There has been a hotel on the beach at Garryvoe since the early 1900s, but perhaps none as comfortable and sophisticated as John and Carmel O’Brien's four-star Garryvoe Hotel, thanks to their recent renovations.
An older sister property to the Bayview Hotel, nearby at Ballycotton, this independent hotel with a reputation for great service and family-friendliness has been operating since 1963 and boasts an unbeatable location. Right across the road from the five-mile-long blue flag beach at Ballycotton Bay and with wonderful views of the Ballycotton lighthouse perched atop its tiny island, the Garryvoe is a magical family holiday destination and with its wide range of amenities (including wheelchair accessibility in all areas) has particular appeal for multi-generational groups.
The bar, library and Samphire restaurant on the ground floor got a face lift in 2016 and now have a decadent, luxurious feel with dark colours. The Samphire space (which doubles as the breakfast area) has pops of bright colours from the upholstery, while the library has a more sumptuous feel, with sparkling chandeliers, fireplaces and big leather sofas.
The rooms are very well appointed and all are larger than the standard size and either have sea views to the east or views of the rolling East Cork countryside to the west, so it’s a win either way.
Local food is given high priority in the hotel’s restaurants, as chef Kevin O'Sullivan sources local, in-season seafood, meat and other produce. The Samphire is the hotel’s fine dining option but it’s billed as a ‘social eating space’ and it’s easy to see why, as it’s located just off the reception area in a big open plan room with a lot of through traffic. If you’re looking for something more casual or tucked-away, try the Lighthouse Bistro or relax in front of the open fire at the Cave Bar with a drink and a bite of bar food.
With such an enviable site and excellent service, it’s no surprise that the Garryvoe Hotel is a popular wedding venue - and, indeed, recent awards would confirm the view held by many happy couples that it is In fact the Best Wedding Venue in Ireland. The hotel also offers conference and meeting facilities and can accommodate anywhere from a dozen to 450 delegates.
The new health club is a point of pride too, boasting East Cork’s only two-lane 25m lap pool, splash pool and water jet massage as well as an aqua jogging ring. There’s also a 1,200 square foot gym and an aerobics studio that is available for all guests to use.
Located just half an hour’s drive from Cork City, this is a good base from which to explore East Cork’s many attractions, including the Ballymaloe Cookery School and Organic Farm, which is just 5 minutes down the road, as well as Fota House and Arboretum, Stephen Pearce Pottery and the Jameson Heritage and Whiskey Centre.