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Ok – this is going to be a looooong blog post so if you bore easily I apologise in advance…. I just have so much to include in this and don’t want to leave stuff out!
Whenever I hear of Delphi in Connemara I straight away think of the few days I spent there when I was in Transition year in school – and I won’t lie, they ain’t all great memories! I was about 15/16 years old and had ZERO interest in trekking off to the other side of the country to an adventure centre with the rest of my classmates…. I didn’t even like most of them enough to spend any time with them outside of school never mind be with them for 3 days straight doing team building things in the lashing rain – and lash rain it did! Fast forward about 14 years (sob… I’m getting so OLD!) and now I love the idea of trudging up mountains in the rain all to get the most amazing views.
My faithful companion – yes that’s you Mother (she reads this… think she likes to know what I’m up to!) – had been to Delphi before and is a big fan. I’ll point out now that she wasn’t at the Adventure Centre sharing a dorm like I did in school… there’s now a fabulous hotel beside it. It was built in 2005 and has worked up a great name for itself since. So when a deal from Rewarding Times popped into my inbox a while back for the resort we decided we deserved a nice weekend away to chill out and treat ourselves. We got 2 nights B & B, 1 evening meal, scones and 2 seaweed baths for €285 instead of almost double that price – an amazing deal!
(Rewarding Times do some really great deals by the way http://www.rewardingtimes.ie/ )
Off we set last Saturday morning at about 10am. The journey time from Dublin is probably about 4 hours driving time without stops. It’s a great road as far as Galway then once you pass through a few towns the other side it gets a bit more rugged. About 25 minutes after you pass through Galway and Oughterard the scenery starts to turn to huge mountainous areas. I’d say we drove a good 20 minutes without seeing a solitary thing except the mountains, rain and sheep…lots and lots of sheep! The weather was all over the place, veering between the sun beating down on us to very heavy downpours of rain and wind – so we took it handy on the roads.
We were pretty much starving so we said we’d stop somewhere for lunch before getting to the hotel. The only place on the radar to stop in was Leenane, a small village at the head of Killary harbour. It’s quite well known for walkers, fishermen and people into water sports etc – my brother has been a few times diving. So we decided to stop off here. Now Leenane is a small village – I mean tiny… like maybe 2 pubs, a hotel, a tourist shop and a cafe – so there wasn’t all that much choice. We decided on the Blackberry Cafe, one of only a few places to eat. It was a cosy little place with a steady trade, a mix of foreign tourists and young Irish guys and girls into the outdoors and watersports. On the menu there was a good mix of fish, burgers, wraps & sambos. I did spot a few people with the burger and they looked great ….however I was trying to do some damage limitation as I knew the weekend would be full of food so I went for the combi of smoked salmon and crab meat on brown bread (€11.50) and Mam had the goats cheese and onion ciabatta (€8). There’s not many options of places to eat along here so I think this was probably the best choice!
Directly in front of the cafe is Killary Fjord. With the way the weather was, the water was pretty choppy – I didn’t see anyone doing any diving or watersports that day and I wasn’t surprised. It is a lovely sight but to be honest after about 5 minutes getting blown about we’d had enough and got in the car for the last 20 minutes of our journey!
When we arrived at the hotel, I wasn’t 100% sure of what to expect. I knew it wasn’t a 5 star luxury modern place like the G Hotel but even after looking online at pics etc I wasn’t sure what it would be like. My first impression of the outside was that it looked sorta like a wood cabin type of place – definitely fitted in with the surrounds…. all of which are mountains! A huge built up fancy hotel would have looked out of place and like an eyesore. We walked in the front door and I was really pleasantly surprised…it was nice and warm and cosy with nice shiny wood and marble floors, a lovely fireplace, candles and nice dim lighting.
The Reception staff were lovely and helped bring our luggage to the room, good thing too as I could barely hold all my bags (yes, for a 2 day stay in Connemara… I obviously struggle with packing light!!) The twin room was perfect, spotlessly clean and well kept, not huge but definitely satisfactory. The bathroom was shiny and clean, if slightly small….with nice toiletries from Eco Boutique (I’m a sucker for lemongrass!) One thing out of the ordinary was that there was no TV in the room – I know you may think you NEED a TV but honestly it was not missed in the slightest. There’s a lounge area on the bottom floor that has plenty of cosy sofas and chairs and free wi-fi so if you want to catch up on the news on your phone / laptop you can do so there.
I’ve so many photos of the place that I want to get in so I’m just going to pic stitch them together to get more in without you having to trawl through heaps of pics!
As part of the package we had a seaweed bath included which we had to prebook. You also had to prebook your time in the Thermal Suite so by the time we sorted ourselves it was almost Spa time. We headed down and had to fill in a quick form just asking about medical conditions etc. As my Mam has overactive thyroid, they advised her not to have the seaweed bath as it can boost your metabolism even more… so she got booked for a back, shoulder and neck massage instead – not a bad swap!
We spent an hour in the Thermal Suite reading our books and taking it easy, it was so quiet and relaxing. The beds and Jacuzzi looked right out to the mountains and when the sun did come out on and off it was absolutely fabulous just laying there. I don’t really like Steam Rooms so I went into the Sauna for a while – and almost fell asleep :-)
So then time for my Seaweed bath. A really nice girl came and took me through to a lovely candle lit room with music piped through, panpipes and soothing water noises. The water in the bath was not too attractive looking but I thought, while I’m here I’ll make the most of it. I do like a bath every once in a while – although I tend to be covered in bubble bath not green slimy seaweed! The water was just right temperature and I tentatively stepped in (last thing I wanted was to slip and crack my head open!), the seaweed was pretty much as expected – slimy and oily…. and yes, slightly smelly too! So I lay down for a bit and relaxed then thought I better do what the lovely therapist told me to do and rub the seaweed over me….. this was a mixture of absolutely gross and really nice!
I have to say that after 40 minutes I was getting antsy… I find it hard to switch off totally, I lay there just relaxing for a while then read for a few minutes, then tried relaxing again, then back to the book! I got a knock on the door after 45 mins and got out, then spent another while on the lounger beds in the Thermal Suite and then we headed off.
So after a quick shower and change we were ready for dinner. First we had a drink in the hotel bar….there had been some Connemara sporting event that day so there was a few around. The bar is small enough and is really cosy with soft sofas and low tables. There’s big windows with lovely views – you’d easily sit there for hours chilling out over a bottle of wine and not feel the time pass. We ordered a bottle of our fave New Zealand Marlbrough wine… €28 for a bottle of this as opposed to the €22 we paid for just 2 glasses in the Shelbourne hotel last week!
Then we moved into the restaurant. It’s a lovely simple restaurant with fabulous views of the mountains. There was a great photo op of a crack of sun between the mountain top and the clouds coming down but I couldn’t jump out of the seat and over to the window to catch it… as it is I think I looked like a paparazzo with the amount of time I had the camera out!
They have a simple but great menu. Starter choices were carrot & orange soup, asparagus & poached egg, brie or smoked salmon– we both went for the asparagus with poached egg and tomato buerre blanc (I’ve no idea, but it was a very nice sauce!) It was a lovely starter and nothing too heavy – which was lucky as the mains were HUGE! Choices for mains were steak, lamb shank, salmon, pork belly with prawns, hake or ricotta. I went for the hake and Mam had the lamb shank – both were absolutely amazing. There was so much food, and of course I ate every bit (as you can see from the empty plate in the pic below)
I had to give myself about 20 minutes break before desert … it seems the words “no thanks, not for me” aren’t in my vocabulary these days! We went for the rhubard & strawberry crumble with ice cream and strawberries – we also polished that off (I’m a bit embarrassed now – what a pig!) Other desert choices were lemon meringue pie, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate and orange cheesecake or a cheeseboard.
Two courses were included in the deal we got so with the wine at €28 and desert at €8 it was just €36, we left absolutely fit to burst and had one more drink in the bar and off to bed.
We woke up on the Sunday morning hoping for a bit of sun or even just a dry day. There’s so many activities that you can do here, water sports (not really for me….fuzzy wet hair and all that!), hiking, horse riding and plenty of other “outdoorsy” things. We’d said the night before we’d like to try the horse riding but honestly this is what we woke up to – it wasn’t weather for horse riding!
We went down for breakfast which was the normal mix of healthy stuff on one side then the buffet brekkie on the other side. I’m not a big eater first thing in the morning (yep I hear ya – it must be the ONLY time of day she doesn’t eat LOADS!) I got pics of the healthy stuff but there were too many people around for me to start photographing the bacon and eggs!
After breakfast there was about a 5 minute window without rain so we threw our walking gear on and said we’d do the short loop around the forest to the back of the hotel. Pretty much as you’d expect, we walked for about 100 meters and it started raining again – and didn’t stop! Although we got soaked it was nice to just get out and ramble around for half an hour. We came across a group of girls in the woods doing some sort of group activity. They had to climb up the ladder and crawl through some tube things then walk across ropes etc – I won’t lie, we had a good laugh looking up at them screaming their way through it! 🙂
Anyway – we got absolutely drowned but did see some lovely scenery along the way.
Straight back to the hotel, quick change and back to the spa for us lazy lumps! It was €15 each for us to use the Spa. I know people often give out about these charges and say it should be included when you’re staying in the hotel but we really didn’t mind. It wasn’t overly expensive in comparison with some of the other hotels that can charge about €40 each to use the Thermal Suite and on a miserable day like that we gladly paid and plonked ourselves on the loungers again for some R & R. Plus we hung around for a bit – ok a LOT – longer than the hour that you’re technically supposed to stay for that price 🙂
After that we rambled up to the bar and had our scones that were included in the package and got cosy on one of the sofas for an hour … it was a fab way to spend the afternoon, glass of prosecco, view of the mountains and a good book – I was totally chilled out!
That evening we decided to try the bar food… anyone seeing a pattern here?!… food ALL the time!
We got ourselves a lovely seat looking the opposite way to what we had been facing the night before – got a lovely snap of the very brief sunshine over the mountains through the half moon window then went outdoors to the terrace to get the sun going down between the two mountains over the other side – it was pretty breathtaking.
We had a glass of wine while looking over the menu. We decided on the cheeseboard to share as our starter (€8) then I got the salad with green beans, rocket, spinach, walnuts and sundried tomatoes (€10) and Cajun wedges (€3) and Mam got the chicken curry with chips and naan bread (€15). SERIOUSLY – food overload!! It was amazing. The cheeseboard was lovely and as per usual I ate too much before my main. Check out the size of those wedges, I’ve never in my life seen them so chunky! I honestly could barely move after that, we had one more glass of wine then went to bed and fell into a food induced coma!
That’s pretty much it now you’ll be glad to hear (how many pages are we on now?!) We got up and had breakfast the next morning and headed off early enough.
The biggest compliment I can pay this place is that I didn’t really want to leave. This is coming from a girly girl who lives in heels and a full face of make up and is lost without her I phone so that’s saying a lot! This is a homely hotel in the middle of nowhere, no phone reception and one room where you can get wi-fi access… and all of that adds to it and makes it what it is, a total break away from everyday life where you can really switch off and relax. The service, attitude and friendliness of the staff was faultless, the food and wine were absolutely fantastic and the setting is something that I haven’t come across yet (The Europe in Killarney is on my list though!) Without a doubt I’ll return and would recommend to anyone who just wants to get away from it all or has an interest in being outdoors and walking etc…. just be prepared for rain…. and lots and lots of sheep…. oh and yes, you will come back at least half a stone heavier!
Delphi Mountain Resort
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