Patsy O’Kane's fine hotel is just a couple of miles south of Londonderry, beautifully set in 42 acres of peaceful woodland, waterfalls and gardens.
Built in 1729, the house has retained many of its original details and Patsy is a hands-on proprietor, who is totally committed to developing the best aspects of this interesting hotel and making the guest experience memorable. Every year brings a new round of plans and improvements, and Patsy is an exceptionally hospitable and caring hostess - and this genuine hospitality is shared by her staff too, so each guest always feels personally welcome.
Beech Hill is an ideal destination for anyone who enjoys being in restful surroundings and yet close to the city. The lovely gardens and woodlands are the main attraction for many and, as well as 6km of woodland trails, there are picnic areas for fine weather and a new outdoor gazebo and terrace at the main pond area.
Like many country house hotels, it is an old building with later additions and there is always work to be done, but all the main public areas have recently been refurbished, and changes are always undertaken sensitively, in keeping with the building. The comfortable bedrooms vary in size and outlook - some are quite grand and many overlook the gardens, but all are thoughtfully furnished with Mrs O’Kane’s ever-growing collection of antiques. An ongoing programme of renovation is in place for the bedrooms, which are being refurbished in phases.
Dogs have always been welcome at Beech Hill and this aspect of its hospitality is growing, with plans for heated kennels for those requiring them and a dedicated group of pet friendly rooms with direct access to the gardens, arranged around a central sitting room where dogs may relax with their owners. The woodland walks could well have been developed with dogs and their owners in mind, making this the perfect destination for anyone travelling in the region with their pet.
Public rooms include a good-sized bar, a fine restaurant (in what was originally the snooker room, now extended into a conservatory overlooking the gardens) and, unusually, a private chapel, now used for meetings, private parties or small weddings.
American visitors, especially, will be interested to know that US Marines had their headquarters here in World War II and an informative small museum of the US Marine Friendship Association is housed within the hotel.
*Beech Hill is understandably popular for weddings; private guests are advised to check if there is a wedding expected during their stay, as it may affect dining arrangements and the atmosphere in the hotel.
Conference/banqueting (300); business centre, broadband wi/fi, secretarial services. Beauty salon, massage & treatments, walking, garden. Golf, fishing & equestrian nearby. Children welcome (under 3s free in parents' room cot available without charge, babysitting arranged). Pets welcome by arrangement.
Rooms 30 (2 suites, 3 junior suites, 13 executive rooms, 10 shower only, 2 disabled, all no smoking). Lift. B&B £67.50pps, ss £22.50; SC discretionary. Closed 24/25 Dec.
The Ardmore Restaurant:
The restaurant is a very attractive feature of this charming hotel; it is elegantly appointed and well-positioned, overlooking gardens and water features (a particularly pleasant outlook at breakfast time).
Frequently changed menus are led by seasonal availability of produce in the walled garden (see below) and other local supplies.The house cooking style is modern classic with a strong Irish twist, highlighting local and Irish artisan produce in many dishes. A separate vegetarian menu is offered - also a good value set dinner menu.
In 2013, the hotel partnered with Lady Dunleath from Ballywalter Estate to promote food heritage and the benefits of growing your own seasonal produce. The walled garden is the main focus of this project and the kitchen team is developing historical recipes from a 150 year old cook book which they have inherited. The book references the walled garden and the dishes the author could create throughout the year.
An informative, well chosen wine list includes tasting notes and some wines by the glass, and service is warm and professional.