If you’re after an honest Shandon Hotel review, you’ve found it.
I stayed here what feels like a lifetime ago now. Well, it was at the start of 2019 which, considering everything that’s happened over the last 12 months, feels like a lifetime ago…
The review below was written back then, a couple of days after my stay, but I’ve decided to update it as we’ve had a lot of emails about the Shandon since featuring it in our guide to the best spa hotels in Donegal.
So, it’s time for me to stop rambling on – below, you’ll get a look inside the Shandon Hotel and Spa and get an honest review of what it was like.
The Shandon Hotel and Spa in Donegal
Before we dive into the review, I want to be transparent: the folks at Shandon Hotel and Spa gave me a complimentary 2 nights bed and breakfast along with an evening meal.
Now, if the Shandon Hotel was crap, I’d tell you. I’d never do anything in exchange for a positive review. If I like something, I’ll say so. If I love it, I’ll do the same.
If I think something’s sh*te and not worth you spending your hard earned cash on it, I’ll shout it from the rooftop. Read more about our review policy here.
Shandon Hotel review
OK. I’m going to kick this off with the rooms at the Shandon. The first thing that hit me when I opened the door to my room was the heat. It was roasting.
After firing open the windows and flinging my hoodie into a corner, I stood back and took it all in. The room was big, homely and comfy. Really damn comfy.
The Shandon Hotel overlooks Sheephaven Bay, so expect some serious views
The bathroom was nearly the size of the main room and it came equipped with a bath that made the most out of the spectacular view out over Sheephaven Bay.
After a long day on the road I hopped into the nest, lashed on the latest episode of Derry Girls and chilled for the evening.
The room that I was put up in was a master suite. If you fancy spending the night in one of these, the price starts at €205.
The rooms are great, but the best thing about the Shandon Hotel and Spa is the location
Yes, the Shandon Hotel and Spa is lovely. The people are warm and friendly, the place is comfy, homely and spotless. Yet it’s what lies just outside its door that steals the show.
I set the alarm for 06:00 the following morning and took the short (literally 3-minute) stroll to the beach.
As you turn the corner out of the carpark and hit the little stretch of road that you can see in the picture above, the music of the waves crashing meets your ears.
I took a right at the end of the road and walked for around 5 minutes until I reached Marble Hill Beach.
It was roughly 06:25 and I had the whole place to myself. Talk about kick-starting a day in style.
Food at the Shandon
After arriving back from the beach and grabbing a shower, I made my way down to breakfast, which was a buffet style help-yourself kind of job. Happy days.
I piled on the eggs and rashers and lobbed a thick slice of homemade bread onto the side of my plate along with a lone sausage which I washed down with a strong cup of coffee.
I had a reservation for dinner at 19:30 that evening. Stupidly, I met a friend for coffee earlier in the evening and my rumbling stomach got the better of me. So, this would be dinner number 2…
I decided to pass on the starter and head straight for the steak. Which was cooked to perfection and served with 4 (yes, four) chips, a generous helping of garlic potatoes and some seasonal veg. And a pint.
The Shandon Hotel spa
Up until my visit to the Shandon Hotel, I’d never been to a spa. Ever. But I saw a photo of the hot tub and the view that you get when you’re chilling in it, so I decided to head up on the morning before I drove back to Dublin.
If you visit the Shandon Hotel Spa you’ll be treated to;
- A stunning view of Sheephaven Bay from the pool
- A luxurious range of heat and cooling experiences
- A Vitality Pool with carefully positioned water jets to massage different areas of your neck and body (I spent about 20 minutes messing around with these)
- Individual foot spas covered in tiny glass mosaic (I didn’t really get the appeal of these)
- A big aul sauna
- A Salt Grotto which shot out mist that was infused with Sea Salt and Eucalyptus (first time in one of these)
For me, it was all about the hot tub. It’s was pretty special being able to sit in piping hot, bubbly water while watching waves crash on the beach at Marble Hill and admiring the surrounding countryside.
Our Shandon Hotel review review in a nutshell
The Shandon Hotel and Spa is class. If you’re like me and you generally opt for staying somewhere that offers a tonne of adventure opportunities close by, then you should consider staying here.
It’s a solid base for exploring Donegal. While the hotel itself is fabulously furnished and spotless throughout, it’s the view of the surrounding area that steals the show time and time again.
Things to do if you’re staying at the Shandon
One of the beauties about staying in the Shandon Hotel is that you’re a stone’s-throw from a nearly endless number of things to see and do.
Below, you’ll find everything from nearby beaches and forest parks to scenic drives, hikes and much more.
1. Beaches galore
2. Dunfanaghy village and Horn Head
For those looking to stretch the legs, Horn Head (the drive up to it is worth the spin alone) is a 20-minute drive away.
If you fancy a bite to eat away from the Shandon, there are several solid restaurants in Dunfanaghy worth nipping into.
3. Walks, walks and more walks
If you fancy a decent ramble, you’ve several options to choose from that vary in length and difficulty level.
Personally, I’d opt for option 1 below, as you can combine a visit to the park with a tour of Glenveagh Castle:
- Glenveagh National Park (22-minute drive)
- Ards Forest Park (11-minute drive)
- Mount Errigal (26-minute drive)
Other incredible hotels in Donegal worth checking out
In our guide to the best hotels in Donegal, you’ll find everything from spa hotels by the sea to castle hotels by Lough Eske. Here’s some more guides to hop into:
- 17 quirky places to go glamping in Donegal
- 21 hotels in Donegal worth your hard-earned €€€
- The fanciest luxury accommodation and five star hotels in Donegal
- 15 of the most unique Airbnbs in Donegal
- 13 scenic places to go camping in Donegal
- 29 gorgeous cottages in Donegal to rent this summer
FAQs about the Shandon Hotel in Donegal
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is this Shandon Hotel review genuine?’ (it is!) to ‘What is there to do in the area?’ (see above).
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Does the Shandon live up to the hype?
Yes. Although we were lucky enough to get a free stay, I’d 100% head back here if I was visiting the area. The spa, food and service are all excellent.
Is the Shandon Hotel expensive?
This will really depend on what you regard to be expensive. It’s definitely dearer than some nearby hotels, but it’s not as pricey as others.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.