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Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel & Spa 5.0

Donegal, Ireland

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Gorgeous historic castle set on beautiful grounds on the shores of Lake Eske
  • Lovely interiors mix traditional Old World furnishings with contemporary design
  • Spacious, tastefully appointed rooms and suites, and luxurious bathrooms with walk-in rainfall showers and soaking tubs
  • Full-service spa housed in a Victorian Glass House in the gardens
  • Infinity pool, plus sauna, steam room, ice fountain, and spa
  • Two bars and a restaurant serving locally sourced food
  • Fitness center with an array of cardio- and weight-training equipment
  • Pet-friendly rooms available
  • Several meeting rooms, and wedding facilities
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Not within walking distance of any sights
  • No air-conditioning in the rooms

Bottom Line

The five-pearl Lough Eske Castle is a beautiful and luxurious hotel that sits on the shores of its namesake lake, surrounded by sprawling grounds and gardens. A secluded countryside retreat (though a short drive to Donegal), the property includes a renowned spa housed in the lovely Victorian Glass House where guests can indulge in a bout of pampering and use the sauna, steam room, fitness center, or infinity pool with views of the gardens. The hotel's restaurant uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including seafood from nearby Killybegs. Tastefully decorated rooms are large, as are the luxurious bathrooms with walk-in showers and soaking tubs, but not air-conditioned. The nearby Harvey’s Point Hotel is also on the lake and has slightly lower rates, but is not as luxurious as Lough Eske Castle, and does not have spa or pool.

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Scene

Beautiful, luxurious castle set on sprawling wooded grounds on the shores of Lake Eske

A sweeping drive through bucolic woodlands culminates at a Tudor-style castle set on 43 acres of lush, forested grounds. Named after the lake whose shores it sits on, the Lough Eske Castle is a cream-colored gem with a grand tower and regal crenellations adorning its roof like a crown. The castle is surrounded by gardens, manicured lawns, and woodlands, and makes for a tranquil countryside retreat where guests can engage in a variety of outdoor activities or indulge in a bout of pampering at the spa. Originally built in 1474 by the O’Donnell clan who founded the nearby town of Donegal, the current castle was constructed in the 1860s (later partially destroyed by a fire), and was most recently restored to its current incarnation, which includes a new addition at the back of the building, in 2007. Interiors mix traditional and contemporary design; an Old World feel is injected but with modern comforts. There large oil paintings in gilded frames hanging throughout, wood paneling, antique pieces, rich Oriental rugs, and stone fireplaces, but these are balanced by contemporary pieces and light and airy spaces, which give the common areas a fresh, bright, and elegant, look. Unlike other properties of this type, which can sometimes come off a bit stuffy, the atmosphere here is cozy and homey.

Location

Located on the shores of Lough Eske and surrounded by 43 acres of grounds; a short drive from Donegal

Secluded but not too off-the-beaten-path, the Lough Eske Castle is off the N15 and the Wild Atlantic Way, situated on 43 acres of grounds on the shores of Lough Eske. Though there’s not much within walking distance besides the grounds and lovely wooded trails meandering throughout, the town of Donegal is an eight-minute drive away. There, travelers will find several restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as beautiful Donegal Bay beaches. Some sights in the area worthy of a visit are the gorgeous sea cliffs at Slieve League (about an hour's drive), Glenveagh National Park with its castle (also an hour away), and the picturesque towns and villages along the coast of the Donegal Bay. The Donegal Golf Club is about 25 minutes away. The Belfast International Airport is two hours and 20 minutes away, and the Dublin Airport can be reached in about three hours.

Rooms

Spacious, well-appointed rooms and suites with luxurious bathrooms

There are a variety of rooms available at the Lough Eske Castle, ranging from Deluxe Rooms to Courtyard Rooms in the converted stables to several different types of suites. Decor varies, but all rooms are comfortable and tastefully appointed with traditional touches mixed with contemporary design and a soft color palette.

All the large rooms have flat-screen TVs, work desks, free Wi-Fi, tea- and coffee-making facilities, fluffy bathrobes and slippers, as well as sitting areas that include comfortable armchairs or couches, or larger living room areas in the suites. Bathrooms are large and luxurious, with both walk-in rainfall showers and soaking tubs, as well as double basin vanity units. The pet-friendly Courtyard Rooms and Garden Suites can be reached directly from the outdoors. Note that the rooms are not air-conditioned. 

Features

Full-service spa with sauna, steam room, and infinity pool, fitness center, restaurant and two bars, plus meeting rooms and event space

The hotel’s award-winning luxurious Spa Solis is located in the gardens in the sunlit Victorian Glass House, and offers a wide list of treatments, including massages, aromatherapy, facials, and manicures. There are seven treatment rooms and a thermal suite with an ice fountain, sauna, steam room, sanarium, tropical experience showers, as well as a lovely infinity pool with views over the gardens. The fitness center is equipped with an array of cardio- and weight-training machines.

The hotel’s restaurant, Cedars Grill, serves traditional dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including fresh seafood from the nearby port town of Killybegs, and has a lovely outdoor terrace. There are two bars, the Oak Bar, which regularly hosts traditional Irish music sessions, and the Gallery Bar and Lobby Lounge, which serves light fare such as burgers and Donegal Bay oysters. Afternoon tea is served in the Drawing Rooms and Lobby Lounge.

There are several meeting rooms, event spaces, and wedding facilities at the castle, including a ballroom that can accommodate up to 400 people. There are a range of outdoor activities on the estate and in the surrounding areas, including fishing on Lough Eske. Guests can smoke their catch at the on-site smokehouse. Free bikes are provided, and are a great way to explore the local trails. Free tours of the castle and grounds are given every morning.

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Address

Lough Eske, Donegal Town, Ireland

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