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Image / Living / Travel

This former Georgian pharmacy overlooking the Irish Sea has been revived as the sweetest staycation spot


by Lauren Heskin
17th Jun 2021

Photo: Elaine Hill Photography

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Overlooking the bay in the middle of Donaghadee town is boutique B&B, One Shore Street. Beautifully restored and perfectly snug, it's the ideal base for exploring the Ards Peninsula

As you come into Donaghadee town, you can smell the seaweed and salt in the air but there’s no peek of ocean blue just yet. Turn a corner, and there it is, just one street over. You may be so distracted by the floating quay wall in the fishing harbour or the view onto the Copeland Islands and Scotland beyond, that you miss the understated navy building on the seafront, its period glass shopfront elegantly draped in gauzy white fabric. 

Photo: Elaine Hill Photography

This is One Shore Street, the address and name of Karen and John Bolleboom’s luxurious boutique bed and breakfast. The Georgian shop front, once the entrance to Louden’s chemist in 1860, now makes for a bright and airy dining room, with the waves nearly licking the main entrance on the seaside. Upstairs, five individually designed bedrooms offer incredible sea views and beautiful finishes, from the snuggliest beds to the most considered interior design that complements the building’s architectural heritage while making it feel homely and modern. 

Simple design finishes in one of the bedrooms. Photo: Elaine Hill Photography

Completed in late 2018, the building had previously been derelict for 15 years and it took a significant amount of work to return the house to its seaside glory. Though the building is not listed, it does form part of the heritage centre of Donaghadee and was eligible for a grant, explains Karen. The grant imposed tight restrictions on the restoration, “namely that the building had to retain its external character and all period features internally had to be retained and restored.” The shopfront was kept, all the windows replaced with timber sash design typical of the 1800s, the staircase was almost completely rebuilt and the roof relaid in Bangor Blue slate.

Now, awash with blues and greys and perfectly lit by wintery sunlight on the day we visit, it’s apparent Karen has an eye for interiors too. Living in London for twenty years, Karen really wanted to draw in and enhance the building’s already spectacular sea views. “I have an interest in interiors and period properties and felt there was very little in this part of the world that combined style, laid back luxury, sea views and character all in one place.”

The view from one of the bedrooms

Combining a simple, Scandinavian aesthetic with the ornate period details, interior wood panelling is washed in a matt white, deep window seats allow the well-proportioned windows to frame the views, detailed cornicing and door frames are offset with sharp lines of white marble and mid-century modern lighting. Accessories here are minimal, yet well-considered.

The Skagerak wardrobe and French sliding doors into the en suite. Photo: Elaine Hill Photography

“Guests ask all the time where we got the wardrobes in the bedrooms. They are really minimal but functional and are by a Danish brand Skagerak,” says Karen. And you can see why – they’re architectural and yet space-efficient, like the rest of the furniture in each room. “The original beehive door handles and old-fashioned toggle light switches are very popular too,” she laughs.

Photo: Elaine Hill Photography

All the bathrooms have been finished to an immaculate, swanky-hotel standard. My en suite faced onto the sea and was partially frosted so it felt private yet from the shower you had a perfect view onto Donaghadee lighthouse. If you’re lucky enough to get the room with the free-standing nickel-coated copper bath, I would suggest planning your day around a good soak, it’s that beautiful. Even if you missed out, it’s worth asking for a peek inside the palatial bathroom. 

Morning light slicing through the dining room. Photo: Elaine Hill Photography

After a blissful night’s sleep, breakfast the next morning was laid out on the central table, a range of local produce including award-winning vanilla yoghurt from Clanyeboyne Estate, sourdough bread from Knead & Prove in Bangor and honey from nearby Summerhill. Streaked in sunlight, we sat enjoying breakfast and the last few peeks of the view before heading out for one last shore street walk before heading home.

A pretty, perfect escape to the Ards Peninsula.

You can book your stay at One Shore Street here. Rooms start from £140 per night but hurry, availability is limited

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