Whether you’re looking for a stopover as you cruise the Wild Atlantic Way or a base to explore the northernmost county in Ireland, there’s a hotel in Donegal for you. Options range from a five-star castle to a fishing lodge built in the 1800s. Here are the best hotels in Donegal – all bookable on Culture Trip.
Slap bang in the middle of Donegal, the Abbey Hotel is minutes from coastal drives and uncrowded beaches. As a certified member of the Donegal Food Coast Initiative, the popular Market House restaurant is a must – order the steak on a stone for a prime Irish beef fillet that cooks at your table. The hotel is also one of the most popular wedding venues in town, having hosted thousands of nuptials over the years.
A family-run guesthouse marrying hotel facilities with the attention-to-detail of a quaint B&B, Gateway Lodge is a home from home, just two minutes’ walk from town. Resident Blas restaurant is best-known for its award-winning breakfasts, where you can tuck into everything from pancakes topped with syrup, berries and bacon to a traditional Irish feast of pork sausages, fried eggs, black pudding, toast and fried tomato.
Tucked away among 40 acres (16ha) of mature woodland and gardens, the much-lauded five-star Lough Eske Castle has plenty of privacy. Grand staircases, sculptures and baronial furnishings all pay homage to the rich history of the castle, while bedrooms are delightfully modern with smart bathrooms and 40in flatscreen TVs. Don’t leave without passing by the spa, where you can relax to views of the estate gardens. Itchy feet? Surfing, horse-riding, golf and more can be arranged.
If you’ve come to Ireland to celebrate the great outdoors, you’ll be hard pushed to find a location more fabulous than the Sandhouse Hotel. Built as a fishing lodge in the 1830s, this sanctuary of relaxation is perched right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, so be sure to pick a sea-view room – the higher you go, the better the vista. Golf and fishing are available in the immediate area, but if you’re looking to relax, try a seaweed soak at the Marine Spa in the hotel.
On the scene for more than 80 years, Highlands Hotel is a favourite with locals, and considered the best place to stay in Donegal if you’re looking for a true Irish experience. Decor is traditional rather than fashionable, and service is impeccable – a member of the Boyle family, who owns the hotel, is almost always on hand to help with any special requests. The best bit? Dogs are welcome, so you can take your furry friend along for the ride.
Set amid the spectacular Northern Headlands of the Wild Atlantic Way, Lake of Shadows Hotel is right on the beach of Lough Swilly should you dare to brave the icy waters. Following a snooze in the cosy rooms, tuck into a cooked-to-order breakfast made from local, seasonal produce, before heading out for a round of golf and an exploration of the nearby scenic routes.
Bring your golf clubs when you book a room at the Redcastle, there’s a nine-hole parkland course to hack your way around. However, this seaside stay on the western shores of Lough Foyle is not just for golf lovers. It’s within easy reach of shops, historical landmarks, beaches, walks and pubs galore. Ask for a window table at the Edge restaurant and dine on locally sourced cuisine with sea views.
From the relaxing open fire and grand piano in the lobby to the plush suites, everything about this elegant hotel screams sophistication. Known nationwide for its exquisite cuisine, the popular restaurant here is housed in a 150-year-old converted church, with many of the natural features still intact. From locally caught salmon to Irish beef, almost all produce is sourced within a few miles of the hotel. Feel like feasting? Add the mammoth five-course Sunday carvery to your agenda.
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