Climbing up a sand dune on a sunny evening to look out at the ocean before walking the 10 minutes back to my hotel has to be a highlight of staying at Inchydoney Lodge & Spa.
Located quite literally on the beach, this remote hotel is one of the most relaxing places in Ireland. Fact.
It may take some time to get to this West Cork hideaway (we're talking a train from Dublin, bus to Clonakilty and then a taxi out to the hotel itself), but any weariness you might have from travelling is wiped clean as soon as you step inside. A welcome drink is placed in your hand and friendly staff lead you to your room - helloooo relaxation.
I made my down by myself for a solo trip and genuinely didn't want to leave when time came to check out.
So, what is it about Inchydoney that makes it so special?
First up... The VIEWS
Every window in this place appears to offer a majestic view of the waves crashing down on Inchydoney Beach below.
There's a little surf hut on the beach that rents surfboards and wetsuits if you're feeling adventurous, but I was here to exert myself as little as possible. A stroll on the sandy beach on low tide and a mini explore through the sand dunes was more than enough for me.
There's something indescribable about the feeling of waking up in the morning and bang! A view of the blue waves. The hotel's website even has a live stream from its beach cam so you can get a sneak peek of the view here.
Rooms are sleek and a darker bronze theme compared to the white and pale blue nautical vibe of the hotel itself
I stayed in a ground floor Terrace room for €178 a night, which was comfy and huuuuge. A love seat on your private terrace provided a lovely little spot to have a coffee (there's Nespresso machines in every room) and I was obsessed with their Elemis toiletries.
Good shampoo and conditioner in a hotel bathroom is a rare treat.
There's also a fancy grey fluffy robe (no standard white towel robes here) and slippers, 'cos if a hotel doesn't have a robe and slippers is it even a hotel?
Brekkie in the bed was the perfect pick for a solo sleepover and the options included homemade bread and fresh fruits, as well as local Clonakilty pudding.
A seawater pool in the spa takes water straight from the Atlantic Ocean outside
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa has been voted Ireland's Leading Spa Resort at the World Travel Awards seven times, and after just one visit here I can see why.
Seawater is pumped daily from the ocean into the Seawater Therapy Pool and heated to 31 degrees and because it's salty you practically float along the water.
Swimming in water at this temperature also allows the pores of the skin to expand and the body to absorb the nutrients and goodness from the seawater so it's an ideal way to chill out before getting a treatment. And oh, the treatments...
As well as all the usual suspects of facials, massages and body wraps, Inchydoney specialises in a range of seaweed baths. I got the Chocolate Bath, which was €40 for 20 minutes soakage in chocolately seawater.
To be honest, it smelled a bit too like the sea to be overly relaxing but my skin was SO soft when I got out and I felt surprisingly revitalised.
And those seaside views continue on for dinner with a majestic sunset...
There's three spots to dine in Inchydoney - the casual and nautical themed Dunes Bistro, the chilled out Lounge area with an open fire or the more fine dining Gulfstream Restaurant.
I went with dinner at the Gulfstream restaurant, which is on the third floor of the hotel and has sweeping views of the water below.
The food concept is based on modern French and light Mediterranean and uses the best of local and organic produce as well as local seafood, with turbot, sole and fresh shell fish playing a huge role.
A starter of a Seafood Assiette of smoked salmon and crab roulade, crispy fried squid and a smoky-sweet sugar cured salmon kicked things off in style, while for mains I went with a Castletownbere monkfish dish with a creamy beurre blanc.
Snuggling back into my room in my robe to read for the night with the sound of the ocean below was bliss.
Checking out after one last dip in the seawater pool and a visit to the sauna and steam room, the reception staff handed me a jar of homemade jam, which really drove the point home of being in the friendliest county in Ireland.
I didn't want to leave. And I'm already looking forward to returning.