This is one of those hotel 'finds' that are so exceptional you think hard before sharing. The charm of Dolphin Beach House unfolds slowly but surely. The location is superb, on the coast of the evocatively-named Lower Sky Road, ten minutes' drive from Clifden. The house itself consists of an old stone cottage cleverly extended to incorporate nine (I think) guest rooms, all but one of which has a sea view. Five open directly onto a terrace and have their own distinctive chunky wood furniture outside for sitting, gazing and thinking about nothing much. If you come from London, you'd describe Dolphin Beach House it as a 'chic boutique B&B' and expect to pay three times as much as the published room rate. The rooms are large and attractively stylish, all wood and light-coloured fabrics, sparklingly clean, and flooded with Connemara light which can be blue-dazzling with sunshine or dulled with sea mist: both are beautiful. This is the West of Europe, after all, and the mist rolls in from the Atlantic -- but can lift as fast it came if you are lucky. The rooms have elegant wood floors and comfortable hand-crafted beds with exquisite linen, carefully-chosen random but interesting pieces of furniture including in our room a chaise longue, two soft easy chairs and a coffee table, a vintage screen, two antique chests, lots of lovely lamps and fascinating prints, paintings and books. Our bathroom was large with both bath and walk-in shower. The highlight of Dolphin Beach House, however, is the 'vibe' created by the Foyle family, and in particular by Clodagh, who combines relaxed friendliness with extreme professionalism and a brisk efficiency. Clodagh has been described by another reviewer as slightly eccentric: my Irish husband would say she was simply the best of Irish, while I would describe her as the ideal hostess - highly intelligent and knowledgeable, thoughtful and amusing. She and her smiling colleagues prepare a wonderful breakfast, cook a mean dinner of fresh produce most evenings, light you a fire if there's a chill in the air, are always on hand with trays of coffee or tea, and somehow manage to clean the place from top to bottom each day without ever disturbing anyone. But what we would return for, above all, are the magnificent views and walks from the house. From every room, including the dining room and sitting room, you can see the tiny sandy cove (where the brave can bathe), the sweep of the bay and on to the wide Atlantic. The exhilarating walk along the cliffs from the house provides some of the most spectacular cliff scenery in Europe, with colourful rocks, caves and tunnels, and seas that range from gentle to tumultuous. This is a wonderful, special place, with people to match -- and very good craic in Clifden's many pubs if you want further evidence. It is not the place for those seeking entertainment, noise and bustle, (no TVs in bedrooms, for example) but if you want beauty, peace, comfort, warmth and kindness, make the journey to Clifden and then on to Dolphin Beach House. If its magic affects you as it did us, you may start to believe that perhaps heaven DOES exist, and that you have found it.
- Also Known As:
- Dolphin Beach House Hotel Clifden