I don’t really need to sell Ireland’s coastlines do I, given the iconic backdrops of massive movie franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Game of Thrones have long beat me to it. And then there is the Wild Atlantic Way which is continually ranked as one of the best drives in the world. But here is where Waterford gets a bit of a dud deal, and while it is found on the same rugged southern coast of Ireland next to the hugely popular tourist route, it has also been excluded as the cut-off county in Ireland’s Ancient East. Meaning Waterford’s coastline doesn’t quite get the same exposure as its neighbours. But this in no way means it is any less beautiful than its western neighbours, and in many ways, Waterford feels like the finish line of the Wild Atlantic Way. And the Cliff House Hotel is without a doubt the trophy at the end. With quite probably the best hotel sea views in Ireland.
Weatherwise we really did get lucky on our stay in February (Fanfan’s 30th Birthday), with blue skies, calm seas and romantic sunsets. Then again, I did almost wish for those blistering winds, and wild Atlantic waves to be crashing on the rugged rocks beneath. Because miserable weather is so much more enjoyable when sipping on wine by electric fireplaces (we had two in the room, or when covered in bubbles in the standalone bathtub. These are rare luxuries to be found along Ireland’s coastlines. I have spent more than half my life along the shores of Ireland (living in Bangor), and you’d be surprised just how hard it is to find a comfortable spot to actually relax and enjoy the coastal scenes here. So there really is nowhere quite comparable to the Cliff House Hotel, as it is just a masterpiece in architecture where it is perched on the side of a cliff, over rugged coastlines, and it’s a bit like Tony Stark’s mansion or a Bond villain’s lair, only friendlier and more welcoming.
Five Star Dining
There is always the Michelin Star option at the ‘House at Cliff House Hotel’. But I am personally apprehensive when it comes to this level of fine dining, in case I don’t like it. “Am I broken?”. Either way, there must be a fine line between the restaurants as at the Cliff House Bar and Restaurant the food is just rather fantastic. Although with ‘tapas’ style eating in Asia the past years made a 3-course meal a little bit daunting. (Coincidentally the last 3-course meal I remember was 3-years ago above the skylines of Bangkok for Fanfan’s Birthday). But if there ever was ever a time to challenge ourselves, this was it, with reasonable prices at 45 Euros (Feb 2018), as well as the option of paired wines, which we forego for bottles. Anyway, the food is as amazing as it looks (below) and the lamb literally fell off the bone when I poked it.
Ups and Downs
I was never quite sure if I was going up, or down, in the hotel, as each floor opened out to different levels of the building, sharing the same fantastic views out to sea. Which begins from the moment you step into the foyer. And I think is a privacy thing, where balconies and views are designed not to overlook each other, and (I think) the restaurants, pools, and spa facilities are found on the near half of the building, away from the residents. And the pool is no doubt one of the highlights of the hotel, as it has a floor to ceiling window perfectly framing the views outside, and we even forced ourselves down early to watch the sunrise from the terrace jacuzzi. For breakfast we then had the option to dine in the guestroom, set on the balcony if you like, but was somewhat desperate to explore the hotel more, after two intense Indian Ristrettos, and an Espresso Forte (in-room Nespresso machines are my new favourite thing), so again we dine with more amazing views out to sea.
Ardmore Cliff Walk
The Cliff House hotel actually marks the start and finish of the Ardmore Cliff Walk, one of the main tourist attractions in the region, and while we didn’t quite complete the 4km walk ourselves (we were making the most of the hotel) the ruins of St. Declan’s Well are little more than a stone’s throw from the doors. It is where we put the drone up for much of the footage. So from St. Declan’s Well, an ancient pilgrimage site (24th July each year), a path follows the cliffside coastline a simple waymarked route that loops back round towards the village, before reaching the coastline again. Passing Ardmore Round Tower and 12th Century Cathedral along the way. And in all Ardmore is just a rather cute and easy to explore Irish fishing village with lots of stunning coastal scenery and charm.