Originally a 19th-century coaching inn, developments at Alan Dunlop's renowned hotel have been done well, improving amenities without loss of character. The traditional tone is set by the turf fire and country seating in the hall and public rooms - bars, the famous circular library, the restaurant, even the Pine Room conference room carry on the same theme.
Bedrooms vary - the largest are quite grand and the newer ones are individually furnished in a comfortable cottage style, and even have “antiqued” bathrooms, but it’s all very well done and avoids a theme park feel.
Although quite expensive, it’s hard to think of a better base for a holiday playing the famous golf courses of the area (Royal Portrush is just four miles away) - or simply exploring this beautiful coastline and its hinterland; taking the Magilligan-Greencastle ferry, day trips can comfortably include a visit to the beautiful Inishowen peninsula in Co. Donegal.
There is just so much to do around here - and the hotel has original entertainment organised on-site too, including a unique 'Thursday night is movie night' package offering dinner and a classic movie in their own little cinema, complete with complimentary popcorn (see hotel website for schedule).
The inn is understandably popular and it can be hard to get a booking in high season, but it is a wonderfully cosy place for an off-season break - and good value too.
Rooms 41 (1 suite, 4 junior suites, 20 ground floor, 2 family, 2 disabled, all no smoking). B&B from about £89 pps. Free broadband wi/fi; children welcome (cot available). No pets. Garden. Fishing (fly). *Short breaks offered.
The inn is known for its wholesome food and it makes a good place to plan a break when touring, as it offers both day and evening menus in cosy surroundings (although be warned that coaches often make a lunchtime stop here for the same reasons, so it can be very busy).
Pride in Irish ingredients is seen in A Taste of Ulster menus that offer a range of traditional dishes with a modern twist. An unusual speciality, for example, is Dalriada cullen skink: illustrating the social and culinary history that this area of Ireland shares with Scotland, this is a ‘meal in a soup bowl’ of Scottish origin, based on smoked haddock and topped with an (optional) poached egg. Another tempting dish is onion & Guinness soup, which is topped with a cheese croûton like the French soup that inspired it.
And to finish, of course, what else but ‘Bushmills coffee’ - which is better than a dessert any day.