Prominently located on the promenade of this heritage town, the Sir Walter Raleigh has its origins in three 18th century townhouses and has been run as an hotel since 1902.
Named after the Elizabethan adventurer who was so famously associated with Youghal, it has been central to the life of the town for as long as anyone can remember. Following a period of decline, ‘the Walter’ came into dynamic new ownership in late 2012 when Grace and Nick Ryan bought the property and instigated a whirlwind round of renovation. To the delight of all, it re-opened in jig time with a smart coat of paint, new kitchens, totally refurbished ground floor (lobby, dining room and bar) and an upbeat vibe not felt for many a year.
Renovation of the bedrooms - which are spread over three floors, with many overlooking the Blackwater Estuary and the sea - came next. Planned in several phases, this was still a work in progress when the hotel re-opened and, while all have the usual services (tea/coffee making, room service, complimentary Wi-Fi etc), it is advisable to check on refurbishment when booking. Residents’ breakfast is served in a lovely room beside reception.
Due to the age of the building, rooms vary according to their position, with the high ceilinged first floor rooms being the most spacious; different options are available to suit everything from a single guest to a family room.
Visitors who relish the quirky details of old buildings will enjoy a stay here and Youghal is well placed for exploring a large, interesting and exceptionally lovely area of Ireland including the heritage town of Cobh and beautiful West Waterford.
Rooms 38. B&B from €79 per room.
Whether eating in the comfortable and attractively revamped Atlantic Lounge bar restaurant or the Park View Restaurant, some tables enjoy a view of Youghal Bay - all the better to enjoy what promises to be an excellent meal.
Head Chef James Hallinan’s menus are very appealing, offering something interesting for everyone from breakfast through to dinner, and with an eye to seasonality and local produce - fish comes from just outside the window, for example, and the butcher is along the street.
Good local ingredients are well used here. Early arrivals might enjoy a wholesome Toasted Breakfast of bacon, sausage and tomato with hand cut chips, and a good sandwich selection features later too, along with heartier dishes such as the house Clock Tower Burger (with crispy bacon, Knockanore Oak Smoked cheese and hand cut chips) or perhaps Tuscan Chicken (supreme of chicken stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese).
For a more structured meal, you could begin with a humble fish cake - not so humble here in fact, rather a terrific starter, served with a salmon and prawn roulade, a mixed baby leave salad, cucumber and organic yoghurt; a lovely dish that tastes as good as it looks.
There may also be steamed local mussels in a marinière sauce, served with house made rosemary focaccia bread - or, for a more piquant option, perhaps the Five Spice Calamari, consisting of vodka and tonic battered calamari with chilli, garlic and red onion and a house made lemon and basil mayo.
Daily specials may offer roast beef and roast pork specials and also extra fish - a superb dish of pan fried hake, for example, perhaps with a seafood and pea risotto and a little bowl of tempting mussels on the side.
But many will come here specially for the local beef - a well presented 21 days aged 10 ounce rib-eye steak, for example, perfectly cooked and served with an eye catching stack of crispy onion rings, Portobello mushroom, hand cut chips and a pepper sauce.
Desserts may include favourites like crème brûlée, warm chocolate brownie and apple crumble and, more unusually, a house made port wine trifle as well as a locally sourced cheese plate.
To accompany, a short but adequate wine list offers a reasonable choice of wines by the glass and bottle. From the reds, try the Santa Anna Shiraz Malbec from Argentina while the French les Jamelles oak-free Chardonnay is a good white. And there is a good selection of teas and coffees to finish off your meal.