Mayo: Some fun and quirky places to stay

quirky stays

Mulranny Park Hotel, between Newport and Achill in West Mayo, is all about location. This 19th century railway hotel is built on a bluff above the sea, with panoramic views over Clew Bay and Clare Island. 

Balancing Victorian authenticity with modern, family-focused comfort, this hotel has now become the jewel in the centre of the glorious 42km Great Western Greenway hiking/cycling track from Westport to Achill. The route passes right through its 42-acre woodland estate, making for an ideal spot to either break the trip, or start the west-bound or east-bound legs.

An iron causeway built in 1900 joins the hotel to an excellent blue-flag beach across sand-flats thrumming with waders and winter geese. There’s dependable, locally-sourced food in the Nephin Restaurant that should suit both young families and those of discerning tastes.

Waterfall Cottage, at Delphi, South Mayo, is a stone-clad, four-bedroom cottage in an alluring wilderness setting in the Delphi Valley, one of the last truly unspoilt areas of western Europe.

The building is made up of two rebuilt 19th century cottages which were formerly part of the Delphi estate. It is a true nature lovers’ paradise in one of Ireland’s finest Special Areas for Conservation, with kingfishers and dippers in the gurgling river outside and peregrines and mountain hares roundabout. There are no other houses in this perfectly isolated setting, a short walk from Killary Fjord. 

Pure Magic Kite Surfing Guesthouse on Achill Island, West Mayo, is a treat even if you have no interest in kite surfing or stand-up paddle-boarding. It’s a humble, family-friendly, outdoors-focused place. The quirkily-themed rooms are decorated with mementos and art-work from Morocco, Vietnam, Hawaii, etc. The brioche, croissant and baguettes at breakfast are baked each morning by the French chef and each evening, once the staff returns from surfing, they prepare classic bistro dishes: terrine, filet mignon and amazing pizzas. A genuine, charming, affordable gem.

Clare Island Lighthouse, for almost two centuries, Clare Island Lighthouse has been a nautical landmark perched high on the craggy cliffs, watching over Clew Bay. This architecturally majestic, listed building now offers luxury accommodation complemented by magnificent sea views and an inspiring, natural environment, a ‘great escape’, where even the busiest mind is soon stilled by the unhurried island pace. There are no televisions at The Lighthouse but Wi-Fi is available so guests can use their own portable devices.  Reading material, games, sustenance & piano provided – conversation is up to the guests!

Glamping on Claggan Island, Claggan Island (Oileán Chloigeann) is Mayo’s newest island – having only being officially declared an island in 1991.  Situated on the north-eastern corner of Blacksod Bay, about 12kms from Belmullet, this tiny island has a population of just 8 people and is linked to the mainland by a narrow, sandy causeway and circled by beautiful sandy beaches in every direction.

Belmullet Coastguard Station has been restored to its former glory by the Howard family, islanders for many generations, transforming the 1700s building into luxury holiday accommodation that is proving very popular with holidaymakers from all over the world.  New additions include two luxury glamping pods for visitors seeking a more adventurous stay.

HOW TO GET THERE: Turn off the R313 onto on L1205 at Glencastle (between Bangor Erris and Belmullet) and follow signposts to Claggan Island. It’s best to park in the green area at end of the road and walk across the causeway to the island.

The Ice House, just outside Ballina in North Mayo, is as much a wildlife observation hide as it is boutique hotel, restaurant and spa. The architecturally-bold modernist building on the banks of the River Moy has wall-to-ceiling windows in each room, looking out over the water towards the Earl of Arran’s Belleek forest on the far bank.

The bio diverse, fish-rich tidal River Moy ensures an ever-changing shimmering ribbon of water with herons, wild ducks, moorhens and mature specimen trees on the far bank.

Breakfasts are excellent, the restaurant acclaimed and the rooms sumptious – while the hot-tub overlooking the river is a surreal treat.

Knockranny House Hotel, in Westport, West Mayo is an impressively large pseudo-Victorian, modern hotel. Everything is spacious and solid, and there are great views of Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay from its elevated position above Westport.  Despite the frequent weddings, seminars and passing tourists it somehow manages to remain peaceful. Its La Fougère Restaurant is thought well of, and a spa was added in recent years.

The Talbot Hotel, in Belmullet, North-west Mayo, is a wonderful boutique hotel located in the heart of Erris, Ireland’s Best Place to Go Wild. The food is affordable and tasty, and the rooms are beautifully presented, each coming equipped with a Nespresso machine and i-Pod dock. This small-scale boutique hotel is fun and deservedly successful. 

Stella Maris, near Ballycastle in North Mayo is a seaside hotel occupying a 19th century coastguard station that was converted into a convent in 1916. The views from the long conservatory over Downpatrick Head are spectacular. Stella Maris is just off the road from Ballycastle to Céide Fields. The food is excellent, but it is the views one really comes for. 

Harlequin Hotel, in Castlebar, central Mayo is an urban hotel enlivened by its boutique style décor: swathes of purple, lime green, pink and cream lend an amusing hallucinatory air. Look out for its plush button-backed couches, ironic faux-Venetian mirrors and chandeliers and a padded reception desk. The lobby, bar and dining area utilise the same space. 

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