Set in woods above the Glashaboy River this traditional hotel was once the home of Lord and Lady Crawford, founders of the Beamish Brewery.
It has since been added to and many of the rooms are in the newer section, but it has retained an old world ambience and is known for old fashioned comfort and the friendliness of the staff, which give the hotel a homely atmosphere.
The attractive location makes this a popular wedding venue, and midweek business guests like the quiet situation, desk space (in the mini suites) and good food (see below).
And, with attractions such as Trabolgan, Monkey Maze, Jungle World and Fota Wildlife Park nearby, this is also a good destination for family breaks - it’s very family friendly, with villas available as well as hotel accommodation, children’s menu and a kids eat free offer for Sunday brunch.
Rooms 48 (some shower only). B&B from €25pps. DB&B from €59pps.
Mabel Crawford’s Bistro
Unusually for an hotel restaurant, this atmospheric bistro is a popular dining destination in its own right. This is partly down to the unique setting - the restaurant is in several individually furnished rooms which were once the kitchens and pantry of the old house and, with original fireplaces and many quirky details, it offers interesting dining areas for anything from a table for two up to a large party.
But there is much more than atmosphere to this smart-casual restaurant, where modern European cooking is the stated style but great pride is taken in highlighting local suppliers and showcasing their excellent produce, while also providing value for money.
There is even a four course Guaranteed Irish Menu at just €25, but the prices on the extensive general menu, boosted by daily specials, are also reasonable and much of that too is Irish.
According to these interesting and informative menus, the Irish Angus Beef is supplied by O’Connell Meats; fresh fish is delivered daily from Good Fish; all the fruit and vegetables are delivered fresh every morning from Waterfall Farm, just a stone’s throw away. Soups, sauces, and desserts are made in-house, and any bread they don’t bake themselves comes from the famous Twomey’s Bakery.
All bases are covered on menus - in fact it can be hard to make choices from the wide range offered. Vegetarians, coeliacs and children are well looked after (the kids menu is actually designed by kids) and, while most of the dishes may be familiar, the difference is in the quality of ingredients, skilful cooking and pleasing but not too cheffy presentation.
Highlights from a big choice of starters might include a dashing dish of steamed crayfish, tossed with sautéed baby new potatoes, pineapple, red peppers and coated with a sweet chilli and coriander dressing; fish main courses are tempting too, and include daily specials - a lovely grilled fillet of lemon sole, with prawn, tomatoes and parsley butter, perhaps - but you could equally well enjoy a wide range of dishes here, including really good steak.
Service is friendly and efficient and, while not very extensive, the wine list is appropriate and includes a couple of reds and whites by the glass; there is full bar service too - although no local craft beers or ciders, unfortunately.