Martin and Marguerite Howley’s beautifully located clifftop hotel has wonderful sea and coastal views over the ruined castle after which it is named. It is a comfortable and relaxing place to stay, with a little bar, a residents’ sitting room and a large decked terrace that can be covered with an awning in a good summer, so meals may be served outside.
A charming feature in a sheltered corner is an enclosed flower garden, supplying herbs to the kitchen and fresh flowers for the restaurant.
Most of the bedrooms have sea views and all are quite large with a double and single bed, refurbished bathrooms (some with full bath) and all the necessary facilities including digital TV as well as phone and tea/coffee trays.
The bedrooms have all been recently refurbished, and they are more contemporary and gently stylish, with a more spacious feeling. But each has its own style and they have retained the mixture of modern and older pieces that gives each room its own character. There's even a sunny area on the sheltered flat roof at the back of the building that has direct access from some bedrooms.
Lovely breakfasts are served in the restaurant, and an appealing bar menu is offered too.
Banqueting (80); free broadband wi/fi. Children welcome (under 5s free in parents room, cots available, baby sitting arranged). Pets permitted to stay in bedrooms by arrangement (no charge). Garden. Walking. Off-season value breaks.
Rooms 10 (6 shower only, 2 family, all no smoking). B&B €50pps, ss €10 Feb-Aug & B&B €40pps, ss €10 Sep-Dec.
The restaurant is on the seaward corner of the hotel overlooking the sea and the castle (which is floodlit at night), and an open fire makes for real warmth in this dramatic location, even in winter. There has always been a French influence in the kitchen and there is a consistent house style, with a strong emphasis on local produce.
Menus are well priced and there is plenty to choose from, including vegetarian dishes. Seafood is the speciality of the house in the summer months - dedicated local fishermen fish lobster, monk, scallops and other fish for the kitchen.
Menus open with starters like a house speciality of prawns & monkfish in garlic butter, and may also offer a choice of local oysters (fresh or grilled) - and non-fishy treats like terrine of foie gras; main course choices are extensive, perhaps including less usual dishes like stuffed rabbit saddle with black pudding & Calvados, roast pheasant (in season), and at least one vegetarian option as well as seafood dishes; it’s good value too, even the supplement for lobster, from McSwynes Bay, is quite reasonable. In winter, when seafood is less plentiful, there are more red meats, poultry and game.
Service, under the direction of proprietor manager Marguerite Howley, is friendly and accommodating - and the wonderful location, helpful staff and interesting food make this a place people keep coming back to.
Advice is also at hand to ensure the best wine to match your food choices - complementing the menu, the wine list leans towards the Old World, particularly France; it offers good house wines, a pair each of organic and non-alcoholic wines, an extensive selection of champagnes and plenty of half bottles.
[NB: The Sunday lunch menu is quite traditional, with less emphasis on seafood.]
*Cookery Classes - Five week block courses run throughout the year, details on application.