Our taxi crunched up the gravel drive through a mossy, Tolkienesque wood; the Bluestack Mountains framing postcard views of Lough Eske. Moments later, the Gothic splendour of Lough Eske Castle and a tweed-clad doorman were there to greet us. Inside, stone floors, overstuffed leather sofas, wood panelling and a grand piano completed the baronial feel.
My vast, open-plan garden suite was a feast of traditional-modern luxury: cotton sheets, chocolate brown decor, dark wood and all the usual mod cons. The only downside was that — being on the ground floor — I felt obliged to draw the curtains during the day.
At the spa, I greatly enjoyed my facial, bookended by a dip in the freshwater pool and sauna/ice rub. Best of all was sipping a ‘smoothie of the day’ afterwards while I perused Top Gear on a lounger.
The hotel is certainly visually impressive, but it’s the friendly, knowledgeable staff who set it apart. All were keen to regale me with local tales, including the castle’s 16th-century origins and ghost (although the most haunting presence are the playful, bronze figures festooning the grounds).
Words by: Chris Horton
Location: Donegal Town, Co Donegal, Republic of Ireland.
Contact: T: 00 353 7497 25100. www.solishotels.com