Last week we had the chance to take some time off work together, something we were both in desperate need of. We’ve both continued working throughout the pandemic, and hadn’t really had any time off since the beginning of February. Needless to say, we were beginning to feel burnt out, so a little bit of R&R was needed.
First up was an overnight stay at Castle Leslie, located in County Monaghan. This beautiful hotel is situated just over the border, and has the most beautiful grounds to walk around. You can choose to stay in either the castle itself, or the lodge. We chose to book ourselves into the lodge, as the rooms looked more modern and to our style. We were not disappointed in the slightest. Our room was more like a small studio apartment, minus a kitchen. With a massive bed, a sofa for chilling on and easily the nicest bathroom we’ve ever had, it was one of those rooms you don’t want to leave when checkout time comes.
We spent the day walking around the grounds taking photographs, although in typical Irish fashion the rain was never far away from us. We also went for afternoon tea, something we had never had before. After a quick drink in the bar we headed back to our amazing room to get ready for dinner. A delicious four course dinner followed by a couple of drinks in the bar and then back to bed.
We did feel like the service was quite hit or miss at times during our stay, and to be honest wasn’t on par with other hotels of that level that we’ve stayed at in the past. Overall though a lovely stay at Castle Leslie, with beautiful surroundings and delicious food (easily the best breakfast we’ve had out by far!) We left feeling the most refreshed we’ve been in a long time.
Next it was on to County Down, and the wonderful Slieve Donard. We booked this night as a last-minute thing while we were in Castle Leslie because we weren’t ready to go home and stop living the high life. So we headed off from Castle Leslie towards Newcastle. When we arrived the Mourne Mountains were completely hidden behind a veil of clouds, with no clearing up in sight. We were quite early when we arrived, and our room wasn’t ready, so we decided to go to the Percy French for a bit of lunch. We ended up getting a great deal, as they had a set menu offer on, along with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. We enjoyed a delicious meal, a couple of drinks, and the lovely relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant.
Afterwards we made our way back up to the hotel to get our room. This one wasn’t as nice as the one we’d had in Castle Leslie, nor was it as nice as previous rooms we’ve had in the Slieve Donard. But that was our fault – we chose to book a standard double, rather than the superior we’d usually book while staying. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys spending time in their room, we’d recommend paying that little bit extra when staying here. Because while our room was perfectly clean, and comfortable, we really did miss the space, and those sweeping views of the Mournes.
We had another lovely meal in the Oak restaurant for dinner, and again a few more drinks in the bar. It was nice to see that the hotel had a real buzz about it, while still feeling like it was taking the necessary precautions with Covid-19. Slieve Donard is probably our favourite place to stay in Northern Ireland, and Hastings in general just never let us down. The setting is always beautiful, the food delicious, the atmosphere relaxed, and the staff are always incredibly friendly and helpful.
After checking out of Slieve Donard on Tuesday we made our way back home to a bit more normality. We spent the next few days just chilling out in the house, and then went for a drive up to Ballygally Castle on Friday afternoon for some lunch and a dander around the gardens. It was the first time we’d been back since getting married almost 3 years ago, and it was lovely to be back.
We finished off the week at a family BBQ on Saturday. Overall a great week off together, and a well needed one. We went back to work feeling more refreshed. And the best part is that we don’t have to wait as long for our next bit of time off! So watch this space for more updates on what we get up to.
Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!
Brianna and Iain