and passionfruit. If you prefer egg sandwiches over beetroot cured Irish salmon, this may not be for you. But if you’re looking for a culinary experience, it’s worth the try.
As tourists in our own city, we embarked on a bike ride down Dollymount Strand to Bull Island beach, cycling along the promenade and stopping for coffee on the way.
If you’re not keen on outdoor activities like me, the ride out of the hotel down the road can be daunting- but once the fresh breeze hits you along the strand, you’ll thank yourself for giving it a try.
Whether you’re a tourist or homegrown, grab a bike and head along the route (particularly helpful for the prosecco-induced hangovers!).
If it’s raining, check out the artwork the hotel has to offer. Ask in reception for a map that will take you around the castle to look at the intriguing pieces of artwork, one floor at a time. It’s clear the hotel has put a lot of thought into their carefully selected collection.
Breakfast service appeared to be a bit slow on our visit, but we headed down at the busy period after 9am, so you could time things differently to avoid the crowds. The wide variety of homemade baked goods made up for it!
Guests might also note that there is no pool or spa.
Get me there
We got a €10 cab from Connolly Station which took ten minutes, but the 130 bus goes straight outside the hotel from Lower Abbey Street. Killester and Clontarf DART stations are both a 10-15 minute walk away either.
The Bed, Bike & Beyond package that we tested out is available from €319 per room per night and includes an overnight stay in a stylishly designed bedroom, with Artisan Castle breakfast, bicycle hire and Fusion Tea for two people.
Rachel was a guest of Clontarf Castle Hotel. For more information, call 01 833-2321 or visit clontarfcastle.ie.
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