Last month we were kindly invited to explore the buzzing heritage town of Westport with a complimentary stay at The Harbour Mill Apartments and a family pass to Westport House on behalf of Destination Westport.
This is how we got on…
The Harbour Mill Apartments
Nestled beautifully along Clew Bay, we arrived at the four-star Harbour Mill Apartments on Friday afternoon and I’d be lying if I didn’t say my first thought was “that’s a lot of stairs”. We didn’t have a buggy with us so it wasn’t a big deal for us but still, access for buggies and wheelchairs is through the underground carpark which is a stone throw away from the door.
The Harbour Mill has a 24-hour reception and we checked in swiftly and smoothly as the kids played in the mother of all playrooms. It was kind of ace and had everything for a wobbler upwards, you could tell just from looking in that it was well-kept and cleaned regularly. My kids adored it!
Our apartment was bigger than I expected, we had stayed in room 212 which has two twin rooms (one with an en suite), a double room (en suite with a bath), large open plan living space and kitchen area and another bathroom. I have to say we were living the dream with an extra toilet, never mind three. Anywho the rooms were basic but comfy, with lots of wood. The living space was completely different, very modern with all usual mod cons you would expect in a self-catering apartment. We even had a dishwasher, washing machine and a dryer so me being me I was able to wash and dry all the clothes before we hit the road home on Sunday.
Having stayed in a hotel room in Sligo recently that was pretty manky I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to accommodation cleanliness. The Harbour Mill was spotless, I cannot fault it.
There was heaps of towels, lots of extra bedding, dishwasher tablets, washing powder, tea, coffee, hot water in all rooms when we needed BUT our TV did not have Virgin Media to watch Love Island nor did the WiFi load the player on my phone to catch up. I know, first world problems. You can request cots and high chairs before arrival.
Another thing worth mention is that while the apartments don’t have a swimming pool they do have a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna for over 16s on the ground floor. However, all guests have unlimited access to the Leisure Centre in the town free of charge – we didn’t use it mostly because I’m not brave enough yet, maybe before the summer is out we’ll all go together.
Other than missing Love Island, sharing a bed with three kids on both nights (they bed hop every time we go away) and the low-quality WiFi we had a fabulous stay. It was my birthday while there so Joe made a birthday breakfast, cake included and said the cooker, toaster and grill were top-notch.
So all in all we had a lovely time at The Harbour Mill, the staff were amazing, the playroom was incredible and our accommodation fitted our needs perfectly, I would definitely go back.
Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park
Rightfully Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park deserves a whole blog post to itself, I could talk about it for days. It is a place I’ve wanted to visit for years.
The hugely popular tourist attraction has welcomed over 4.5 million visitors over the years and rightly so, it is perfect for families of all ages. At Westport, you will find the architecturally stunning house with over 30 rooms open to the public. With everything from marble staircases, original artwork, antiques and dungeons, it is a tour not to be missed.
On-site there is Pirate Adventure Park, an activity park for the younger ones including a mini ferris wheel, zip line and pirate queen swinging ship. Other activities across the grounds include swan pedalo boats, train rides, go-karting, indoor soft play, inflatable obstacle courses and a cannonball run slide all of which are included in admission. It’s a treasure trove for kids, the list of things to do are endless.
You could spend the day at Westport and I can promise you your kids won’t want to leave. Two of mine screamed when home time hit and we had spent the guts of six hours there. It’s a must-see if you’re heading to Westport or even Mayo at that.
Westport’s Big Picnic
It was only as we drove through Westport on the Friday afternoon that we discovered there was a little festival happening over the weekend so we made it our mission to check it out for an hour although I made my lot walk from Clew Bay which they weren’t too happy about.
Westport’s Big Picnic is a festival of fun and food on a fair green located spot centre in the middle of town. On the day there was a carnival of culinary, a pop-up bar and entertainment for the kids including free face painting, a toddler zone and an obstacle course for older kids.
I picked up a few local jams and a heap of fudge at the fair but of course, that didn’t even make it back to the apartment never mind home.
All The Food
Waterfront Restaurant at the Westport Coast Hotel
On the night of our arrival, we dined in a restaurant a couple of doors down from our apartments, the Waterfront Restaurant at the Westport Coast Hotel. Uniquely situated on the top floor of the hotel it looks out onto the stunning setting of Clew Bay Harbour.
Our server on the night was so warm, chatty and friendly and with four kids who would rather be in a playground, they could see from the rooftop restaurant it was what I needed at that time. I ordered a vegetarian Thai curry (there were a few veggie options something I haven’t seen before, usually it’s one dish or nothing) while himself went for the special of the day which happens to be his favourite dish of beef. The kid’s menu was three courses for €12.50 which I believe it’s very reasonable, however, my kids aren’t big eaters so I shared two meals between the four and even at that, there was a little waste (excluding dessert, of course).
I’ve absolutely no faults with the food, in fact, Joe said his beef melted in his mouth – something he’s never said about my own cooking. One thing I really loved was the fact all foods are sourced locally including the artisan bread. Also, the seats were so comfy, the newborn slept through the meal tucked in on the sofa chair at our table.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Waterfront Restaurant to anyone, I highly recommend it for all occasions. It is the kind of restaurant I could myself and Joe’s family take over for a celebration in years to come.
Gracy’s Pizzeria Bar & Bistro
Nestled neatly on grounds of Westport House, Gracy’s Pizzeria is home to Westport’s only original stone bake oven. Here you will find both indoor and outdoor seating both offering a safe friendly family environment. We opted for the covered picnic benches facing out onto a colourful playground where we could see our kids play at all times, it was the perfect way to end our day. As for the freshly made pizza, it was delicious, crusts and all were eaten!
Following recommendations on social media, we had breakfast on day two in a little pub situated right next door to The Harbour Mill Apartments. The Helm was a charming little pub, however, breakfast was very basic but bellies were filled at a very reasonably priced. Joe had a full Irish while the kids and myself nibbled on eggs and beans.
As we left The Helm, we discovered a cute little cafe right next door had just opened its doors for the day. The Creel is where the pancakes were at and I have to say I was a little gutted. You could smell the delicious homebaked goods as you passed the open doorway.
From here it lashed rain so we were limited in what we could do especially with a newborn baby so we decided to head to the local heritage centre just a short five-minute walk away. Upon arrival, we discovered The Clew Bay Heritage Centre closed weekends which was a little disappointing so we headed back to our apartments to pack and check out. The evening before we requested a late check out which gave us plenty of time to leave no trace as we got ready for the long three-hour journey home.
After we left a very wet Clew Bay we stopped off at The Wild West an indoor play village complete with a sensory room. It’s an excellent facility with competitive prices and the standard of cleanliness was to a high standard. We sat back with a coffee as the kids burned off some of what seems like never-ending energy before we hit the road.
Overall we had a wonderful time at Westport, it’s just a shame about the weather on our final day. We had plans to go to Old Head Beach and explore the bustling multi-coloured town a little more. Although thanks to the weather it leaves Westport on the cards for a future visit to finish off what we set out to do.
Westport is a stunning little picturesque town and weather permitting with smallies, it makes the perfect staycation for families of all sizes. We absolutely loved it!
This is paid collaboration with Destination Westport, however, all words and thoughts are my own.