In a country like Ireland – sprawled with patchworks of greenery and rural life – a driving trip would be the best way to explore its countryside and cities, and get a real taste of the country. As a relatively small nation, driving distances from one attraction/destination to the next are usually not more than 4 hours.
Our whirlwind journey through Ireland saw us driving from Dublin, the eastern edge of Ireland to the western end, where Ashford Castle provided an amazing peek into the area’s history. Our experience in Ireland continued on from County Mayo through stunning prairies-studded County Clare. Weaving past patchworks of natural greenery, we cruised past herds of cows and sheeps, and one traditional Irish cottage after another.
Passing Limerick, we veered onto the coastal highway, meandering close to the craggy shoreline. The drive was extremely pleasant as we drank in the stunning views, with the sea breeze in our hair and clear skies above our heads.
Cliffs of Moher
Our next destination was, as everyone said it, a must-see in Ireland. So we marked it out on our map and made it a point to stop at the reputed Cliffs of Moher. Stepping close to the edge of the cliffs, we could see the cliff walls plunge straight into the crashing waves – sheer adrenaline! It was definitely one of the most impressive cliff formations I’ve seen, dropping to hundreds of meters in straight vertical cuts – almost as if the Earth had split along that exact crack line.
Snaking past narrow driveways inland this time, we continued towards our final destination – Ardmore, Waterford. This quiet, isolated corner of Southeastern Ireland is secretly tucked away from the usual tourist trail. This explains why its beaches remain relatively empty and waters surprisingly pristine and clear.
Pulling in at Ardmore Beach, the rain started pouring and we spent the evening chuggin back some Irish beers at a local pub. Although it literally rained the whole time we were there, I could clearly see the allure of Ardmore: a small, historical beach town perfect for doing nothing but unwind.
Cliff House Hotel
Besides uncovering a gem of a beach town, our main purpose here was to check out the contemporary and stylish property – Cliff House Hotel. Perched above the craggy cliff tops overlooking Ardmore Bay, the 39-room boutique hotel makes seafront living a rather unique experience.
Cliff House Hotel, converted from an old traditional house, is now a Relais and Chateaux property and notably the most tastefully-designed hotel in the region. With a striking all-white exterior and state-of-the-art facilities (the in-room sound system and futuristic sinks), it is evidently on the edge of hotel technology. But at the same time, its edgy character is softened by the rustic brick-walled interior and teak furnishing. The hotel’s marine-blue, aubergine and sea green colors combined with antique wooden houseboat decor also creates a vintage cruise ship feel.
Every single room in the hotel opens up to a view of the sea. My suite – separated into the living and sleeping areas – is brightly lit by natural sunlight, giving a cheery air to the design.
The most striking feature of the hotel rooms is its impressive bathroom: decked out in blue-green mosaic tiles, stainless steel basins and a futuristic oval-shaped bathtub.
Eating at Cliff House Hotel is an experience that alone is worth a visit. The hotel’s House Restaurant is Ireland’s only One Star Michelin Hotel Restaurant, an honorary title that has its chef to thank for.
Martijn Kajuiter, the resident chef, whips up innovative eats that evidently retains a touch of old Ireland.
This starter (pictured on the left) is a concoction of goat cheese, chicken pate and smoked salmon. The dinner special set includes a savory main course: beef fillet accentuated with mushroom gravy. Top notch!
Disclaimer: My stay was sponsored by the Cliff House Hotel, but all opinions are my own.
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