I’ve just returned from nearly three weeks in Ireland. While there, I happily revisited one of my very favourite Boutique Hotels: The Quay House (pronounced: The Key House for North Americans).
Historic and charming
The Quay House, located on Beach Road, right on the harbor in Clifden, Co. Galway is over 200 years old. Originally built as the Harbourmaster’s House, it also has served ( at various times) as a monastery, a convent and a private home. You’ll notice niches in the wall where statues might once have stood.
Today, right in the heart of Connemara, hosts Julia and Paddy Foyle offer an exceptional accommodation experience. Clifden, the capital of Connemara, is a beehive of activity. It boasts great food, plenty of traditional music, a variety of pubs and a range of festivals, fairs and events. Furthermore, Clifden is a great hub from which to explore Connemara and The Quay House is the perfect accommodation.
Art, Antiques and Hospitality
They say first impressions are important. The Quay House makes a great one – as you pull up to the door, the front garden is a waterfall of colourful, cascading flowers. Adorning the front wall are years’ worth of award plaques – all well-deserved, in my opinion. On fine days, you might find the front door ajar, as if waiting for friends to arrive, not strangers.
The first thing that strikes you as you step inside is the elegant winding staircase. I always imagine myself gliding gracefully down in a floor-length evening gown (a la Scarlett O’Hara). Windows surround the stairs and provide a natural showcase for decoration and art. At the bottom a cherub, perched atop the newel post, grins impishly – I love him! The staircase gets plenty of use. Due to the age of the house, there is no elevator. But Paddy (and sometimes son, Toby) is always available to help with suitcases to upper levels. There are about 6 rooms on the ground floor as well.
Unique, with views
Each of the 15 rooms en suite at the Quay House is unique – individually decorated and styled with antique furniture, mirrors and appointments. Nearly all of them overlook Clifden Harbour. I loved the last room I had – it was huge by European standards! Painted clouds covered the ceiling and floor-to-ceiling double glass doors opened onto small balconies that overlooked the harbour. Three little stairs down to our bathroom that featured a huge tub, shower and my personal favourite, the towel warmer.
During this visit, I stayed in the Bamboo Room, so called due to the theme of bamboo dominating the decor. Big, round windows like giant portholes looked out to the harbour. – For privacy, venetian blinds covered them. And just outside the windows, more riotous color flowed from pots and flowerboxes.
The common rooms are very homey and give a real feeling of being lived in. Be sure to take some time to examine the antiques and animal statues. You can “hang out” in the lounge on overstuffed couches reading, writing or just relaxing. Wi-Fi is available throughout.
The Quay House does not offer dinner, but within a 7-minute walk into downtown Clifden, the choices are nearly boundless. Restaurants include seafood houses, steak, lamb and pub grub. And there’s trad music nearly every night of the week in summer.
The Quay House Breakfast is a treat
Breakfast is another matter entirely. It is an event. The breakfast room is a wonder; a completely glassed-in tropical greenhouse-type affair, with plants and shrubs abounding. The tables, decked out in matching floral motif cloths are laid with lovely ware and cloth napkins. There is a self-serve cereal, fruit, juice and yogurt bar.
Immediately after sitting down, the attentive staff or sometimes Julia, herself, offers tea and coffee and take full Irish breakfast orders. Hot porridge, toast, eggs (nearly any variety), bacon, sausage, tomatoes and black pudding appear in short order. Everything prepared just to your liking. You certainly will not begin your day hungry here! You can choose as little or as much as you wish!
One of my favourite features of the hotel is the charming fountain in the ground floor courtyard. Follow the sound of falling water down the hallway and you’ll come to the pretty little tiered fountain surrounded by stone walls and various plants and flowers. On one stay, I had a room right next to the fountain. I loved the calming sound of the falling water just outside my door. Paddy told me that they turn it off at night so as not to disturb guests.
The Quay House is a very popular Clifden hotel so be sure to reserve your spot early. For more information and to make reservations, visit the website: www.thequayhouse.com
Do you have a favourite hotel in Connemara? Have you stayed at The Quay House? Let us know in the comments below!