Here’s where to find the most RELAXING and MEMORABLE STAY by the sea …
Every hotel has a different strength. Whether it’s location, stylish rooms, great food or a luxe spa, we’re usually drawn to one key aspect. With The Cliff House, perched high on a hill overlooking beautifully unspoilt Ardmore bay in Co Waterford, it’s a little trickier to choose just one: it has such a variety of strengths, it’s hard to know where to start. First impressions are all about the warm welcome, and stylish surroundings that feature plenty of local stone. Expansive terraces and a huge sweeping glass front means it never feels crowded, and there are plenty of swanky aspects to make this a treat destination (Michelin-star restaurant, valet parking, swish sun-drenched terrace for drinks, glam pool and spa treatment rooms overlooking the sea). Some rooms are high up, with large terraces and glass-walled showers, but if you want the real sea experience, ask for rooms 10-12; these have two balconies each which are literally just above the waves. As the lovely receptionist recommended, keep the windows open and you’ll drift off to sleep to the sound of the waves. A door just beside these rooms leads to private steps down to the sea; we spotted both skinny dippers and seals swimming past the window on a sunny evening. A scenic cliff walk adds to the Famous Five feel; Hunter wellies are provided if you only packed townie footwear. A floating golf green in the sea is one of the quirky touches at The Cliff; we hear that several golfers have managed a hole in one. Don’t miss the Ardmore Pottery just down the hill for Foxford blankets in every shade, Aran jumpers by Fisherman Out of Ireland, based in Donegal, and signature green glazed earthenware, all beautifully displayed.
The spa is entirely special not just for its location, but also for its top-notch treatments using Anne Semonin and Voya products. We recommend therapist Emer for an excellent facial tailored to your skin’s needs. A real highlight is the outdoor seaweed bath: there are two bathtubs, and sitting up to your neck in warm seaweed water, the oils infusing your skin with marine goodness, while watching seagulls plummet into the sea below, is a fabulously Irish experience: even better if it rains. Your skin will never feel softer. Alternatively, a peat bath is recommended for aching muscles.
Dinner is a serious experience, full of theatrical fireworks from Dutch chef Martijn Kajuiter – expect drama and amazingly unexpected tastes that make you double-take and gasp with pleasure, such as oyster ravioli hidden beneath a piece of the freshest seabass, smoked salmon ice cream, and the most wonderfully flavourful beef infusion steeped with herbs for 24 hours previously and served in a cafetiere with your local Irish beef. It’s not just great food, it’s memorably great.
The warm, unstuffy and informal atmosphere is down to general manager Aadrian Bartels and his staff, and it’s one of those places you just want to return to the minute you’ve left. Sunday nights are a good time to get a good rate and keep an eye on the website for the best dinner, bed and breakfast deals.
From €295-€420 for two people for a deluxe sea view room, depending on the season. Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford, +353 24 87800.
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