Right in the centre of the pretty village of Killyleagh and near the entrance to its fairytale castle, Leontine Haines’ lovely Georgian house is a delightful place to stay close to the shores of beautiful Strangford Lough.
Formerly a bank, it’s next door to The Dufferin Arms Pub and painted in the same attractive lemon and blue colour scheme but – except that you might find it handy to pop in there for a bite to eat, or just a pint and some craic – the two businesses are unconnected.
Arriving guests are welcomed by a handsome front door with classical columns, a Georgian fanlight and a profusion of tumbling pot plants and, once inside, you’ll find the impressively well-proportioned rooms and original features of the period.
But Leontine - a former nurse who spent seven years preparing the property for its current use - is a very down to earth and friendly host, and the house reflects her personality. It’s nice and laid-back so, although stylishly done up with old country furniture (and immaculately maintained), it’s not at all formal and genuinely warm hospitality from Leontine and her staff ensures that the emphasis is on comfort and relaxation.
The seven bedrooms vary according to their position in the old building, but all are lovely and have both bath and shower in the en-suite bathrooms, also robes and other nice little extras. The larger rooms may have a king-size four-poster bed and a whirlpool bath, while others have a sitting room, but each is delightful in its way.
A cooked to order breakfast is served in the elegant dining room and, showcasing local foods like free range eggs, sausages and bacon from the family butcher, potato cakes, soda farls from the village bakery and yogurt from Clandeboye Estate near Bangor, for example, it will be a great start to the day.
But this is not ‘just a guesthouse’. Unbelievable as it may seem when looking at the house from the street, the beautiful old arch leading to the former coach house is now the entrance to a seriously atmospheric venue catering for weddings and private parties, with a full bar. Worth looking at while you’re there, whether or not you have a family event in the offing.