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, Daniel O'Brien, who took on the kitchen in 2012, 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 area also feature strongly, some of them from named producers - St Tola goats cheese, for example, and excellent Burren lamb and beef - and valued suppliers are listed on the menu.
Ingredients are used in a creative modern style, in starters such as warm herb-crusted St Tola goats cheese with candied walnut, beetroot and organic leaf salad and Liscannor crab claws, served with local samphire and a light chilli butter (a big hit on a recent visit - wonderful, fresh and succulent) and a main courses will include delicious Burren lamb - rump, perhaps, with truffled pomme puree, red wine jus - pink and perfect. Beautiful summer desserts might include an updated classic such as marinated Wexford strawberries soup with meringue abd butter shortbread,
The dinner menu offers less choice (and a lower proportion of seafood), but it is very good value and presented in a series of beautifully cooked dishes including lovely desserts, and a well chosen local cheese selection.
The standard of cooking is highly professional and presentation is immaculate - the aim is to offer a balance between fine dining and popular local choices and this is achieved very well, ensuring a good mix of residents and local diners.
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.
Top quality food, backed up by excellent service and hospitality(Michael Vaughan is an attentive and charming host), has made this is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the area - and consistently maintained standards ensure that it stays that way.