Shandon Hotel and Spa, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal.
The Him decided to finally whisk me off for a romantic break in The Shandon Hotel and Spa.
Since it reopened in March 2016, we’ve heard only gushing reports about it so have been very much looking forward to visiting ourselves.
We’re a fussy pair you know? When we do get a little time away on our own, we like exciting food, comfortable and clean surroundings and a little bit of luxury. The Shandon gave us all this and more.
Check-in was efficient and quick and friendly. The foyer is beautiful; very tastefully decorated and perfect for relaxing with a paper or simply enjoying the amazing views of Sheephaven Bay.
Because we visited at Christmas, it had the added sparkle and romance of the Christmas trees and seasonal decorations; beautiful.
Our room was on the third floor. It was large, spacious and ever so clean. The bathroom was small but cleverly appointed, making excellent use of the space. Again, pristine cleanliness. (I love clean…did I mention that?) The window was massive, and like every room in the hotel, overlooked the bay and offered stunning views of the area.
Tea/coffee and shortbread, a safe and all the usual. The only thing I missed were robes, but no biggy.
(Our only issue on arrival was that when we got to the third floor, it became clear that there was major work/renovation being carried out upstairs. The noise was deafening. We checked with reception who immediately apologised and assured us that the workmen would be finished shortly and wouldn’t be starting until 10am the next morning. We were happy enough with this, but had we not been booked into the spa at 10am and had we been anticipating a lazy morning until Check out, I would not have been impressed. A small issue for us, but it might have beena disappointment for others, and perhaps we might have been made aware on booking that renovations are underway at certain times.)
But first impressions were good and we instantly relaxed, knowing that we were in for a perfect “switch off”.
Feed me Now!
The hotel bar is comfortable and cozy and has a full wall of window.
It seems that no matter where you go in the building, you are able to see the famous view. It’s wonderful. We enjoyed lunch in the bar and were treated to good conversation and excellent G&T by the lovely Gary.
There was absolutely no problem when I asked for a variation to the Gin menu. He was more than happy to accommodate Little Miss Fussy Knickers here.😂 After lunch, I ordered a glass of wine. I wanted a glass of Malbec, but it only came by the bottle. Gary suggested that he could open the bottle and have it in the restaurant for us for our dinner booking. This is the first time that I have ever been offered this in a busy hotel. We were hugely impressed, and true to his word, the bottle was in the restaurant for us when we arrived that night.
Lunch was superb. The menu is impressive and the wine list and gin menus are extensive. If you visit, you MUST try the Salt and Chilli Prawns. They were HUGE, perfectly cooked and subtly flavoured. The only other place I have had prawns that good, was in a seaside restaurant in Portugal. They were so good that I ordered them again for lunch the next day. The Him had Salmon which was also superb. (The Steak burger he had for lunch the following day was incredible too.) We figured that if lunch was this good, then we were in for a treat at dinner.
We figured right.
The service was perfect. The food was divine. I had a duck confit to start and Seabass (with more of those prawns!) for my main, followed by a Cheese board to match any I’ve had before. The Him had a Crab starter (yum!), a perfectly cooked steak and a lemon tart to finish. There was a sorbet between courses and the Guinness Bread to start was gorgeous.
(I don’t have pics of the dinner as we left the phones in the safe for the evening…imagine!? 😂💖)
The next morning.
Breakfast was excellent; your typical hotel breakfast, but again the standard was high, with lots of little touches like “Shandon Detox water” with lemon and cucumber and homemade smoothies. Very good.
The Shandon Spa.
We had hoped to visit this on arrival, but it was fully booked. (Check with the spa for availability as early as possible to avoid disappointment.) In hindsight, it was a much better way to do it anyway as rather than have breakfast and head home, we felt like we had a second day away! We checked out after breakfast, threw the bags in the car and were in the spa as it opened at 10am. Again, it was superb; the Reception, the staff, the changing rooms (soooo clean! 😅) and atmosphere was quiet, relaxing and gentle.
We were first into the Thermal Suite that morning.
Ladybelles, it is THE nicest spa I have been to in Ireland.
It is bright and spacious with a spectacular glass wall, again overlooking the bay. Jacuzzi, pressure/massage showers, tropical showers, a herb infused sauna and a little room filled with essential oil steam are only a few of the facilities. It is first class.
Sipping bubbles in the bubbles!
We spent an hour in the Thermal Suite and then headed out to the famous Hot Tub on the balcony. You know when you anticipate something for so long that it ends up a disappointment?
Yeah, well that did NOT happen.
We were brought two glasses of chilled prosecco and spent 20 glorious minutes sipping bubbles in the bubbles! It was baltic that morning; cars were frozen in the carpark; my wet hair was frozen by the time we got out; but we were toasty warm and afterwards, you can warm up on the heated marble loungers inside. The tub is magical. It is EVERYTHING I hoped it would be and EVERYONE needs to experience it.
We were then taken off for our treatments. The Him had booked the Spa Sensation Package so we were getting Full Body massages. My therapist was Rita and she was brilliant. The relaxation room offered fruit and water and more views of the bay. We stayed there for about 15 minutes before returning to the changing rooms. Afterwards, you can chill with a selection of teas and coffee in yet another room with sea views beside reception. There are also soft drinks, wine and prosecco available for purchase. What I loved most about this was the lack of rush.
So many other spas tend to want you to leave ASAP after your treatment. “When you’re ready” generally carries the subtext of “Hurry along now!”, but not in The Shandon. We could have sat there drinking tea and enjoying the view (yes again!) for as long as we liked. It really was the most relaxing few hours and I have it on good authority that The Him loved it every bit as much as I did.
Overall, The Shandon Hotel and Spa really is a jewel in the Wild Atlantic Way. It is beautifully appointed, well run and the food and service are equal to any we have enjoyed in any 5 star hotel, both at home and abroad. The spa is exceptional and the setting is perfect. And for us, the fact that it is only a 30 minute drive from home meant that we could escape for 24 hours and still be home quickly to the girls. 💖💖
We returned home completely relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to start the hectic New Year. For some quality time as a couple, it is the perfect location. We only wish we had been able to go over earlier on the first day so we might have gone for a walk on the gorgeous beach and had a look at the leisure centre and pool…
We can’t wait to visit again, and might just have to make it an annual anniversary trip. (But I’m already planning a night with my Girls in February, because as romantic as it is, it would also be the perfect spot for a girly catch up, gossip and giggles and some first class pampering. Sssssh! I won’t tell Him just yet! 😂💙)
Congratulations to the Shandon team on creating a magical hideaway, right on our doorstep.
If you’d like more information, here’s their website. http://shandonhotelspa.com
And find me on Bookface @the.s.mum for polite and shy daily musings about motherhood… 😂
The Shandon Hotel and Spa gets a Super 💋💋💋💋💋from The S-Mum!
Please note: I write this review simply because I feel like it and because the hotel deserves it. We paid for our stay in full and I have no ulterior reason for my gushing, other than having had a wonderful time.