Feeling spoilt rotten
Well I’m definitely fitting in lots of local travel before baby arrives! Last month I enjoyed a luxurious overnight stay in Ballymena and just last weekend Phill and I took the trip to Newcastle in County Down for a stay at the award winning Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. No one can doubt the grandeur of the beautiful Victorian Slieve Donard hotel building, which looks out towards the iconic Mourne Mountains. I visited the Slieve Donard spa for the first time back in February courtesy of McCombs Travel and had a wonderful time. This time around I got to enjoy the spa and an overnight stay courtesy of Hastings Hotels. Spoilt rotten, I know.
Phill and I packed up our suitcase and drove down to Newcastle early on Saturday morning. It had been years since we’d visited the picturesque seaside town of Newcastle together and we were looking forward to it. Both of us have fond memories of day trips to Newcastle as kids – playing on the beach, enjoying the amusements and a picnic with family. Unfortunately for us the weather was not on our side. We wanted sunshine not showers! It pretty much lashed with rain the whole weekend. Luckily, we’re hardened to the unpredictable Northern Irish summers and came prepared with umbrellas and raincoats. We always like to get out and about and explore – so before we checked in we did a little shopping on Newcastle’s main street and stopped for a spot of lunch.
When we checked into to the historic Slieve Donard, our room had a brilliant view of the beach. A rainbow even came out to great us. The room was big, with steps up to a very generous sized bathroom. As always, we threw our stuff down and put the kettle on. Once we’d rejuvenated ourselves with coffee and complimentary sweet treats, we slipped into the white robes and slippers and made our way down to the spa area. I was feeling really tired but rather than lie on the loungers I went for a swim to try and wake myself up. I did a few lengths of the pool and then had a lie down and a read. Phill meanwhile enjoyed the sauna, steam room, drench showers and vitality pool. I couldn’t indulge in any of these as I am pregnant! Poor me! In hindsight maybe I should have booked myself in for a massage treatment.
Dining at Brunels
Once back in the room we showered and got dressed up for dinner at Brunels – a relatively new fine dining restaurant in Newcastle which our friends over at Pikalily Blog had recommended we go to. And what a fab place it was! Upon arrival we were shown into a small ‘holding area’ where we ordered drinks and perused the menu whilst we waited on our table. This was a quaint little space with leather sofas, low-lying wooden tables and lots of antique decoration. When we were brought upstairs to the main dining area, it was really light and airy compared to downstairs. But the old style character of the decor remained thanks to beautiful wooden dining tables and Irish art on the walls. The food was fab – a real taste sensation as we ate things we’d never even heard of before, including green strawberries and salted kohlrabi. The restaurant include a lot of foraged food in their dishes, and the result is some really interesting flavours and striking plate presentation. The food pictured below is squid tagliatelle and sirloin steak with chimmi churri oil.
The next morning we made our way down to the breakfast room at 10am after a little sleep-in. It was a busy Sunday morning (there had been a few wedding parties on the Saturday) and we were waiting on a table for about 15 minutes. Not that we cared, as we got to sit in comfy seats in one of the lounge areas where you could help yourself to tea/coffee, fruit juices, breakfast muffins and fresh fruit. Once we were shown to our table and ordered a pot of tea, we were ready to fill our bellies! I started off with some granola, yogurt and fresh fruit before moving on to an Ulster Fry. Breakfast was self-serve and you could have ate as much as you like.
Once we checked out at 11am we went on a walk along the beach in front of the hotel. Of course when we were enjoying our breakfast the sun was shining but as soon as we set foot outside it began to rain! But we were on a mission as we wanted to collect some driftwood to take home with us. We have an idea for the baby’s room which includes driftwood and luckily we found some great pieces on our walk.
Our Slieve Donard escape was really lovely and relaxing. We could have happily stayed another night for some R&R!