Solis Castle Lough Eske Donegal
Solis Castle truly deserves its award for 2009 Best Country Hotel in the World. And to think four years ago it didn’t even have a roof ! Originally the seat of the O’Donnell's it was abandoned in 1607 with Flight of the Earls, having had a succession of owners until finally falling into disrepair from neglect. It was almost lost forever, which would have been a shame considering its magical woodland setting on Lough Eske surrounded by the snowcapped Bluestack mountains. Thankfully it has since been restored by its present owners to its former glory and re-established as a place of refuge and hospitality for guests from all over Ireland and the world.
Sensitively restored and extended, the new buildings blend in seamlessly as they mirror the original layout of the former estate such as the new coach house accomodation, the pool and spa complex cleverly mimics Victorian style glasshouses. An impressive baronial style arched entrance leads you into a panelled foyer with imposing staircase and several Edwardian styled drawing rooms with plenty of deep couches to lounge about in front of huge fireplaces with roaring, if at times smokey turf fires, 'all part of the charm'.
'Charm' is what impressed me most and will bring me back. While Solis castle is perfect, the restoration work, the well appointed rooms, scrupulous attention to detail, lovely gardens and walks it's the people who work there who are the real jewel in its crown. You couldn’t call them 'staff' because they will have become friends by the time you leave, but not the type who would go home with you, or contrived in anyway. Perhaps it is Donegal genetics or the soft accent as in Kass....il, or some secret school of charm they all attend? Either way the whole country could do with taking lessons from them!
Of course you will enjoy your stay, it undoubtedly ticks all the boxes, the food... did I mention the food? Just what you would expect in a 5 Star hotel but with a definite local influence and their signature chocolate buffet on Sundays, pure indulgence. Recession or no recession Solis Castle, is usually packed to capacity (though there are some great deals to be picked up mid week, see link below) and rightly so, because at Solis Lough Eske Castle you genuinely feel like a valued and welcomed guest rather then just another bed night, or paying customer.