Solis Lough Eske Castle truly deserves all the awards it wins every year eg Best Small Hotel in the World, Best Country House Hotel, etc, etc, the list is endless and to think a few years ago it didn’t even have a roof ! Originally the seat of the O’Donnells it was abandoned in 1607 with the Flight of the Earls, it then had a succession of owners until finally falling into ruin and 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 Bluestack mountains. But thankfully, it was sold and has since been renovated and restored, by the present owners, to its former glory and re-established as a place of refuge and grand hospitality for guests from all over Ireland and the rest of the world.
Sensitively restored and extended, the new buildings blend in seamlessly as they mirror the original layout of the former estate. The accommodation in the coach house, stands on the house's original footprint while the pool and spa complex cleverly mimics the Victorian glass houses that would have stood on the same spot once upon a time. An impressive Scottish baronial 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, it's all 'part of the charm' as they say....
'Charm' is what impressed me most during my stay here and is what will bring me back time and time again. While Solis Lough Eske 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 this castle's crown. You could not really call the people who work here 'staff' because they will have become friends by the time you leave, but not the type who would 'go home with you' or that is contrived in any way. Perhaps it is Donegal genetics or the soft accent as in (castle pronounced) 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 Easter Sunday, pure indulgence. Recession or no recession it 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 are made to feel like a valued and welcomed guest, rather then just another bed night, or paying customer.
Solis Lough Eske Castle is listed as one of the Top 10 Castles to Stay In, in my best selling Irish Travel Guide on Amazon.com Where To Eat, Sleep & Play in Ireland in 2015