Beech Hill 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 proprietor Patsy O’Kane makes an exceptionally hospitable and caring hostess.
Comfortable bedrooms vary in size and outlook - many overlook the gardens, but all are thoughtfully and attractively furnished with Mrs O’Kane’s ever-growing collection of antiques.Dogs have always been welcome at Beech Hill and this aspect of its hospitality is growing, with heated kennels for those requiring them and a dedicated group of pet friendly rooms available with direct access to the gardens and arranged around a central sitting room where dogs may relax with their owners.
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. All the main public areas have recently been refurbished, but changes are always undertaken sensitively, in keeping with the building.
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.
The lovely gardens and woodlands have picnic areas for fine weather and 6km of new woodland trails were opened in 2013. These are very popular with walkers, including dog owners of course, and a new outdoor gazebo and terrace is planned for the main pond area.
*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 particularly attractive feature of this charming hotel; it is elegantly appointed and well-positioned, overlooking gardens (which is a particularly pleasant outlook at breakfast time).
Menus are a hymn to quality ingredients, citing use of local seafood, dry-aged local meats, free-range pork and Thornhill duck, award-winning cheeses; similarly, the ingredients of the dishes themselves are described in detail, all of which is interesting and confidence-inspiring.The house cooking style is modern classic, with a strong Irish twist, and a separate vegetarian menu is offered - also an early dinner menu, which is very good value.
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 that the author could create throughout the year.
An informative, well chosen wine list includes tasting notes and a good choice of wines by the glass, and service is warm and professional.