BY TIM HEDGLEY, TRAVEL EDITOR
I went to the Solis Lough Eske Castle shortly after it opened and each time it gets better and better.
I suppose like a bottle of red wine from Bergerac, it is clearly improving with age and experience, and it was great the first time I went.
The Solis Lough Eske Castle & Spa is a quality five star castle hotel located on a beautiful lakeside location just outside Donegal town in the North west of Ireland. With a rich history dating back to the 1400s, the hotel is closely associated to the famous O’Donnell Clan, the founding fathers of Donegal.
Lough Eske is a very imposing historic building set in a storybook location, which delivers superior hospitality, comfort and service and wraps it up with superb friendly service with a smile.
If you want a wonderful location, for some “chill out time” or “me time”, then there is no better place. I visited a couple of weeks ago and was given a deluxe room.
Typically 46 square meters or approximately 500 sq ft in size, their deluxe guestrooms are finished to the highest of 5 star standards with bespoke oak furniture and deep pile carpets throughout.
Warm neutral tones reflect the peaceful surroundings of the forest and lake that surround the castle. All rooms have a 32 inch flat screen TV, refreshment centre, built in cedar wardrobes with a digital lock safe, WiFi connectivity and dual voltage sockets.
My bathroom had marble tiling throughout, a double basin vanity unit, with granite top, a built in bath and separate glazed shower with monsoon showerhead and toilet compartment. Cosy under floor heating, luxury robes and slippers just tops it off nicely.
If you are looking to impress, maybe you have a special occasion, you want to treat your partner or just say “I love you”, then the Solis Lough Eske, is sure to please.
As part of the outstanding service in the hotel, my chambermaid just happened to be servicing my room when I popped back to collect my mobile phone, I just mentioned in passing as I left the room, that the Cafetiere was a great idea and the coffee was lovely. Now I just mentioned it literally as I walked out of my room.
You can imagine my delight when I returned that afternoon to discover my maid had left a small handwritten note, asking me to enjoy the extra sachets of coffee she had left for me.
Now that is not good service, its excellent service!
This attention to detail is rarely found in hotels and it just goes to show the level of training the staff clearly get. And the longer you stay in the hotel the more you realise all the staff think that way, and they are clearly delighted to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. That’s what five star service is all about.
A quick look at the Trip advisor website says it all really.
“Our 2 night stay wasn’t nearly long enough. Beautiful grounds and fabulous hotel. You felt like royalty staying there. Great Irish breakfast each day. I would stay there a week!
That response does really sum up this amazing Irish Castle experience. But it gets better, Lough Eske Castle is the only Irish hotel to claim a World Luxury Hotel Award and has won the World’s Best Luxury Country Hotel title for the past FOUR consecutive years (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009).
It has also been named No. 1 Hotel in Ireland by MyGuideIreland; voted Wedding Venue of the Year 2010 & 2011 and Castle Venue of the Year 2009/2012 and wedding coordinator of the year 2012 by Ireland’s largest wedding website: Weddingsonline.ie.
Lough Eske Castle has also been recognised among the World’s Best Castle Hotels by global travel expert Stephanie Abrams and is the only five star hotel in County Donegal, Ireland.
So you would think with all those accolades they would sit on their laurels, well awards, but no as they have just won the 2013 Tattler Spa award as well.
And I can tell you its richly deserved. The pampering experience is indeed world class.
At the Spa the concept of the traditional spa break in Ireland transcends mere manicures, facials, or massages.
Instead, they focus on a total wellness experience. Luxurious treatment rooms complemented by impeccable service and highly trained staff make the Spa a “must visit” add to that long walks through mystical woodlands or moments of quiet reflection in a secluded garden; a gourmet meal, featuring the freshest local ingredients, accompanied by a great bottle of wine and you really do have the perfect recipe for a great time away.
So I have covered the beautiful, surrounding, amazing scenery superb accommodation and amazing spa, the only thing left is to wax lyrical about the food and once again they do not disappoint.
Every meal prepared in Lough Eske is carefully crafted under the supervision of Nicholas Le Toumellin their Head Chef.
Born in 1978 in Perros Guirec, a tiny fishing village in Brittany, Nicolas has always been passionate about food.
By the time he was 18, he was already in London working with world-renowned chef Pascal Proyart. Seeking inspiration from other corners of the world, Le Toumelin accepted the position of head chef Jumeirah resort in Dubai.
A chance meeting with Adrian Jossa in Dubai brought Le Toumelin back to France and then on to Lough Eske. Le Toumelin’s inspiration is to work with the finest local produce and in the simplest way possible, to maximize flavour, often tracking down the best producers available.
He mastery of cuisine is truly delightful, flavours fill your mouth and explode like popping candy. It matters not if you are eating in room or in Cedars Grill Restaurant or the Gallery and Oak Bars. You meal is guaranteed to be amazing.
With all that great food and drink if you are inclined you might want to shift a pound or two and have some great fun as well.
On my last visit I was able to take part in some fun and games with the teambuilding experts www.adventuredonegal.com. OMG! what an action packed three hours we had with them, superb fun.
*Do you have one of the top charming Donegal ancestral family names?
If so, 2013 is your year! As part of the Gathering 2013, Lough Eske Castle, is inviting you home to rediscover your ancestral roots with an exclusive 50% discount throughout the entire year!
Lough Eske Castle would like to invite all guests with the following ancestral last names to return to Donegal for the year-long celebration and make use of this extra special discount.
So don’t say you weren’t asked !