Overlooking the “Wild Atlantic Way” on the southwest coast of Ireland, the Inchydoney Lodge and Spa is an on-trend hotel, as alluring as the beaches in full view of the room balconies, dining room and patio. Go for the highly photo-worthy setting – think slubby linen and a quaint beach vibe – and stay for the enticing menu. The elegant lobby, decorated in soft cream, grey and blue linens with wood accents, reflects the surrounding seascape.
Only a short drive from Cork or Kerry airports, it feels a bit isolated, but is a natural draw for holiday makers, including surfers, paddlers and children busy with buckets, spades and sandcastles. Windsurfing regularly takes place from the wide swathe of beach in front of the hotel, and wave surfing in nearby Garylucas.
The onsite Dunes Pub and Bistro has both indoor seating or an outdoor patio with sea views. Specials feature locally caught seafood, of course –hake, seabass, and cod – as well as beef and duck from farms in the area. Eating local is strongly recommended by the Irish government and the restaurant supports nearby providers.
The menu really caught my eye, as a person with food intolerances. It included an allergen check list detailing potential allergens in every dish. If only every restaurant did this. We lingered so long over lunch in the casual and charming restaurant that it became an early dinner.
Even though it is a swish holiday area, the coastal towns are still working fishing ports. Nearby Kinsale is worth a visit for charming shops, marina, sailing and fish. A few miles east of Kinsale is Charles Fort, dating back to the 17th Century, beautifully restored, and offering a fascinating glimpse into local nautical history. It is one of two protecting Kinsale Harbour. Spend a few hours to explore and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in the stone-faced tea room with sea views. On the way back to Inchydoney, stop at Timoleague, the historical Franciscan Friary, dating back to the 12th century, with its curious ‘wart well’ (that I certainly would not want to dip my toes into). The Estuary near the Friary supports 10,000 birds that migrate there for the winter, and is designated a special conservation area.
Come once to Inchydoney and the Wild Atlantic Way, and you’ll be planning your return before you leave.