Best hotel restaurants: 16 places to add to your Irish staycation bucket list
02nd Aug 2021
Several factors come into consideration when booking a trip away, but dining options are top of the list for us, and these hotels all deliver with their onsite restaurants.
The vast majority of us have spent the past six months confined to our homes, with daily walks the only reprieve to lockdown life. We’ve wandered down every winding laneway, peeked down every abandoned cul de sac and visited just about every café within a 5km radius – exhausting every avenue in the quest to cure our restlessness.
Hope was waning, but thankfully, we can say that that’s no longer the case and restrictions eased just in time for us all to make the most of the (at times) glorious Irish summer.
There are many things we’ve missed about our pre-pandemic lives – hugging friends, visiting loved ones and office chit-chat with colleagues amongst them. But indoor dining deserves special mention. The luxury of enjoying a meal in one of our favourite hotels or restaurants is one we’ve all missed dearly and we’re positively giddy at the thought of being welcomed inside once more.
Renowned for our winning Irish charm, there’s no shortage of gorgeous hotels to choose from but below are just a few of the places with top-notch eateries that we can’t wait to return to.
Oliveto’s at Haddington House, Co Dublin
Affording diners some of the best views of Dún Laoghaire Harbour, Oliveto’s at Haddington House is always a great choice for weary walkers fresh in from a walk along the pier. Specialising in Italian food, their menu centres around straightforward but delicious pizza and pasta – the holy grail of Mediterranean dining. The hotel itself has enjoyed a rejuvenation in recent years and now it’s a chic and sleek spot to rest your head.
The Owenmore Restaurant at Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway
One of Ireland’s finest luxury castle hotels, Ballynahinch was voted the sixth-best resort hotel in Ireland and the UK by Travel & Leisure and third in Ireland by Condé Nast. Known for its cultured and local culinary experience, The Owenmore Restaurant overlooks the salmon river with the walls adorned with artwork from the likes of Gerard Dillon, Louis le Brocquay, Jack Yeats and Mary Swanzy amongst others.
The Wild Honey Inn, Co Clare
Ireland’s only Michelin starred dining pub, The Wild Honey Inn pours love into all they do – and their menu is testament to this. Serving seasonal dishes inspired by the surrounding landscape, their ethos is simple – “wild food from land and sea”. Offering all of the characteristic warmth you’d expect of a homely country inn and boutique hotel, it’s also perfectly located for a day trip to The Burren and Cliffs of Moher, both of which are nearby.
The Dining Room at Gregans Castle, Co Clare
Another Clare hotel, the Dining Room at Gregans Castle is revered for its fine dining experience and has been awarded several culinary honours over the years – including the RAI Best Hotel & Guesthouse Restaurant in 2019. A glass of wine from their extensive (and ever-expanding) wine list will really help you settle into “holiday mode”.
Ballyvolane House, Co Cork
Head south and make for Ballyvolane House, where you’ll be met with the Rebel County’s finest welcome. Very much in favour of the “slow food” movement, products are largely sourced from the country house’s own walled gardens. Staff rear their own rare-breed pigs and you’re likely to spot 30 happy hens scratching around the back too. They also make their own gin, Bertha’s Revenge, so don’t pass up on the cocktail menu either.
The Duck Restaurant at Marlfield House, Co Wexford
Formal or casual dining, Marlfield House has both so you can choose on the night whatever takes your fancy. Opt for the latter and you’ll be shown to The Duck Restaurant. Set within some of the hotel’s restored courtyard buildings (including a coach house, potting shed and gardener’s tool shed), it is equal parts cosy and comfortable.
Ahernes Restaurant, Ahernes, Co Cork
Famed for their seafood, Ahernes build their menu around the locality’s fresh produce – with the finest fish from that day’s catch in Youghal harbour always included. Also recognised as one of the country’s most romantic restaurants, it’s the ideal spot for your first proper post-lockdown date night.
The Strand Inn in Dunmore East, Co Waterford
Already with an enviable reputation, The Strand Inn has built its success off the back of its tasty food options… which of course centres on all that the surrounding seaside has to offer. Fervent supporters of local farmers, their menu reflects that and a spot of breakfast in the sunshine-filled dining room will set you up for a day of exploring.
The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, Co Limerick
Described as “a destination in itself”, The Mustard Seed restaurant is blessed with a beautiful vegetable garden from which head chef Angel Pirev carefully creates his menus. Masters of atmosphere, no detail is missed from pressed white table linen to freshly-picked flowers. An excellent choice for dog lovers too as the hotel has pet-friendly rooms, especially for their canine friends.
The Cook & Gardener at Rathmullan House, Co Donegal
A four-star country house hotel set in one of Donegal’s most picturesque corners, there are two award-winning restaurants onsite to choose from. Lunch in Batt’s Bar is always a treat though little compares to an evening meal in The Cook & Gardener. Championing local suppliers, their menu changes regularly and caters to practically all dietary requirements.
Lady Helen dining room at Mount Juliet Estate, Co Kilkenny
If it’s a little bit of luxury you’re after, then the Lady Helen dining room of The Manor House at Juliet Estate is exactly what the doctor ordered. Every dish is personally overseen by executive head chef John Kelly and the menu reflects an “intense commitment” to traditional flavours but also more adventurous instincts too.
Blake’s at The Heritage, Co Laois
Home to miles and miles of unspoilt greenery, Co Laois is often overlooked when it comes to planning a quick getaway. The Heritage makes a convincing case as to why it shouldn’t be though. As does Blake’s, the hotel’s onsite restaurant which is headed up by executive head chef Ian Clifford. Afternoon Tea in The Galleria is also a must before you leave. The height of notions, but there’s nothing wrong with indulging your fancier side from time to time.
Cullen’s at the Cottage at Ashford Castle, Co Galway
The only Irish hotel to be included on the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide five-star ranking list for 2021, it’s the second consecutive year that Ashford Castle has made the cut. Boasting several different food options, Cullen’s at the Cottage – found within a traditional thatched cottage – provides a relaxed dining experience that is the perfect prelude to an evening stroll around the grounds.
Yew Tree Restaurant at Muckross Park Hotel & Spa, Co Kerry
Unsurprisingly, The Kingdom has always come tops with tourists – both international and domestic – and with hotels such as Muckross Park dotted around the county, it’s not hard to see why. Perched right in the heart of Killarney National Park, the five-star hotel and spa is also where you’ll find the award-winning Yew Tree Restaurant. Winners of two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence, it’s also been recognised as Best Restaurant on the Wild Atlantic Way by Hotell & Catering, so you’ll be in good hands there.
Ice House Restaurant at Ice House Hotel, Co Mayo
A four-star hotel tucked away in north Mayo along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Ice House Hotel is perched right on the banks of the River Moy. Blissfully quiet, the views come second only to the food which includes seafood, steak, poultry and vegetarian options.
The Mill Restaurant at The Cliff at Lyons, Kildare
As they were only open for a brief two weeks in December before restaurant doors were closed nationally, this June marks the first opportunity for many to sample the exciting new dining option on The Cliff at Lyons estate – The Mill Restaurant. Sean Smith, formerly head chef at sister property The Cliff Townhouse in Dublin is now at The Mill, so you can expect his signature star touch with shellfish and seafood. The room itself is airy and impressive with huge double-height ceilings and windows that open on to the terrace beside the mill race and waterfall. The outdoor terrace, which seats 30, will open first to Irish diners this June, promising spectacular views and even better food, so get your booking in fast.
We can’t wait to explore hidden pockets of our little country once again.
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