Set in landscaped grounds on an elevated site overlooking Westport town, Adrian & Geraldine Noonan's Victorian-style hotel has been welcoming guests to this lovely town since 1997. Meanwhile, the hotel has built up an enviable reputation for good food, relaxing spa breaks, weddings and - since the more recent development of a conference and meeting area – for business-focused events too.
A welcoming open fire and friendly staff at reception create an agreeably warm atmosphere: the foyer sets the tone for an hotel which has been built on a generous scale and is full of contrasts, with spacious public areas balanced by smaller, more intimate ones - notably the library and drawing room - where guests can relax in more homely surroundings.
The bedrooms tend to be large – a number of very spacious suites have four poster beds and sunken seating areas with great views - and most are very comfortable. Many of the rooms have fine views across the town to Croagh Patrick and some bathrooms have jacuzzi baths. And guests can make full use of the hotel’s excellent leisure facilities at ‘Spa Salveo’ health spa, which includes nine treatment rooms, a swimming pool, gym, and hair salon.
Conferences/Banqueting (600/350); business centre; secretarial services; free broadband wi/fi; laptop-sized safes in bedrooms. Destination Spa. Fitness room, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, beauty salon. Equestrian and fishing nearby. Children welcome (under 10s free in parents' room, cots available free of charge, baby sitting arranged).
Rooms 97 (10 suites, 36 grand deluxe, 8 junior suites, 3 shower only, all no smoking, 3 family, 4 for disabled.) Lift. 24 hr room service. B&B from about €65 pps, ss applies. Closed 22-27 Dec.
The traditional décor of the hotel dining room, La Fougère (“the fern”), provides a suitably neutral backdrop to the views across the handsome town of Westport out to Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick, and the impressive cooking of the talented and critically acclaimed Euro-Toques chef, Seamus Commons, and a team that includes Mary Ryan, the 2011 winner of the prestigious Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year award.
Seamus Commons is known for taking particular delight in contrasts of flavour, texture and colour; his cooking takes local ingredients and classic French technique as its starting point but has been allowed to develop its own individualism.
The culinary highlight that draws discerning guests here is the eight-course tasting menu, but the menus offered include a fairly priced table d'hote dinner menu and an à la carte (from which dishes may be chosen, at a supplement).
Choosing from the à la carte, you might start with some Clew Bay scallops, in a creation than ingeniously integrates a celeriac remoulade, crab wrap, chorizo aioli, a red pepper & lemongrass reduction and oyster cress (an intriguing garnish, with salty oyster-flavoured leaves).
Mains may showcase Commons’ leaning towards presenting several renditions of one ingredient: for example, an early summer main course of seared loin of mountain hogget (an honest term for ‘lamb’ that is a year or so old, i.e. young sheep), is served with the braised neck, alongside caper & raisins, a carrot & rosemary purée and white asparagus.
Although you could opt for cheese (Irish farmhouse selection, with spiced chutney and a leaf salad), the beautiful desserts are hard to pass on, and might include a chocolate tasting plate bringing together a whole range of temptations, such as chocolate brownie mousse, parfait, pavé and white chocolate panna cotta - and the petits fours that come with the coffee are yet another occasion of sin.
This accomplished kitchen team is complemented in the restaurant by a professional, attentive and well-informed front-of-house team, although the level of service offered to those eating in the bar is much more casual.
The extensive and informative La Fougère wine list is a special point of pride. The collection of over 270 wines is categorised by country of origin and by region, with tasting notes on each one. Guests are welcome to tour the large glass-fronted walk-through wine cellar, and sommelier Nick Faujour is always happy to help.
The wine list includes some interesting offerings from local wine merchant Liam Cabot (including a Slovenian Miro Munda Sipon which, at about €25, makes an excellent value alternative to a Sancerre) and offers the opportunity for good value by the glass or bottle, as well as a chance to splash out on something special.
The hotel, and Head Chef Seamus Commons, are strong supporters of local foods and they host special food-related events throughout the year including a Seafood & Shellfish weekend, Game nights in season, and the Taste of Knockranny event, designed to showcase local produce.