Like so many of our generation, a week long self-catering holiday in Ireland was a staple of our childhood years. Memories of our parents packing the car with pretty much everything bar the kitchen sink most definitely does not evoke thoughts of holiday relaxation. Fast forward to the current self catering options on offer, where comfort and luxury are to the fore, none so much as the picturesque Dolphin Beach Lodge.
Not only has the comfort level of the accommodation vastly improved so too has the style in which we travel. TheTaste Tour is kindly sponsored by Lexus Ireland. Packing up the Lexus UX, we were travelling in the utmost comfort and style, but also very importantly, the economy of the UX is second to none. We travelled from Kildare to Connemara, drove the car everyday for a week and back to Kildare again on less than €60 worth of Petrol. The ultimate economical and luxurious drive.
We based ourselves in Dolphin Beach Lodge for a full, glorious week and can honestly say it was one of the best decisions we have made.
We had been following Dolphin Beach House on Instagram for a while and when we spotted a last minute deal we decided to enquire further. Within less than an hour of a few emails back and forth, a deal was done and we were heading off less than a week later to the wiley west.
Located on Sky Road in Clifden, Co Galway, Dolphin Beach Lodge is nothing less than idyllic. The Lodge itself is nestled beachside with the most majestic views of Clifden Bay. Navigating the long, narrow, winding roads was definitely a little nerve wrecking for the first day or two but after that we were zipping along like locals. Speaking of the locals, Connemara has got to be one of the friendliest parts of Ireland. The shops, cafes, bars and restaurants in Clifden hold the warmest of welcomes.
The Lodge is comprised of three bright and airy ensuite bedrooms, all with sea views and doors that open out directly onto the grounds. A large sitting room, complete with a fabulous open fire and uninterrupted sea views is the perfect place to unwind. We loved the novelty of lighting the open fire and sitting back to read for a couple of hours each night. There is a flat screen TV but for us, the sound of the crackling logs on the fire was all we wanted to listen to.
Due to the incredible location and clever design, from every room you are fully immersed in the wonderful nature that surrounds the house.
The spacious, modern kitchen with its high, chapel like ceiling has everything you need to create gourmet feasts (or heat up a tasty takeaway). The eight seater dining table is perfectly placed to soak up the all encompassing views of Clifden Bay.
When the weather permits you can also dine alfresco at the outdoor banqueting table with the Fire-Pit area proving to be the most romantic spot of all for sunset watching.
The owners of Dolphin Beach Lodge operate a larger, sister property, Dolphin Beach House, which is literally just a stones throw away from the lodge. We were given a tour of Dolphin Beach House which from the outside looks like it has literally been carved from the side of the cliff. The House sleeps twelve with four double and two twin rooms. The panoramic views from the dining room are absolutely magnificent. Lots of unique woodwork is on display throughout both properties from headboards to framed mirrors, all of which are the handy-work of proprietor, Billy Foyle.
Billy & Barbara Foyle started out with a cottage and after many years of hard work and dedication Dolphin Beach House was realised. They engage the help of their fabulous daughter Clodagh to manage both properties. Clodagh is the most helpful lady you could hope to meet and is a wealth of information on the locality. Always at the end of the phone to answer any questions or queries you may have.
Before we left home we ordered wine from Boutique Wines which was delivered right to our holiday home door. This fantastic service, made life all the easier. We were definitely looking forward to enjoying some of our favourites while on holiday. We did our food shop in the local shops in Clifden, the house is so beautiful you will want to spend as much time there as possible. With plenty of outdoor seating and a firepit overlooking the sea, cosying up with blankets and glorious glasses of wine quickly became a nightly ritual.
Staying in a house that is located so close to the sea is such a unique and wonderful experience. Waking up each morning to the lull of the restful waters of Clifden Bay is the greatest mind cleanse we have every experienced.
As we still had a daily work schedule, we choose to rise early, enjoy a walk before work and then get out for an afternoon adventure. One of our favourite spots to enjoy was the tiny, sandy alcove just in-front of the Lodge. Each day we would amble our way down the rugged shoreline and just sit and enjoy the serenity that beautiful Clifden Bay has to offer.
For lots of foodie treats we shopped in The Connemara Hamper, a treasure chest of local, artisan breads, meats, cheeses and so much more. Get in early to make sure you secure some of the incredible house baked sourdough and the same goes for local Crab Claws, you need to be in first thing to get them as they are in high demand, particularly on the weekends.
Walsh’s Bakery and Coffee Shop is another must visit in Clifden. A super spot for breakfast, lunch or just the simple luxury of coffee and cake. The cakes are simply out of this world, we couldn’t resist buying some to take home. Our personal favourites, all pictured were heavenly. Lemon Meringue Pie, the butteriest pastry case housing a zingy lemon curd and topped with a delightful, marshmallowy meringue. Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake, Sacher Torte and Banoffee Pie, each one a taste sensation.
We enjoyed relaxed lunches in Guys Bar in Clifden when we were out and about, the fish and chips quickly became a favourite of ours. Fresh Cod in a crisp, light batter with the obligatory mushy peas, tartar sauce and of course a helping of golden, chunky chips. The menu is really relaxed with family favourites such as pasta and pizza. All of these options are also available for takeaway.
Mitchell’s Seafood Restaurant proved to be a super spot. On a lazy Monday afternoon we enjoyed some delicious fresh Calamari and Golden Fried Scampi of Cod followed by a generous dessert of meringue with strawberries and cream. Not forgetting some very decent Irish Coffee’s – we were on holiday after all! Mitchell’s is definitely a spot to book if you are Clifden bound, the food and service is just fantastic.
As a special treat we booked “The Perfect Picnic” at Ballynahinch Castle. The Perfect Picnic is romance personified. This is probably one of the most expensive picnics available in Ireland but after experiencing it, it is honestly worth every penny.
A private picnic area was set up in the walled garden beneath a whimsical little Gazebo. A huge Fire-pit ensured ultimate cosiness at all times. Champagne on ice and an endless amount of dainty delights to tempt us. Our delightful Butler had made sure everything was just perfect and left a number for us to call should we have any additional requirements.
The delicious food offerings of dainty sandwiches, homemade soup, crab salad, scones, strawberries and cream with the added decadence of Champagne was really quite a special way to spend an afternoon. The area was reserved just for us with no time limit applied. An exquisite little hand-tied bouquet of garden flowers to take home was the sweetest end to the most romantic picnic we have ever had.
Another fabulous spot we visited was Kylemore Abbey. We booked our tickets online but really we left it a little too late in the afternoon to immerse ourselves in the full experience. The Victorian Walled Gardens are absolutely incredible, the grounds are truly breathtaking. The Abbey itself is a sight to behold. We would highly recommend making a full day or at least half a day out of your trip to Kylemore Abbey. There is so much to see, beautiful onsite dining in Mitchell’s Cafe, plenty of places to enjoy your own picnic and acres of manicured gardens for all age groups to enjoy.
Omey Island is about a thirty minute drive from Dolphin Beach Lodge. This is an absolute must visit. This tidal island is situated close to Claddaghduff. You can walk or drive across the large sandy strand to the island, it is fully sign posted.
We parked and walked the vast stretch of sandy beach at low tide. The awe-inspiring landscape of Omey Island is very unique. Mini lagoons of turquoise water dotted here and there transport you right into that holiday frame of mind we all crave from time to time. We were very lucky to get lots of bright, dry days but even if the weather is not amazing, once you dress appropriately Omey Island is well worth a visit at any time of the year.
There are so many things to see and do in Connemara. We were sorry to miss out on a visit to The Sea Hare in Cleggan. This has fast become one of Connemara’s most talked about spots, only two years in operation it is already a much loved favourite of locals and holiday makers alike. The Sea Hare is a Summer Pop Up that utilises the local produce with aplomb. This is the pop we that is top of our list for Summer 2021.
Our stay in Dolphin Beach Lodge was a soul soothing experience that we want to repeat again and again. The location is truly special as is the property itself. If you are looking for a luxurious self-catering break, Dolphin Beach Lodge is for you.
Pouring through the vast amount of comments in the Guest Book it is clear to see that Dolphin Beach Lodge has stolen the hearts of many worldwide visitors that have visited its magical shores.
This truly special stay has whetted our appetite to explore more self-catering properties across Ireland this year.
Dolphin Beach Lodge,
WRITTEN BY: KEITH MAHON & OLIVIA BYRNE