I‘ve heard people banging on about how amazing the five star Lough Eske Castle Hotel in Donegal is for a few years now.
A couple of weeks back, I had the chance to visit and see whether the hype was real, or whether it was all unjustified buzz.
So, here we are. An honest, no bullsh*t review.
Lough Eske Castle Hotel Review
If you’ve read any of our other reviews (the one on a castle Airbnb in Kilkenny has gone reasonably viral, if you fancy giving it a read!) you’ll know that we break each one down by:
- The rooms
- The food
- The overall hotel vibe
- The facilities
When we entered our room, the first thing to catch my eye wasn’t the massive bed, or the view out towards the castle, or the mini bar.
It was the fat chocolate covered strawberries that were resting on a little bit of slate, waiting for us to arrive (when you’re booking your room you can choose these as an add-on).
I could have eaten 50 of these lads. A grand little welcome to kick-off the stay.
I’m fairly sure that the room we stayed in was called a ‘Courtyard room’.
It was HUGE, cosy and spotless throughout. And yes, the bed was as ridiculously comfy as it looks in the photo above.
The bathroom (which was also king sized) came equipped with twin sinks, a decent sized bath and one of those rainforest style showers that always make me curse my own shower at home for about three weeks after using one.
Lough Eske is located smack bang in the middle of an area that’s bursting with intense natural beauty.
A glorious rugged landscape consisting of rolling mountains, icy lakes and lush woodland offer ample opportunities to get out and explore.
We arrived at around 17:00 on a Saturday evening so, after we’d lobbed our bags down and eaten our way through a load of chocolate covered strawberries, we headed out for a little ramble.
There’s a finely placed narrow boardwalk that takes you on a short journey through lush woodland along the side of the lake.
Inside the castle
Lough Eske was clearly meticulously restored to recreate the style and elegance that it had when the current building was constructed during the 1860s.
There are numerous different places throughout the ground floor of the castle where you can kick-back and chill with a book.
This little spot near the fire was hands-down my favourite.
That being said, there were plenty of other spots to flake out and do a bit of people watching, with entertainment provided by the hoards of wedding guests and staff all milling about the place.
On the Saturday night, the bar area was nice and quiet.
The log book for my lumbar spine is more weathered than a fishermans boot, so I was more than satisfied with the sturdy seats throughout.
The quality of the Guinness also helped (more on this in a minute).
The food in Lough Eske was stunning.
We were booked in for a meal in their Cedars restaurant for 19:30 that evening.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the restaurants front of house who took us to our seats and assigned us a waiter for the evening.
The Guinness was 10/10.
It was like getting desert before the starter. A perfectly poured pint of velvety cream.
For mains, we went for a shared steak dish ( 900g / 2lb Chateaubriand, which is the thickest part of the tenderloin fillet) that we were warned took 40 minutes to cook, but that was well worth the wait.
It’s two weeks since we had this steak, but it has probably come up in conversation 6 times since.
As always, I went for the ice cream for dessert.
And it was CLASS.
Chunky sheets of dark chocolate broken over creamy dairy ice cream and surrounded by a generous circle of honeycomb.
The breakfast buffet was also unreal.
I generally associate breakfast buffets with dry rashers, soggy eggs and hard pudding, but this was fresh and tasty.
There was also pancakes that were made to order… with Nutella.
The one negative – the thermal suite
If the overall stay at Lough Eske wasn’t as hugely enjoyable as it was, I would have docked a full point for this, but everything else was so outrageously flawless that it’s only fair to dock half a point.
When we were checking in to Lough Eske, the gentleman that welcomed us mentioned that there as a large number of kids in the hotel due to a wedding.
We didn’t really think much of it at the time.
Then we arrived to the thermal suite the following morning and they were all there hopping about the place (the picture above wasn’t taken during our visit).
There was screaming, diving, splashing and balls milling about the place.
Think Trabolgan style mayhem. Which is crazy considering it’s a five star hotel.
In the interest of complete transparency
How much a night at Lough Eske Castle costs
As is the case with most hotels, castle or standard, you’ll get the best bang for your buck when you visit midweek or on a Sunday
For example, a Monday night in May in one of the Courtyard Rooms with breakfast will set you back €275.
The same room on a Saturday night in June will set you back €380.
There are other room options that you can get at a cheaper price that don’t include breakfast. For example, a Saturday night in June in one of the Deluxe Guest rooms without breakfast will cost you €350.
Wrapping it all up
Lough Eske is an excellent hotel.
Style and comfort collide beautifully with impeccable service and food that’s simply out of this world.
Visit their website for more information.
Have you stayed at Lough Eske? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments section below!