Michael and Maria Vaughan's hotel - purpose-built to high specifications, mainly with the comfort of golfers in mind - offers peace and relaxation within easy walking distance of the town centre. They see it as a 'designer country house hotel' and that is a fair description, especially given their own hospitality, which is a combination of genuine warmth and professional expertise.
Pleasing contemporary design combines with quality materials and a great sense of space in large, clean-lined bedrooms and public areas - including a clubby bar with leather easy chairs and sofas which golfers, in particular, are sure to enjoy; the decor is low key and the ambience throughout is that of a comfortable gentleman's club.
Michael cooks breakfast for guests himself, and the timing for this is interesting (and could be taken up by others): "come down when you're up"!
A drying room is available for golfers' or walkers' wet clothing.
Vaughan Lodge caters for small weddings up to 70 people.
Rooms 22 (1 junior suite, 4 executive, 6 ground floor, 1 shower only, all no smoking); B&B €125 pps, ss €40. All day room service. Lift. Ample parking space. No Pets.
Run as a stand-alone restaurant specialising in seafood, this is a large, spacious room and dark polished wood tables, crisp linen runners and elegant table settings set the tone for some fine cooking.
Head chef, John Gilmartin, who took on the kitchen in 2015, previously worked here as sous chef; he is the latest in a succession of talented chefs at this excellent restaurant - and, as is the custom here, his menus are refreshingly to the point and written in clear, accurate English. Fresh local seafood accounts for over half of the à la carte menu in summer, with the selection offered typically including line-caught mackerel as well as seabass, hake, monkfish, mussels, scallops and organic salmon.
Interesting artisan foods from the area also feature strongly, some of them from named producers, and valued suppliers are listed on the menu.
Ingredients are used in a creative modern style, with key starters based on local seafood, notably Liscannor crab claws, and St Tola goat cheese. Main courses also offer a lot of local fish, delicious Burren lamb and perhaps Skeaghanore duck from West Cork; foraged ingredients may feature in season too - as in whole Dover Sole with samphire.
To accompany, the wide-ranging wine list (grouped by price) includes a strong house selection (8 wines), useful tasting notes and a good choice of half bottles.
The dinner menu offers less choice (and a lower proportion of seafood), but it is very good value and includes a well chosen local cheese selection. The aim is to offer a balance between fine dining and popular local choices, attracting a good mix of residents and local diners.
Quality food plus excellent service and hospitality (Michael Vaughan is an attentive and charming host), have made this one of the area's most highly regarded restaurants - and a favourite destination for many.