Driving through the glorious Bluestack mountains on the way to Lough Eske Castle, you can not help but be impressed by the location. Nestling right next to Lough Eske in County Donegal, the castle is situated close to Donegal Town and is surrounded by 43-acres of forest woodland. As county Donegal’s only five-star hotel, any prior concerns that the 15th Century building would be ostentatious or worse, in need of some renovation, were soon put to rest. After all, wining numerous awards that include being chosen as one of Condé Nast’s top three luxury Ireland hotels means that they must be doing something right. Other awards include Ulster Wedding Venue of the Year 2017, Luxury Hotel of the Year 2017, and Travellers Choice Award 2016.
Dating back to the 1400’s, there is clearly a lot of history to the castle and restorations over the centuries do not diminish from the original features. Real fires burn in the reception rooms and add to the relaxed feeling of tranquility. The staff expertly merge the best bits of Irish hospitality and genuine friendliness with American-style service levels and good attention to detail.
With the weather hampering any initial plans to explore the local area on the first day we made the tough decision to relax and have a spot of lunch in the Gallery Bar. I plumped for the Macroon Irish Buffalo Mozzarella Salad which was presented with a generous portion of soft dewy mozzarella. My partner decided to task himself with trying the Donegal Porter Glazed Beef Burger which was, in his words, one of the best burgers he had ever tasted. Washed down with Guinness (it always tastes so much better in Ireland) it was the perfect start to our stay. Talking of drinks, the drinks menu was a whiskey drinkers paradise with 6 pages dedicated to whiskey alone, and the whiskey cabinet was a sight to behold, paying homage to Ireland’s finest tipples along with other global brands.
Heading off to our room which was to be home for the next couple of days, we stayed in one of the deluxe rooms which, at around 500 square feet, had enough space for even the most luggage-laden traveller. You could sink into the four poster bed and watch the snow fall on the mountain range in total peace and quiet.
Dinnertime soon came around and we went down to the Cedars restaurant. Again the service could not be faulted, much like the quality of the food. I started off with The Beetroot which was a beetroot shaped piece of goats cheese covered in a beetroot gel with a chocolate stalk. This was followed by Wild Mushrooms Fiochetti. My partner opted for the Smoked Salmon Chowder which was Donegal smoked salmon, with dillisk, chive and a lemon cream cheese profiterole and went on to Irish lamb. It was all impeccably cooked and presented with the general mealtime performance of stating “wow this tastes fantastic” continuing throughout the sitting.
The following day it was spa time. The Spa Solis looks out onto the castle gardens and boasts a thermal suite with a steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna which were all on my to-do list following my facial. Again the attention to detail was evident when discussing my skin and requirements. Using Yonka products, the feelings of bliss reached new levels as I relaxed post-treatment with a herbal tea and fruit selection kindly provided by my therapist.
The spa also offers Touch Therapy treatments which are specialist spa treatments for cancer patients. Therapists receive full training and treatments are unique to the individual. Oncology massage uses established massage techniques modified to the individual’s medical situation. These massage adaptations could include session length, pressure, positioning and areas of specific compromise or concern like mediports, bone metastases or skin reactions to treatment. The feedback from clients is phenomenal with previous clients noting increased feelings of well-being and decreased anxiety.
Fully refreshed, we spotted a gap in the weather and took the opportunity to head out for a walk around the grounds with a detour to view the loch before heading back to the comfort of the castle.
The third day and third attempt to sightsee was slightly hampered by the icy gales blowing off Donegal Bay so back to the airport we went tucking into airport sandwiches before we got too used to the five-star treatment.
Special offers abound at Lough Eske Castle for foodies and spa-lovers alike. The full list is here and also includes a number of seasonal offers such as for Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day.
For further enquiries either complete the contact form, call the reservations team on +353 7497 25100 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org.