My wife and I stayed at Inish Meain in June of 2011 during a week-long stay in the west of Ireland. We stayed at three other hotels that were all "Fodor's Choice" selections. They were very nice but Inish Meain is playing in a different league. It deserves comparison to the best small inns in the world.
Inish Meain's design, accommodations, food, service, and setting are all superlative. Every item we encountered during our stay seemed to reflect the owners' high standards and attention to detail. The inn is very peaceful and the island itself seems to be adrift in another century if not another millenium. At the same time, the accommodations and services offered were more refined than anything else we found in western Ireland.
The island is small but offers a unique view into Irish culture and history. We took two afternoons to explore the windward side of the island, with its ancient stone structures and dramatic views, by bike and on foot. We found the Irish-speaking residents of the island to be shy but very friendly. We also enjoyed sitting in our room reading. While looking out at the rocky island and the ocean, we enjoyed the coffee, baked goods, and other provisions found in each guest suite.
Breakfast, delivered to the room, was simple but fresh and delightful. Dinner, in the restaurant, featured local seafood and was easily the finest meal we had during our visit to Ireland. Lunch is available, if you are interested, at one of the other small inns nearby.
Ruari and Marie-Therese were lovely hosts. They met us at the ferry dock and returned us there after our stay. They answered all of our questions and provided for every need. Due to the limited ferry service early in the season, we arrived well before the normal check-in time and left well after check-out. While we waited, we were provided with food and coffee at a table in the restaurant.
I struggle to find anything that might compare to the excellence of this small inn and its island setting. For American travelers, Inish Meain, with its Frank Lloyd Wright-style minimalism, may be reminiscent of a smaller Post Ranch Inn without the cliffside location but with better food and service. Oh, and at about one-third the price. The latter point suggests that you may want to visit Inish Meain sooner rather than later. Eventually the inn will be discovered by the mainstream travel press and the owners will realize that their offerings are vastly underpriced.
One additional suggestion: You can find about a dozen good photographs of the inn, including its setting, rooms and restaurant at the website of its architects, de Blacam and Meagher, under the "projects" link. You will find Inish Meain under "commercial" projects for for the firm.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Inis Meain is one of the Aran Islands, 15 miles off the west coast of Ireland. It is just 3 miles across and supports 160 inhabitants. Ruairi & Marie-Therese de Blacam created Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites to enhance visitor's appreciation of the island by providing a style of accommodation and dining that is complimentary to the location. The suites are simple and understated in styling, with ample space and views. The restaurant serves mainly island-sourced food. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Inis Meain Restaurant And Suites
- Inis Meain Restaurant Hotel Inishmann
- Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites Ireland/Aran Islands