Stunning new lodges offer a luxury base for families overlooking Lough Erne
Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel and Lodges are located in the heart of the waterways that dominate the geography of Fermanagh.
The family-owned hotel has expanded its accommodation with stunning new lodges at the waterside, and lately added an even more decadent touch of luxury, with a £1.5m investment that added six Woodland Lodges featuring their own private hot tubs.
The hotel itself is a popular choice for wedding parties, families, or those looking to relax at the waterside.
The rating: 8/10
Killyhevlin is just off the A4 to Belfast, so it’s easy to see why a roadside inn has been at this site for hundreds of years. However, the modern-day hotel has been in the same family for decades. Enniskillen town is just a short drive away. While one side of the hotel has the road, the other side looks out on the serenity of Lough Erne. It even has its own jetty, as we’d later discover.
We dodged the late afternoon traffic in Enniskillen (which gets very clogged up, it would appear) but trusty Google Maps brought us in the back way via some very windy roads. We were greeted by festive lights and friendly staff at reception.
Within an hour of pulling into the car park we had been quickly checked in, settled into our Woodland Lodge and were diving into the swimming pool in the hotel’s health club. We were impressed with the pool, jacuzzi, outdoor hot tub, steam room and sauna which were available for use during our stay.
There’s a gym too, and spa treatments for those who want to go for the extra pampering. Outside there’s a new padel tennis court and a decent playground for the kids. 8/10
Down-to-earth and friendly service is the order of the day. We particularly enjoyed the attention the children received at breakfast when there was a massive buffet available. The children even got to operate the pancake machine.
The hotel restaurant and breakfast room both felt spacious enough to accommodate the clamour on a busy weekend, even in these Covid-uncertain times when a bit of social distance is welcome.
There are some incredible views across the water if you choose the right seat at the right time.
However, the staff at times seemed a little run off their feet. This was particularly evident on Saturday night when we dined in the Lakeside Bar and Grill at the hotel. We’ve read plenty of stories of staff shortages during the pandemic, maybe once again Covid is partly to blame. 7/10
The accommodation was the real star of the show for my family as we were fortunate enough to get one of the six newer woodland lodges which are set just above the waterline.
Yes, the hot tub was in regular use and the children thought they were living the life of rock stars. Relaxing in 37C bubbling waters and looking out over a freezing cold lough was a highlight.
But for those that fear the hot tubs are a bit gimmicky, we found the rest of the lodge to be fairly luxurious. The lounge features huge glass windows on two sides giving a 270-degree view of the landscape, where we sipped coffee in warmth and winced while watching early morning rowers puff their way through the frigid air and glassy water.
There were comfortable beds, spacious sofas, modern heating controls, plus all the useful stuff for self-catering like microwave, dishwasher, ironing board and toiletries. 9/10
The lodge offered great self-catering options for a tired family with children who had spent half the day in school and the other half on the road. We collapsed with pasta and meatballs on the Friday evening, quite satisfied with life in our new surroundings.
Saturday saw us head to the Lakeside Bar and Grill where the menu features many favourites, from fish and chips to Chinese-style curry. It’s not fine dining, but portions were generous and flavours good. While the service was a little slow the atmosphere was bolstered by live piano music and a pre-Christmas buzz.
Breakfasts were big and hearty: plenty of choice, and plenty of it. A buffet offered the usual fry-up plus cereals and fruit, but the quality was good and we couldn’t resist the pastries and pancakes. Bonus points as they had jugs of oatmilk on request for those of us who don’t drink dairy. 7/10
If you’re self-catering there’s no need to cart food and drink from home. There are lots of supermarkets nearby including a huge Tesco superstore just three minutes down the road. Prices on many items – beer and wine, in particular – seemed cheaper than in the Republic.
The Marble Arch Caves are a 340 million-year-old wonder and located just 14 miles south-west of the hotel. A morning tour was well worthwhile as we marvelled at this underground Grand Canyon and its impressive superglued stalagmite. marblearchcaves.co.uk
The lodges in Killyhevlin are a fantastic getaway, offering a bit of luxury and relaxation but with the facilities of a hotel (leisure club, spa, restaurant and breakfast) – plus Enniskillen is just down the road. The vista of Lough Erne is truly special and would be a beautiful place to unwind no matter what time of year.
It’s hard not to mention the elephant in the room that is Center Parcs, which is huge competition for hotels like this in attracting families. The Longford resort offers more in terms of activities - but of course, most of these cost extra.
As for Killyhevlin, we found there was enough in the health club and surrounding area to keep our family entertained but not over-scheduled for a couple of relaxing days. 8/10
Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel & Lodges is currently running festive midweek offers from £69 per person; or weekend breaks from £175 per person sharing, valid for arrival on Fridays from December 21 to February 22.
It includes cooked breakfast, dinner on one evening and use of the Killyhevlin health club. Or enjoy a self-catering lodge stay from £212.50 per night based on a two-night minimum stay.
For more, see killyhevlin.com.
Gareth and family were guests of the hotel.