Lough Eske Castle is the Irish hotel of my dreams.
It’s a property that’s rich in history, character, and it also happens to be a castle. Lough Eske Castle oozes with charm. Step into a fairy tale from the moment you arrive, and appreciate a 5-star, luxurious experience until you’re ready to leave. That is, if you are ever ready to leave. I wasn’t.
From the moment I ventured down the long, winding driveway, I knew that the Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel was a special place. Although it was a rainy day, a shroud of fog clung to the surface of the lake for which the castle is named. This mysterious atmosphere created even more suspense as I journeyed down the roadway.
Slowly, images of the property crept into view. A statue of a dragon breathing fire, as well as a bronze eagle clutching a fish in its talon, were promising first impressions. Finally, Lough Eske Castle itself materialized before my eyes. I could hardly contain my excitement. It was a magnificent sight to behold.
Arriving at Lough Eske Castle
Ashley and I reached Solis Lough Eske Castle after a day of windy and rainy adventures throughout County Donegal. Needless to say, we were in desperate need of some rest and relaxation, and we’d come to the right place.
As soon as we arrived, a staff member of the hotel promptly came outside to greet us collect our belongings. As we checked in, he loaded our suitcases into a golf cart. After Ashley parked the car, we were transported to the closest doorway to our room. He carried our luggage right to our room for us, and we hardly had to lift a finger.
An Intriguing History
Lough Eske Castle shares ties with the powerful O’Donnell clan and their story throughout the Middle Ages. While the O’Donnells owned many castles, you can still see the ruins of one of them near Lough Eske Castle. According to written records, the earliest mentions of the O’Donnells in Donegal Town are in 1474. A nearby castle in Lough Eske, on Island O’Donnell, was used as a prison by the family. In 1607, their reign came to an end following the Flight of the Earls from Rathmullen.
Scottish settlers built a manor on Lough Eske, which was later developed into Lough Eske Castle in 1861. The cornerstone of the old Lough Eske Manor with the date of 1621 remains in the castle’s courtyard to this day.
At the end of the century, the castle changed ownership and eventually fell into a state of disrepair. After two years of intensive renovations, Solis Lough Eske Castle was born and the castle was saved from destruction.
Solis Lough Eske Hotel Property
There are several interesting features surrounding the hotel where guests can wander and explore.
Solis Lough Eske Castle showcases a unique sculpture garden, including several captivating pieces by artists Lloyd Le Blanc and the late Judith Holmes Drewry. Some of the small sculptures are scattered around the interior of the hotel, but the most sensational pieces are outdoors. There’s a three-metre high fountain featuring several salmon leaping through the air.
Lough Eske Castle is the only 5-star property in County Donegal. Nestled on the shores of Lough Eske, it stands majestically on a 43-acre site teeming with forests and trails. Even on a rainy day, I had to check out the boardwalk around the lake.
Every surface glistened with raindrops and shimmered in brilliant shades of green. The wooden boards creaked beneath my footsteps. An overgrowth of greenery eventually gave way to peaceful and silent glimpses of Lough Eske.
There are 96 guest rooms in total at the hotel, and you’ll be guaranteed a comfortable stay in each one of them. Our Deluxe Room featured warm, neutral tones accompanied by classic, oak furniture. A window overlooked a tranquil green space, evoking a calming sentiment.
Each room has a 32″ flat-screen TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, a refreshment centre, a digital lock safe, and dual-voltage sockets.
The incredibly spacious bathroom is decked out in marble tiling. With two sinks inside a granite vanity, a large bathtub, and a separate shower, you’ll feel like royalty.
Solis Lough Eske Castle Spa
After a day of outdoor adventures in the rain, it was time to pamper myself with a trip to the spa. While I didn’t indulge in any spa treatments, swimming around the pool was highly enjoyable. In addition to the pool, you can utilize the sauna, steam room or tropical experience showers.
For those interested in a day at the spa, there are seven treatment rooms in total, including two couple suites with a jet bath and steam room.
Savour some quiet time in the relaxation area. Six designer beds look out towards the original kitchen gardens.
Dining at Lough Eske Castle
With one restaurant and two bars at Lough Eske Castle, you never even have to leave the hotel. I dined at Cedars Grill, a contemporary and elegant restaurant serving masterfully prepared dishes by the hotel’s Executive Chef. If you’re traveling as a vegan, be sure to ask for the separate vegan menu.
In addition to bread and olive oil, my starter included a small helping of a tasty, mushroom soup. From there, I dove straight into the tantalizing crispy falafels, served with a sweet chili sauce. And if that wasn’t enough already, I helped myself to a massive portion of pasta with fresh tomato sauce.
The meal was delicious and I was pleasantly surprised to see a separate vegan menu!
If you aren’t up for a full meal, stop by for a pint of Guinness or a cocktail at the Gallery Bar or the Oak Bar. In fact, Lough Eske Castle has several exquisite public spaces to gather with friends and family. Whether relaxing by the fireplace with a glass of champagne or partaking in a lively billiards game while listening to traditional Irish music, there are many ways to unwind at the end of the day. And you’ll be reminded by the opulent chandaliers and massive portraits that…yes, you are staying in a castle.
When I woke up in the morning, I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to stay nestled between the cozy bed sheets, take another dip in the pool, or go wandering around the lake. Alas, I’ll have to wait until next time. Although I only enjoyed one night of luxury at Lough Eske Castle, my memories of living at this fairy tale castle will last for a lifetime.
Located just 5 minutes from Donegal, we traveled to the centre of town to watch this quaint town awaken from its slumbers. Here are the top things to do in Donegal Town.
Check out reviews by fellow trusted travelers of this 5-star property.
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Thank you so much to Solis Lough Eske Castle Hotel for hosting my stay. My opinions, as always, are entirely my own.