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Hotel Review: Dunmore House is a dog-friendly doozy in West Cork

Our reviewer and her beloved dog Romy check into this family-run hotel for some RnR, sea views and breakfast that runs until 11am every day

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One of the bedrooms at Dunmore House Hotel

One of the bedrooms at Dunmore House Hotel

Dining at Dunmore House Hotel

Dining at Dunmore House Hotel

Inside Dunmore House in West Cork

Inside Dunmore House in West Cork

The Sea Terrace at Dunmore House Hotel

The Sea Terrace at Dunmore House Hotel

Dunmore House

Dunmore House

Sea views across the garden at Dunmore House Hotel

Sea views across the garden at Dunmore House Hotel

Dunmore House

Dunmore House

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One of the bedrooms at Dunmore House Hotel

Let’s start with total honesty here, in the interests of transparency.

I absolutely love Cork. I will drive to the city, home of my maternal forebearers, in a heartbeat if the invitation presents.

But there was extra excitement this time around, because my staycation was taking me beyond the city limits for the first time in too long. So I joyfully took a left off the motorway at Bishopstown and let out a yelp of delight as I drove under the giant viaduct. West Cork, here I come!

I always maintain that West Cork is a glorious state of mind, which enables blue-sky thinking and calm (just ask Graham Norton, who clearly thrives on it). And that’s exactly what I was after at Dunmore House Hotel — along with Romy, my 11-year-old Yorkshire terrier.

The Rating: 8/10

Arrival & location

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The Sea Terrace at Dunmore House Hotel

The Sea Terrace at Dunmore House Hotel

The Sea Terrace at Dunmore House Hotel

There are an increasing number of dog-friendly hotels and B&Bs in Ireland, but with mixed degrees of welcome and access. Dunmore House boasts a fine restaurant, casual dining options and bar, but it nails its colours to the mast with its fondness for canines — the first thing I spotted when we pulled up were the big water bowls outside.

Set about 6km (an eight-minute drive) from Clonakilty, the hotel is a fourth-generation business now run by Peter Barrett, whose great-grandparents moved there in 1934 to farm the land. At the time, his great-grandmother, Mary O’Donovan, famously said: “There is nothing here but water.” She served tea and scones to visitors at her scenic home, but after attending a wedding in town, felt she could have done it better. The rest is history.

A popular wedding destination since the 1950s, the hotel has thrived under the direction of the next generations. Derry and Mary O’Donovan and, in turn, Peter’s parents, Carol and her retired solicitor husband Richard Barrett, took the hotel to the next level, and it is now an award-winning stay on the Wild Atlantic Way. 8/10

Service & style

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Dining at Dunmore House Hotel

Dining at Dunmore House Hotel

Dining at Dunmore House Hotel

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The family-feel is palpable in a ‘nothing is too much trouble’ kind of way, and you just know that they have guest comfort in mind when you hear that breakfast runs until 11am every day. Why don’t more hotels do this, I wonder?

The décor in the hotel serves as a neutral backdrop to show off their impressively varied art collection — which includes work from artists like the late William Crozier and Seán McSweeney, Neil Shawcross and up-and-coming local print maker and visual artist Shane O’Driscoll. I was happy out just walking around the lounge, with its comfortable sofas, and checking out the art, which is skilfully arranged so it adds to the ambience and ‘chill’ factor. 8/10

The rooms

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Dunmore House

Dunmore House

Dunmore House

Overlooking Clonakilty Bay, Dunmore House has five dog-friendly rooms, which all face out the front with small patio balconies so dogs can safely enjoy the sea views. No shared doggy kennels out the back for my pooch at this property.

I slept in a large family room with a double bed and two single beds, which was well laid out, not crowded. The bathroom products were from Voya — made with seaweed, which is entirely appropriate with the coastal theme. But what really caught my eye were the lovely cotton tote bags with an illustration by artist Conor Merriman — handy for organising things during your stay and free to take home, they make for a lovely momento of your stay.

I love a cool room, so it was nice to open the balcony door and listen to the waves as I relaxed. A Moss Gaynor sculpture sits proudly on the new Sea Terrace, which was a short stroll from the room, too. 8/10

Food & drink

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Sea views across the garden at Dunmore House Hotel

Sea views across the garden at Dunmore House Hotel

Sea views across the garden at Dunmore House Hotel

You’ll find Carol Barrett in the kitchen at breakfast time, and her light touch is to be enjoyed, especially her fresh fried fillet of plaice, which is cooked ‘Derry style’ — à la her father’s special technique. The unusual methodology is a closely guarded family secret.

There is a set dinner menu for €50 in the Adrift restaurant, but I went à la carte and was exceedingly happy with my bisque, complete with succulent lobster tail, followed by turbot on a pea risotto, leeks and citrus cream.

The food experience is a major part of the attraction. You’ll also find casual dining in the bar and lounge, and the menu features lots of local west Cork influences and a welcome category of ‘wholefood’, something sadly overlooked in a lot of Irish hotels. I loved how my breakfast omelette was made with eggs the gardener had just brought in from the garden, for example. The ‘Good Morning’ breakfast menu is the kind of wholesome start that sets you up for the day, whether you are going golfing, surfing, deep-sea fishing, horse riding or plan to stay onsite to walk around the hotel’s Cliff Garden. 8.5/10

The bottom line

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Inside Dunmore House in West Cork

Inside Dunmore House in West Cork

Inside Dunmore House in West Cork

Dunmore House reminded me a little of Kelly’s Resort in Rosslare, not only because of the art, but also the family ethos. It also had a similar vibe to Renvyle, with the friendly staff and coastal setting. There were a lot of couples, of all ages, staying in the hotel while Romy and I were there but, as a singleton, I didn’t feel awkward or outnumbered.

One other thing to note: dogs are not just welcome in the bedrooms. You will spot them in the bar and lounge but, understandably, not in the restaurant.

Insider tip

Rates for a dog-friendly room (superior double/twin) from €240 midweek and €280 at the weekend.

Local 101

There are 10 beaches to explore within 10 minutes of the hotel, including Duneen, Inchydoney, Long Strand and Sandscove. The car came back full of sand, but Romy had a ball, and a sea swim.

Rates

B&B from €195 in October (double room) and €169 in November. Bairbre was a guest of the hotel. dunmorehousehotel.ie


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