Knockranny House Hotel is a four-star version of home
Something for the weekend
Roll out the red carpet because it appears to be awards season all over again, but this time in Westport. The town itself was nominated best place to live in Ireland in a national poll in 2012 and now the local Knockranny House Hotel and Spa is reeling in the accolades. It was named AA Hotel of the Year last year.
It feels like home but a four-star version of it. The lobby is luxurious and vast but somehow homely and welcoming, a feeling accentuated by the truly exceptional staff.
The room is light and airy. The period furniture, the sage-green colour scheme and the paintings are a study in harmony, symmetry and the very best possible taste. The bed is dressed in the softest cotton and is itself the size of some hotel rooms.
The little extras
There's a decanter of port on the table, a stack of magazines by the bed and the bookshelves are well-stocked with paperbacks.
It was, quite possibly, the best massage ever. Therapist Valerie at the Spa Salveo has that rare knack of being able to tease out all those gnarly bits between the shoulders (oh, exquisite agony) while simultaneously sending her subject sailing off into seventh heaven on a wave of essential oils.
Head chef at La Fougere restaurant Seamus Commons has won more awards than you can shake a stick at and his inventiveness shines through the Table d'Hote menu (€52).
I had pan-seared bream, aubergine calabrese, wilted spinach and mussel vinaigrette followed by a dessert of bitter chocolate pave, orange and cranberry, blood orange sorbet and chocolate biscuit. Yes, that's all one dessert and every morsel of it was savoured. There's an in-house sommelier too. Nicolas Faujours (award-winning, of course) will help you make a choice from the 300 or so wines in stock at the hotel.
It's Cocktail Hour
Mixology might sound like a makey-uppy word but master cocktail-maker Owen Hughes in the Cocktail Lounge is the real deal. He won the 2013 Five Star Finest Call Cocktail Competition last year and you can sample his winning cocktail Price Punch for €8.
From the breakfast room, you can see Clew Bay twinkling in the distance and the pilgrim's mountain Croagh Patrick is a spectacular shade of purple this morning.
The first thing that strikes you is the number of Irish guests. Knockranny gets lots of repeat business from Irish couples and families and you can see why.
There are those rare occasions when there just isn't a bad word to say.
Need to know
Knockranny House Hotel, which is owned by Adrian and Geraldine Noonan, is just off the Dublin/Castlebar Road on the N5. Westport town centre is a 10-minute walk away and Knock airport is a 50-minute drive.
There are special offers including a five-night midweek deal (including a free overnight stay on Sunday night) with dinner on four evenings from €295 per person sharing. Offer valid from April 1 to May 29.
In May, there's a two-night BB midweek offer from €169.
Knockranny House Hotel & Spa, Westport, Co Mayo.
Tel: 098 28600