Considering I hadn’t been to Westport since I was about eight years old, up until a few weeks ago my memories consisted entirely of pedalo swans, carpet slides, 99’s and sandcastles on Clew Bay.
I thought my memories of this little seaside town were pretty good, but after my trip down there two weeks ago they’ve been upped to absolutely amazing.
Sunset views of Croagh Patrick, a random trad sesh in The Porterhouse Pub and an overnight stay in probably one of the most relaxing hotels I’ve ever visited in Ireland meant I came back raving about the place.
So if you’re planning a trip to the best town in the Wesht (and you 100% neeeed to get there at least once), you have got to stay in the ultra-luxurious Knockranny House Hotel.
Here’s why I’m so obsessed:
The hotel itself is a nod to 1930’s glamour…
Perched up on a hill, Knockranny House is welcoming as soon as you walk in with a roaring open fire at the reception.
Myself and my lovely designated driver/sleepover buddy (thanks Han!) were fairly wrecked from the drive down, but once we stepped inside the front doors we knew we were gonna be looked after like the glam queens we are.
Our room looked out onto a lovely courtyard and the bed was big enough to make sure there was no chance of accidental spooning – v important when your mate is a snuggle-phobe.
There’s antique furniture and countless chandeliers throughout the hotel, and the style vibes reminded me of a 1930’s grand house where a murdery mystery film would be set – all dark, lush furnishings and atmospheric lighting.
In a nutshell, the place is FAB.
Views of Croagh Patrick can be seen best from recently refurbed restaurant La Fougère, and the Brehon Bar, a cosy spot that was the perfect setting for a quick G&T before our dinner.
Now – on to the incredible food…
We started with an Afternoon Tea with prosecco in La Fougère, (sure lookit we were on our holliers) which at €21 per person was actually seriously reasonable.
There was open finger sambos on homemade brown bread with Knockranny cheese, thyme poached chicken and smoked salmon, and the most amazing selection of li’l cakes for after.
We’re talking the likes of orange cup cake, lemon curd, cream cheese frosting, apple & blackberry crumble cupcake, pavlova, a hazelnut crumble, and more that we didn’t get to examine too closely before stuffing our face.
Looking out at the mountains with this feast was a stellar start to the trip.
For dinner we decided to go all out and treat ourselves to the Tasting Menu in La Fougère with the wine pairings because we are bottomless pits who deserve the finer things in life now and again okay?
It’s €95 each, which may seem steep, but for a six course menu at this quality with whites and reds to complement it’s worth every. single. cent.
Head chef here Seamus Commons is a Mayo man, and has been described in the Bridgestone Guide as “one of the great chefs of his generation“, so you know you’re in for fantastic, locally sourced food.
First course was scallops (huge and meaty and divine), with blood purée, baby fennel,fennel purée, and compressed apple, paired with a lovely zesty Picpoul.
Next we gobbled down turbot, a fresh flavoured flatfish, with shellfish, lobster, seaweed and samphire, which arrived in a gorgeous sea-coloured shimmering bowl – “beautifully presented” was the consensus on this, and a Pinot Grigio with hints of grapefruit was the perfect vino to wash it all down.
A super satisfied “big fan of this course” went to the courgette flower, Galway goats cheese, beetroot, black olive, and mustard frills with a Pinot Noir, a light and flavoursome plate that was almost, just almost too pretty to eat.
But hey, eating is what I do best.
This was followed by a droolworthy Mayo Lamb loin & shoulder, peas asparagus, morels, lovage, ratte potato and anchovy, perfectly cooked as requested medium rare. Yummmmm.
“Should we tell them it was delicious? Because it was really was,” Han said.
For the first time in my life I had what I was told was a ‘pre dessert’, a vanilla panna cotta, with raspberry sorbet, poached peach and tuille, followed by the “real” dessert of Knockranny’s strawberry soup, with pernod ice cream, shortbread, and a black cherry parfait.
The ‘strawberry soup’ was poured over the shortbread and ice cream by our expert server Mladen, who genuinely went out of his way to explain all the dishes and wines to us throughout the evening.
He even let us have a peek around their restuarant wine cellar which made me feel like I was living in the set of ‘The Parent Trap’ – cheers for that my sweet Mladen.
Want to really chill? Check out their spa
Not just any spa, Knockranny House has a full thermal suite of different saunas, steam rooms and a Roman style swimming pool with stylish loungers and the prettiest tiles you’ll ever see.
No word of a lie – I spent legit two whole hours or so in this pool just living the chill life.
I also got a three hour treatment from Spa Salveo, where I was scrubbed, soaked and massaged with hot stones in what I can only call an insanely heavenly experience. I’d come back here just for the spa treatments alone.
The staff and service is what makes this the most relaxing place on the West Coast
From the ladies on reception who minded our little tinfoil takeaway bag of leftover Afternoon Tea cakes when we checked out, to Mladen in the restaurant and Peter in the Brehon Bar who joked with us about the craic in the town the night before and cured our heads with a jumbo Club Sandwich, there’s something about having genuinely nice people working in a local hotel such as this that can take it the extra mile.
The kind of service we experienced wouldn’t be found in any other four star hotel in Ireland, I’m sure of it.
Michael on the night desk was an absolute ledge who even made sure we got our brekkie in bed even though we’d been too late to hang the sign on our door (all that trad music in the town distracted us).
My only complaint about my super chill getaway in this little slice of heaven was that I didn’t have the time to stay longer.
A week here would be pure bliss… Gorging on amazing food, climbing Croagh Patrick and strolling along Clew Bay are just some of the things to do.
I left feeling more relaxed than I’ve ever felt in my life, so relaxed in fact, that I put the tinfoil cake bag on the roof of the car and almost drove off without them.
If you’re in need of a break you can’t go wrong with a stay here: any place that has the power to make me forget about cakes is fairly magical.