Ardtara Country House & Restaurant is an elegant base for exploring all that the north coast of Northern Ireland has to offer …
Romance has not been top of anyone’s agenda during lockdown. And if you’re hoping to pamper someone special, or crave privacy and impeccable service then Ardtara Country House & Restaurant is sure to pass muster. Tucked away in ten acres of woodland, Ardtara is an elegant 19th-century mansion in?the heart of Northern Ireland. The nine-bedroom hotel, just 45 minutes from both Belfast and Derry, retains the feel of a private house while offering the best amenities.
The hotel has an impressive history being the former home of Victorian adventurer and linen baron Harry Jackson Clark. In fact, Ardtara was built to celebrate romance. Clark started building Ardtara in 1894, but it was partly blown down by a storm. However, the main part of the house was complete in time for his wedding in February 1896. These auspicious romantic beginnings are cemented by its current credentials. Ardtara has won numerous awards for “best accommodation” and “best restaurant” in Northern Ireland. Comfort and cuisine are its key attractions.
Tastefully decorated with antique and contemporary furnishings, the downstairs drawing room and bar have plenty of big comfy sofas for lounging, while the baby grand piano in the entrance sustains the private house vibe. As for the restaurant, it is housed in the former billiard room, where the chef-patron Ian Orr consistently serves exquisite food with an emphasis on using seasonal local produce as well as fruit, vegetables and herbs?from the hotel’s gardens. There’s also a casual lounge menu, sumptuous afternoon teas and a superb Sunday lunch, in addition to dinner (the team change the dinner menu daily).
For more adventurous guests, Ardtara is close to the epicentre of things to see and do in Northern Ireland.? Within easy driving distance is the Giant’s Causeway, the Antrim coast, Royal Portrush Golf Club and many Game of Thrones film locations, including the Dark Hedges (pictured above). The river Bann offers game and coarse fishing, with salmon, trout and pike attracting amateur and professional anglers to its banks. As such Ardtara makes it easy to tick off your Northern Ireland sight-seeing bucket list, providing many backdrops for romantic photographic memories.
Poetry lovers should also make a beeline to the Seamus Heaney Homeplace during any stay. This new visitor centre celebrates the life and literature of the poet Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and is just a 10-15 minute drive from Ardtara.
The verdict: This charming hotel is perfect for an adults-only post lockdown break. Ardtara is a member of Ireland’s Blue Book comprising country house hotels, elegant Georgian manors, stately castles, historic hotels, luxury boutique hotels there is something to suit all tastes and requirements. For further information and special offers visit: www.ardtara.com.
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