Each week, we like to show off some of the best hotels in the country to give you some getaway inspiration.
Not just any hotels, but places that you can build a trip around and enjoy the local area as well as amazing amenities. Nothing beats a little hotel break and this week, we'd showing you a very special place to rest your head: The Ice House In Ballina.
Tucked into the landscape at the mouth of a river, this spot was made for relaxation with its tricked-out spa.
There's plenty to enjoy for outdoorsy types too, with woods, water sports and the beautiful coastline all there for your enjoyment.
3 things to do in the area
Ballina is on the famous west coast and while many head to Westport when in this part of the world, you'll find quieter and equally beautiful spots in this area.
One of the most iconic sites in Ireland and on the day that we visited, we were by ourselves enjoying the spectacular view of waves crashing into Downpatrick Head.
Just across the water from the Ice Hotel is the home of Connacht whiskey and gin. Get the guided tour and, most importantly, enjoy the tasting.
Cycle the Wild Atlantic Way
This wonderful road spans the whole west coast of Ireland but, around here, it's quiet and often turns to small lanes.
A bike is the best way to see the countryside and enjoy its sights, with the scenery changing around every corner.
The hotel itself
Ice House is built into the side of the river and it's deceptively large. Downstairs, at the river level, you'll find a bar, the restaurant and the thermal spa.
While there's plenty to do and see in the area, this is the sort of place where you could arrive for 48 hours and happily not step outside once. The spa provides a wide range of treatments, where you can while away a whole day in pure indulgence.
The absolute highlight of the stay (in warm or cold weather) is sitting in the hot tub with a glass of champagne admiring the stunning river view.
If you're super brave, a trip into the sauna can even be followed by a quick dip into the river.
The restaurant serves up a wonderful evening menu with high-end brasserie style food.
The real highlight is that, after eating, you're only a few paces from either the private bar or your room, if you want to go and do some more resting.
A personal guide
With so much to explore in the area, the best way to see it is by getting off the beaten track. Rachel is a one-woman tour operator who knows the area like the back of her hand and will guide you using bikes, kayaks, by car or on foot. You'll truly get to see some of the most gorgeous parts of this beautiful corner of the world.
The only bad thing about about staying here was having to leave. After all the fresh air, wonderful scenery, amazing food, massages and the friendly locals, it felt sad having to pack the bags and hit the road.
Well worth a visit.
Ice House Hotel
From stunning design to the beautiful natural scenery and even a world-class spa, Ice House Hotel has it all.