Cliff House Hotel
, Cliff Road, Ardmore, Co Waterford.
Perhaps not as small as some, but not so large either; and Wow! What a position! The Cliff House Hotel clings to the side of the cliff at Ardmore, facing out into Ardmore Bay yet sheltered from the westerly wind. This quite possibly the finest small 5 Star hotel in Ireland.
The luxury spa, The Well, takes its name from the sacred spring at St Declan’s Well, a short walk from the hotel. It includes a sauna, steam room and four treatment rooms – including a couple’s treatment room – offering serene luxury in a light, peaceful space and the stunning sea views that are everywhere at the Cliff House. The centrepiece of The Well is the 15m indoor infinity-edge swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling windows and ocean views, as if the pool is merging into the Irish Sea. Or for a more bracing swim, there is a natural outdoor rock pool which can be enjoyed at full tide, just below the hotel. Other exercise is accommodated by a fully-equipped fitness room, complete with crosstrainer, running machine and exercise bike.
There are two restaurants at the Cliff House, both offering the highest standards. The Michelin-starred House Restaurant is presided over by head chef Martijn Kajuiter who uses Irish produce to produce modern and progressive dishes unlike anything else you will find in Ireland. The relaxed Bar Restaurant (open every day from 11 am) offers a wide selection of sandwiches and seafood dishes, including monkfish, Helvick cod, local crab, and chowder. The rib-eye steaks are meltingly soft, while the desserts are classic Irish comfort food with a twist.
The bedrooms and suites are simply gorgeous. There is just no need to think about the facilities: they're all there. There is just the question of how much space you want or need, and whether you prefer to see the sea through a window, from a balcony or from a terrace. For a family or small group, there is also the self-catering option of the luxurious three bedroom Cliff Cottage.
The coastal location just a hour east from Cork airport and the ferry terminal means there are plenty of water activities nearby, whether it’s fishing the Blackwater or exploring Ardmore’s famous ‘Round Tower’, or sea kayaking, river kayaking, snorkelling, surfing and powerboating. The hotel even has it's own yacht moorings. Inland there is lots to see and do, including exploring Ardmore with its sandy beach, traditional music and thatched cottages. Youghal, at the mouth of the River Blackwater just 15 minutes away, is one of the best examples of a Norman walled port in Ireland. Nearby Dungarvan is a thriving seaside market town, and pretty Lismore – dominated by the castle – is possibly one of the country’s quaintest villages.