Dunmore House is situated right on the Wild Atlantic Way just 5 min drive outside the beautiful West Cork town of Clonakilty. The drive out is pretty, but when you reach Dunmore House the views over Inchydoney and the bay are simply breathtaking.
Dunmore House was first opened in 1934 as a guesthouse and in 1961 it became a hotel. Over the years there have been many additions to the property, such as an extra 15 bedrooms with stunning sea views. There is a 9 hole golf course with club house to the rear, and on a sunny day you can sit outside on one of five terraces, one of which has a bar built in the shape of a boat, and enjoy the sectacle of nature..
This is a family run hotel, and there is a warm welcome on arrival. As a base for exploring West Cork it is particularly good: all the staff are local and have a great knowledge of all the best things to see and do, so make sure to pick their brains.
Making sure it all runs smoothly is owner Carol Barrett, who is omnipresent but somehow discreet, and who, along with her helpful children - working while off college - pitch in on what needs doing, even dragging golf clubs up to the first tee for a slightly embarrassed food critic. Alongside the family is Anne Marie Harte, theoretical wedding co-ordinator, actual everything organisor, and these two women with their friendly staff revive jaded travellers with kindness and happiness.
The rooms are lovely as well; each one is different, but good taste is evident throughout. I was spoiled with a dinky little terrace where I could watch the sun go down while enjoying a Nespresso from the machine on the room! On days like this I can almost feet guilty discribing this as work.
Food is a key component of the offering here and smart, contemporary dining room has magnificent views and an interesting and eclectic collection of modern art. Indeed, the hotel also doubles as a gallery for the art collected over three generations, and there are some particularly lovely pieces.
Dinner in the Adrift restaurant is a treat, and a newly designed menu lays it all out elegantly. Suppliers are all named checked, and it lists their contributions. There is a set Three course and the a la Carte, which is the way I decide to go.
Starters include hand dived scallops, a prawn cocktail and scampi, and there is a local treat in the form of Macroom mozzarella and a simple leaf salad, which seems like a really good choice on this summer evening, even if it is a summer on the wane after the long sunny days of 2018.
The dish arrives and the cheese is impossibly creamy and thankfully served at room temperature, or just above, meaning that I can taste the cheese. The simple leaves are sprinkled with nuts and a little chutney and the flavours, although simple are fantastic. Sometimes less is more and this proves it.
I had the seafood platter next, which is a mixture of hot and cold, and features smoked wild salmon, Durrus smoked mackerel, a fabulously good fish cake, a little pot of mussels with white wine and cream broth, perfect little prawns and one langoustine and lovely crab meat with pickled cucumber.
Perfectly put together and judged, the fresh oysters were an added bonus, and I enjoyed a glass of German Riesling with it.
Carole and gardener Louise had returned from the kitchen garden a little earlier and picked some blackberries on the way. Carole whipped up an apple and blackberry tart, as you do, and a slice of that with some cream was the perfect end to a lovely meal.
There are many places to stay down West Cork, but I have to say that Dunmore House has to be up there in the top 10 best places to stay and eat in Ireland. Tasteful, graceful, friendly and with simply breathtaking views it's a hidden gem. There are hotels in Ireland far more famous that deliver a lot less. We loved it and urge you to visit when down West Cork way. Highly recommended.
**Dunmore House is a very popular wedding venue; as a setting for photos alone it’s a great location. Add to that tasteful decoration, splendid food and it’s easy to see why it is so popular.