From ancient towers and off-grid bothies to historic townhouses and sprawling country estates – every night can be special in ‘Norn Iron’.
It would be a mistake to only see Northern Ireland, the holiday destination, as the home of Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones locations. Both are excellent reasons to visit, but there are also rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, rocky coves and dramatic mountains – as well as great food, bars, cafes and famous hospitality. Whether you hole up in Belfast for a week or spend your time on the road, you’ll find good people and good times. The only real question is where to stay? Here are a few ideas for those who like to lay their head somewhere a little different.
If you like sleeping in a bubble you might be the kind of person who’d also enjoy kipping in a tipi. With traditional Native American design, this soaring 18ft (5.5m) glamping experience offers the chance to live out one of your childhood fantasies. Sleep on cosy sheepskins, roast marshmallows on the firepit and wake up surrounded by glorious green. It’s not all low-octane fun though, with the chance to go riding, cycling, go-karting, abseiling or mountain biking on the doorstep. Nearby you’ve also got Markethill, with independent shops and eateries galore, and Gosford Forest Park, a favourite with walkers and mountain bikers. If the tipi life doesn’t do it for you, fear not, the site also offers a shepherd’s hut, Gypsy caravan or log cabin.
A few caveats to mention before you book this one. You can’t reach it by land, so you have to be an experienced canoeist (or have an expert guide with you) to get here, as the closest access point is on the North Coast Sea Kayak Trail at Dunseverick Harbour. There’s no mains water or electricity, although there’s a stream that flows through the site – but don’t drink out of that because sheep drink from it – so water is very limited. You should bring your own cooking equipment, firewood, loo roll and pretty much everything else you might want or need. Oh and there’s no bedlinen or mattresses. However. Eight people can stay here, on the breathtaking Causeway Coast, and if you do pluck up the courage (and pack wisely), it’ll be the undoubted highlight of your trip. Terrifying and alluring at the same time.
After a night or two off-grid with your canoe you’ll be on the lookout for some serious luxury. Roe Park Resort, which sits on 155 acres (63ha) of scenic parkland, is the country-house estate for you. Head straight to the Elemis spa, where you’ll find a pool, spa bath and sauna, plus a delightful menu of treatments. There’s a terrific golf course, great restaurants and, if you’re part of a larger group, there’s the option of staying in one of the traditional country house lodges. For a decadent denouement, it doesn’t get better than this.
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