It’s January. It’s cold and wet and miserable. You have looked up flights but have no holidays to take so an overseas trip is out of the question. With no mini-breaks or holidays to look forward to you are at the edge and see no way of getting through the bleak midwinter. Do not despair, poppets for I have a fantastic weekend planned for you. Read my post on a wonderful, Westport weekend, no matter what the weather!
First things first, the west of Ireland has so many beautiful towns and villages and I am sure you could apply this weekend plan to any number of great locations along the Wild Atlantic Way. That is undisputed. I chose Westport because it is a gorgeous town with easily accessible driving routes and walks and is a culinary enclave! Famed not only for its quaint village feel and proximity to an abundance of natural beauties, Westport also has many restaurants and eateries each vying to outdo the next in the succulence of its dishes and warmth of its hospitality. This means you, the customer’s appetite can be satiated in a number of excellent establishments.
Rightio so. Here’s the plan. Jump in the car on Friday after work and drive to Westport. Check into the 4.5 star, stunning, Knockranny House Hotel and Spa, located at the edge of town and relax in your hotel room. With deals starting from €69 pps for their classic rooms, you can’t go wrong. We upgraded to a Grand Deluxe room on our trip and it was lush! A fabulous room, with a crazy comfortable, pillow top, super king-sized bed, an oversized bathroom complete with spa bath, separate shower and twin sinks with Bose speakers (say what?!), elegant furniture, complimentary spa bathrobes, as well as the usual tea and coffee gubbins, meant our luxury weekend had started the minute we walked in the door.
A reservation at La Fougére, the in-house restaurant, was a must for us foodies. This locale has previously won best hotel restaurant in Ireland and does not disappoint. While it is pricey, €52pp not including wine, I felt it was worth every penny. The dishes were well portioned and scrumptious, the chef’s selection of amuse-bouches were so tasty and dainty and the wine pairings recommended by our waiter were delicious. Check out a sample menu here, and drool!
The dining room has views of Croagh Partick, so ask for a window seat if you can and enjoy the sunset. It only serves until 9.30pm so don’t miss out. After a delicious meal, you can just about roll yourself to the bar for live music entertainment and a few Hendricks and tonics. Obvs. At this stage, it is past your bedtime but your weekend break isn’t over yet. Drift off to sleep on your cloud bed for tomorrow is full of adventures!
I must admit, I wasn’t overly enthused by the breakfasts when I stayed, namely because there were no hash browns on the menu. And while I appreciate, hash browns are not to everyone’s taste, they are a point on which I judge a hotel’s breakfast. Not sorry. So if you fancy rolling off the cloud and heading down for brekkie, be my guest.
I chose to pop on my bikini and fluffy robe and head downstairs to the spa. You will find me in the sauna, contemplating realistically how much would it cost to install a sauna in my own home. Seriously! I didn’t avail of the spa treatments so I can’t rant or rave about them but surely they would only add to your relaxing trip, no? After a couple of hours chill out time in the very Ancient Greek style pool area, it was time to get up and attem and explore the area.
We drove past Croagh Patrick, and thankfully it was raining so there was no chance I was going to be roped into climbing that shaley demon. However, on a clear day, I am sure it’s piles of craic. Check out this link for more info on climbing the mountain.
Any day that involves a drive in Connemara is a good day and our spin out to the Doolough Pass was no exception. The beauty of the rolling, craggy landscape is enough to ensure you are aware of your insignificance in comparison. Alright, nature, I get it, you’re picturesque. There are plenty of photo-worthy locations on your drive so feel free to stop anywhere along the road and shoo a sheep out of your shot, whilst all the while being careful not to block the road, like a jerk.
I recently read a story about the hundreds of people who died on a Famine Walk along this route in 1849 and it’s funny that the writer of this piece mentioned the double dancing rainbows because after we rounded the round from Doolough we were treated to the most vivid, sparkling double rainbows I have ever seen. If ghosts exist, I’d rather they be the rainbow kind, thanks very much!
On to the Killary Fjord, one of my favourite spots in this area and the only fjord in Ireland. Being here makes me proud that we have even a fraction of the kind of natural beauties the Scandanavians lay claim to. Plus if this spectacular fjord is a baby one, I can’t wait to see Norway’s ‘real’ ones!
We followed the road in a loop via Louisburgh and back to Westport but by now it was time for eats, so where else would you be going except to Cronin’s Sheebeen on the shore of Clew Bay. This Michelin guide recommended pub is a great warm, welcoming spot to stop for a glass of something delicious or a bite of something tasty. Check out their menu here.
At your leisure head back to the hotel for a nap-I am a firm believer in the restorative power of napping- or take a walk into Westport for a pre-dinner stroll. Take your time to chill out and relax before the taste bud tingling dinner is going to bring. Let me steer you towards The Pantry and Corkscrew, if I may.
This unassuming exterior hides one of the most talented kitchen staff in the town, in my opinion. The staff are so friendly and helpful and have a great rapport with the customers. The food was exquisite and I am sorry to say I have no photographs to show you because I was too busy enjoying every mouth watering bite. Soz. Do check out their menu online and make sure to make a reservation as it is a little short on space inside. Early bird menus from 5:30-6:30 include 2 courses with tea and coffee for €20. A steal! I hope they have the putóg starter on the menu when you visit because they are divine. And the sea trout. Oh yum, the sea trout. The entire menu was brimming with incredibly succulent dishes.
If you have any energy left after your day of fun take time out to enjoy one of the many bars Westport has on offer. We found ourselves in a jam-packed Matt Molloy’s – who doesn’t, says you! With enough ‘vintage’ memorabilia to quench the nostalgia thirst of any hipster or touristy American!
Back to the hotel for a night cap or a large glass or three of water and off to dreamland you go.
It’s Sunday but don’t let the fear set in just yet. Yes, you may be leaving this blissful town and all it has to offer behind but a drive to Galway before you head home will help to prolong your holiday buzz and a peek in the shops to reward yourself for a fun staycation weekend may even be an option!
Obviously, my thoughts are never far from my stomach and we ate at the gorgeous Artisan on Quay Street. From our dainty table overlooking the thoroughfare, we watched all life passing by from the comfort of our window seats. The locally sourced, fresh ingredients in the ham hock sandwich and wild Connemara risotto will have you raving about this boutique eatery for days afterward. Lush.
And soon my lovelies it was time to drive home with full bellies and happy hearts. Ireland has so much to offer staycation weekenders. Discover your own getaway retreats and share in the comments below, I can’t wait to find more treasure troves like this to spend my weekends reminiscing about!
But I hear you cry, this has cost me the bones of €500 and I could have gone abroad for that. Yes, yes I see your point, BUT now you know of a resplendent hotel with an incredible restaurant and bar, complete with a relaxing, tranquil spa and talented staff. All of this is complete with views of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick. None of which is far from a little town of bustling nightlife and exquisite foodie hotspots. Plus Galway is always worth a visit and only a hop, skip and a jump away. AND all of this is right here in Ireland. Holiday at home and know that your own getaway spot is never too far away and you don’t even have to pay baggage fees!