In one of the country’s most appealingly remote and beautiful areas, the Coyle family's famous Lutyens-esque house has a romantic and fascinating history, having been home to people as diverse as a Gaelic chieftain and Oliver St John Gogarty - and it became one of Ireland’s earliest country house hotels, in 1883. Since then it has seen many changes, culminating with major refurbishment in 2015 that saw the hotel achieve four star grading.
In good weather, it is best approached via a stunning scenic drive along a mountain road with views down into a blue-green sea of unparalleled clarity.
Once reached, the hotel seems to be snuggling down for shelter and, although it has limited views, there is a shift of emphasis to the comforts within, a feeling reinforced by the cosy atmosphere of the original building, with its dark beams, rug strewn floors and open fires - and a snug conservatory where guests can comfortably survey the garden, and the landscape beyond.
Photographs and mementos recording visits from the many famous people who have stayed here - Augustus John, Lady Gregory, Yeats and Churchill among them - keep guests happily occupied for hours, but there is plenty to distract you from this enjoyable activity, including a heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis, trout fishing, golf (9 hole), and croquet - while the surrounding area offers more challenging activities including archaeological expeditions, horse riding, hill walking, scuba diving and sea fishing.
Just loafing around is perhaps what guests are best at here, however, and there’s little need to do much else. The hotel’s bar food is excellent too - all this, plus the scent of a turf fire and a comfortable armchair, can be magic.
The grounds and gardens around the hotel are a special point of interest at Renvyle, and come as a delightful contrast to the magnificently rugged surrounding scenery.
As is usual in old houses, the bedrooms vary in size and style, but all are in keeping with the Arts & Crafts origins of this historic house, which has the simple, clean lines of the era and solid Irish oak and furniture featured throughout. The fabrics and furnishings are true to the spirit of the old house too, being made and woven by skilled local craftsmen whenever possible.
Special breaks (midweek, weekend and bank holiday) are very good value and, with so much to do and good facilities, it is an excellent choice for a family break, especially with older children (and your dog). Renvyle also makes an excellent conference venue.
*Renvyle House was selected for the one-off ‘Spirit of Ireland Award’ to celebrate the Guide’s 10th anniversary in 2008, and was our Family Friendly Hotel of the Year in 2009.
Conference/banqueting (200); secretarial services. Children welcome (under 2s free in parents' room, cots available (charge); kids club (seasonal), playroom, children's playground, children's tea, baby sitting (arranged). Pets permitted by arrangement (charge). Par 3 golf course, fly-fishing on private lake, all-weather tennis court, clay pigeon shooting, croquet, lawn bowls, sea angling, snooker.
Rooms 68: (3 Island Suites- family apartments, 4 suites, 2 junior suites, 40 no smoking, 18 ground floor, 8 single, 1 for disabled, 6 family rooms). B&B €45-€95 pp, no ss, no SC.
Roisin Dubh Restaurant:
Whilst bar lunches and light meals in the conservatory are very enjoyable during the day (and this is a great place to plan a break when touring the area), dinner at Renyle is an occasion to be relished.
The large dining room - which is cannily organised with a window along one side where parents can see their children in the supervised playroom next door - is formally appointed and there is a pianist at Count John McCormack’s concert Steinway every night, adding to the sense of occasion.
Along with Restaurant Manager, Philip Counihan, General Manager Ronnie Counihan is always on hand to chat with guests, and head chef Tim O’Sullivan looks after the inner man admirably.
An active member of Euro-Toques, Tim has promoted the food of the area for many years - and the excellent meals he produces are among the key attractions of the hotel. His menus feature local seafood and the best of Connemara’s seasonal produce, including Renvyle rack of lamb, local lobster, game and vegetables in season - and not only is his cooking spot on, but he has written a cookery book, so you can try out his recipes at home.
Tim has also recently launched a range of food products, including the house salad dressing, three-fruit marmalade, the picnic chutney used for their fishing and walking packed lunches - and Oliver St John Gogarty’s favourite condiment, apple & rosemary preserve, which is made with apples and rosemary from the garden and makes a great accompaniment to roasts and cold meats or terrines.
Roisin Dubh Restaurant was the winner of a Féile Bia Award in 2006.