This handsome 19th century hotel in Clifden town centre has played a central role in the hospitality of the area for many a year - proprietor Eddie Foyle is related to a number of key players including brothers Paddy and Billy (Quay House and Dolphin Beach), and the hotel was their family home.
Today, traditional family-run hotels like Foyles are becoming a rarity - but they're also more widely recognised for the jewels that they are, and increasingly precious with each passing year.
Stepping in off the street into the old-fashioned foyer/lounge - a comfortable space with well worn settees, gas fire, fussy florid carpet and a bavarian-style wooden staircase leading to bedrooms - is like stepping back in time, and it is a very calming experience.
Upstairs, the hotel’s Victorian origins are seen in pleasingly wide corridors (hooped dresses were in fashion at the time), and large, well-proportioned rooms - which are comfortably old-fashioned, with good beds and modern bathrooms. Even the hotel website seems to be in a wonderful time warp, with its pride in 'modern conveniences' and central heating included 'as standard'- and 'non-smoking rooms (on request)'.
And, true to its roots, you’ll find hands-on family management, and interested service from pleasant staff who are happy to help guests to get the most from their visit to the area.
Rooms 25. B&B from about €35 pps, ss €10. Closed Christmas & Jan.
Welcoming window views of tables set up with white linen cloths and napkins, candles and pretty floral bouquets in old cups-as-vases are visible from the public footpath - and may well attract you in to this popular restaurant, which is accessible from the street or through the hotel.
Barely audible jazz plays in a quirkily attractive and comfortable French-feeling room displaying memorabilia and artefacts - the Marconi connection with the town, Alcock & Brown’s remarkable trans-Atlantic flight and landing near Clifden and, right in the middle of the restaurant, a redundant merchant navy compass.
Look out for the zany painting depicting famous former visitors to the hotel in chef’s uniform - you may recognise Winston Churchill and Seamus Heaney, and perhaps be tempted to guess the identity of others.
Warm, relaxed staff present an extensive à la carte menu offering plenty of local seafood (mussels steamed in chilli & coconut broth; crabmeat terrine with smoked salmon; lovely, simple fried fillets of lemon sole in parsley butter), balanced by meat dishes such as lamb shank with mustard mash or pork fillet with pear & apple crisps, and at least one vegetarian dish.
The cooking can sometimes be a little uneven but excellent raw materials are used and it is very good value, especially the early dinner - 3 courses from the à la carte for about €25; available to 6.45pm only.
A conservative, well-priced wine list includes 6 half bottles and a choice of house wines.