Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside
We’ve fished out 10 of the best briny hotels, perfect for a healthy dose of salty sea air
O’Carrolls Cove, near Waterville Co Kerry. Photograph: Frank Miller
Inis Meain Restaurant and Suites, Inishmaan, Aran Islands
Cliff House Hotel Ardmore
Kelly’s Hotel, Wexford
View of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula from Ballyroom Mountain in Co Cork. Photograph: Getty images
Let the sun set on Connemara
Sundowners just aren’t the same without a sunset behind them, and preferably a sea. So pull up a chair, sit back and enjoy the display at the Ardagh, a boutique coastal hotel at the edge of Ardbear Bay, in the heart of Connemara. The views are spectacular and, like all seascapes, pretty much impervious to weather – the worse the weather the more dramatic the sea. The hotel is two miles from Clifden but most guests seem to like to book in and chill out, simply soaking up the panorama. It’s very relaxing and the food is great, with a suitable emphasis on fresh seafood. If you feel like swimming it’s a 10-minute drive from Dog’s Bay. Pay an extra tenner for a sea view room and leave your curtains open for the night – assuming you’re not on the ground floor that is. Overnight B&B stays from €82.50 pps midweek in June.
Life is suite on Inis Meáin
Ruairí and Marie-Thérèse de Blacam’s Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites is not so much a sea-side hotel as a sea-surround. Though actually, it’s not a hotel either. It’s a restaurant that just happens to have beautiful suites with which to reward those who make the effort to get to this tiny island. Stay for two- or four-day packages and make the most of the bicycle, binoculars and fishing rods you’ll find in each suite. There’s a knapsack too, to hold the packed lunch included each day. And the beaches are perfect for picnics. “Even last summer, during all the amazingly hot weather, you could still find totally deserted beaches and have them all to yourself here,” says Marie-Thérèse. Two day B&B packages start at €440 for two.
Picture yourself in Donegal
Some of us are very particular about our sea views. Water alone is not enough. To really engage, it has to have some land in the frame – preferably cliffs or an island. Arnolds Hotel in Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal, hits the mark because it looks out across Sheepshaven Bay and the golden sands of Killahoey Beach to the wilds of Horn Head. It’s idyllic – the only problem, according to owner Gerarda Arnold, is that it’s so beautiful up here that it’s nigh on impossible not to spend your time taking pictures of it all. Her own favourite view is of Lucky Shell Beach, just up the road behind the Capuchin friary at Ards. But if what you really like to do is ride beside the seaside, Arnold’s is perfect too, there’s a stables next door. Two nights B&B plus dinner from €147 per person sharing midweek.
Seascapes of the sunny south east
For Sorrento-style glamour on the south-east coast, head for the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford, preferably in a 1950s’ convertible and a headscarf. If there were Michelin stars for sea views, this hotel would have one. All of its luxury rooms and suites – it’s a five-star property – look out over the water so you can rest your eyes on the sands, watch the lobster pots bobbing and the dolphins playing, practically from your bed. Mind you, given that the tyre company has given its (rubber) stamp of approval to the hotel’s restaurant, dragging yourself away from the window shouldn’t be too much of a wrench. Two night midweek breaks, including dinner in the bar restaurant, from €450 based on two sharing.