Last month all six of us were invited to Redcastle Hotel in Donegal, a hotel sitting on a stunning waterfront location, overlooking Lough Foyle on the Inishowen Peninsula. Redcastle Hotel sells themselves as a family-friendly destination so we put them to the test with our four mad hatters.
Upon arrival we checked in with ease after the longest road trip ever – it was such a relief. What was supposed to be a four-hour journey turned into a nine-hour journey when we discovered our car was not fit for purpose. By fluke, our mechanic managed to have the part we needed to travel safely flown from the UK thanks to Peugeot in less than three hours. I know I’m still scratching my head.
On first impression, Redcastle the newly refurbished hotel lived up to my expectations with its spacious reception and stunning decor. The public area opened out up to a number of relaxing lounges including a bar, restaurant and a large terrace.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with our room or should I say rooms. We had interconnecting rooms on the first floor – one for the kids and Joe and one for me. What more could a girl ask for? Inside the kid’s room was a double full out bed, a single and a travel cot – the travel cot was used as a climbing frame throughout our visit to Redcastle. There’s a tv with satellite, a DVD player and an unbelievable collection of DVDs including The Little Rascals and How To Train A Dragon. If the DVDs didn’t tickle our fancy we were advised there was a selection to choose from available at reception. And the fire trapdoors don’t swing shut so there was no fear of hands or toes getting trapped – something I always fear when we stay in hotels.
The master bedroom or my room was vibrant with a luxury feel to it complete with all the usual hotel fittings. I say my room because when Joe was putting the kids to bed he fell asleep both nights and hell did I wake him. The hotel left us a complimentary bottle of champagne so I sat comfortable and pretty much binged on Netflix while swinging from the bottle on both nights.
The room had an iron, hairdryer and refreshments including tea, coffee and water. The bathroom had a bath/shower combo, plenty of towels changed daily and complimentary toiletries.
Oh boy! There is a range of dining options at Redcastle Hotel from Afternoon Tea By The Sea, Captains Bar to The Edge Restaurant where we ate at all times, the restaurant with the spectacular views. Let’s start with the views when you’re eating your food from The Edge Restaurant – there are no words. It’s unbelievably stunning. We managed to get window seats each time we ate there.
Redcastle Hotel offers a large children’s menu so you can be guaranteed to find something to suit all taste buds. They have pizza, minute steak, fish goujons and beef burgers – all large portions. If I was to dine again I’d only get three dinners between the four of them. I hate food waste! They even offer baby bowls for €2 and a selection of miniature desserts for smallies.
Joe will shoot me if I don’t comment on the beef, he said it was the nicest beef he had ever eaten. As a vegetarian, I can’t put to words how he actually described it but put it this way he said he’d go back just for another one. If we had been at home he would have licked the plate clean I’d say.
The restaurant was voted Best Hotel Restaurant 2018 in Ulster by YesChef so that tells you something and they have received their 2nd AA Rosette in The Edge Restaurant, the only restaurant with 2 AA Rosettes in Inishowen. The menu also has a mix of chicken, fish and vegetarian options to choose from and mouth-watering desserts.
The breakfast was by far my favourite meal time, it had everything. It’s a self-service buffet and laid out beautifully. There’s your usual full Irish breakfast, with a selection of bread, juices and cereals. Redcastle also offers a large variety of pastries, smoothies, homemade granola, creamy porridge, cold meats and fruits. Mix all that glorious food with the stunning views and your set for the day! The Big Kid gave us a giggle when she told us on the last morning she was going to miss all the yummy foods.
The private beaches surrounding Redcastle are absolute bliss. They have to be seen to be believed – it’s unreal. Who knew Ireland was so pretty? My lot splashed about on both mornings for almost two hours each time, not a whinge between them. One climbed rocks, one paddled, one was hunting for ‘snap-snap’ sea shells while another said the rock pools reminded him of Jurassic World and he sat playing with his two favourite dinosaurs until it was time to leave.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather throughout our stay in Redcastle Donegal – it was glorious and most definitely contributed to our experience of Donegal.
Unfortunately, the Redcastle Hotel does not have a games room so if the weather isn’t the best the only options you have been swimming, Leisureland next door or you will have to travel out further. They have a kids club which runs from Sunday to Thursday during Easter holidays and in July and August.
There is a large swimming pool on site perfect for young families. It has a small babies pool in the corner, a larger pool, jacuzzi, sauna and a steam room. Inside the dressing rooms, there is a secure wall mounted seat for babies – so handy when getting dressed or drying your hair. There is also little playpen located right in the centre of the women’s changing rooms too.
There’s also a gym, a 9-hole parkland golf course and a luxurious spa retreat if you manage to sneak away from the kids with some beautiful packages including hydrotherapy baths, illuminating facials and reflexology just to name a few.
The hotel also offers free parking on site, dry cleaning and laundry services, complimentary newspapers in reception, room service and free WiFi throughout the hotel.
Things We Did In Donegal
Right next door to the Redcastle Hotel is an indoor fun park complete with a soft play area, bumper cars, bumper boats, a pirate ship, train ride, racing cars, tea cups, pool zone – I could keep going, there’s a heap of amusements for kids. It works out at €12 per child for an unlimited pass on everything for three hours. If your kids are anything like mine you make your monies worth in rides within the first hour.
No staycation is complete without a little bit of history. We stopped by the Dunree Forts, a military museum with one of the best collections of coastal artillery guns in the world. We arrived too late and the museum had already closed but we strolled around the Inishowen peninsula looking at the guns, took in the breathtaking views and we explored scenic walks and ruins of old forts.
We stopped by numerous sandy beaches on our way to the Dunree Forts – that’s why we were so late getting there. Every single beach we stopped by was stunning with picturesque views. The Lisfannon Beach was the quietest, we pretty much had the whole left section to ourselves.
We drove 40 minutes to Lurgybrack Farm off recommendations from numerous followers on Snapchat and boy, it didn’t disappoint. It cost us just under €40 for all 6 of us and it was worth every penny.
Lurgybrack is an open farm in Letterkenny and it has something for all the family, even parents. They have a heap of animals of your usual farm animals but it’s the other activities that the kids loved. They have a barrel train ride, the biggest playground we’ve ever seen at a farm – complete with numerous wooden climbing frames, slides, swings, sandpit, merry go rounds and trampolines.
There is a large floating pillow, zip line, toddler soft play area, Tinney’s tractor race track, milking cow, bouncy castles, twisty slides and a water/bubble slide. In the food court, there are two large inflatable obstacle courses so they kids can play while they are waiting on their food which I think is pretty genius.
While I’m not here to review any of the activities I think it’s worth mentioning the efficiency of the staff at Lurgybrack. As the Big Kid was on a swing in the corner of the playground a young boy ran right into her as she was swinging away. His teeth cut directly into her knee. The poor sod still has marks a month later BUT when I approached a member of staff for First Aid she immediately brought us to a room and looked after both children. There was no confusion, no waiting around it was very well organised. So kudos to that staff member who looked after both children that day!
Overall Thoughts of Redcastle Hotel Donegal
We loved it. We couldn’t have asked for any more. Had the weather been different I may have been disappointed as we would have been limited with activities. Aside from that, the little touches in the room, the private beach to the delicious breakfast spread, a bed to myself and stunning views. It ticked all the boxes for me, Joe and the kids. The pool catered for all the children, the staff couldn’t have been friendlier, the kids all fit comfortably in one room and most importantly – they slept. I would 100% go back especially considering the pricing and deals they have throughout the year. They currently have a special offer that kids stay free – the perfect family mini escape this summer.