Looking for something different from your summer staycation? Check in to these quirky stays
With airport chaos and cancellations threatening to dampen summer spirits, it’s time to forgo the hassle and take a look at what’s on offer right on our doorstep. Northern Ireland’s premier collection of hotels, bars and restaurants, Galgorm Collection, has been busy investing in its flagship hotel – the world-renowned Galgorm – as well as its two new properties The Old Inn and The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat, to bring staycationing to the next level. Forget stuffy hotel rooms and dated décor – this summer it’s all about the extraordinary. From historic stays with a modern twist, to quirky huts and bohemian surroundings, all wrapped up with luxurious extras, make your next trip a night to remember with Galgorm Collection’s unique range of properties.
Lord it up with a Stay at Northern Ireland’s Oldest Inn
The Old Inn, 15-25 Main St, Crawfordsburn, Bangor BT19 1JH, United Kingdom
With a history dating back to 1614, The Old Inn is one of Ireland’s most historic inns, even hosting world-famous author C.S. Lewis on his honeymoon back in 1958. Today, the hotel is part of Galgorm Collection and a recent £1 million investment into the property ensures guests can live like Lords in the lap of old-world luxury. As you enter the iconic thatched-roof property, the smell of turf on a roaring open fire provides a warm welcome whilst the award-winning hospitality provides that familiar feeling of home for a truly tranquil escape. Named in the Irish Independent’s #Fab50 Top Irish Stays for 2022, this unique hotel perfectly channels the village’s deep history with modern hospitality for an unforgettable rural retreat.
Stay: Opt for the Suite and enjoy the luxury and opulence of a four-poster bed as well as a private balcony – complete with hot tub. Revel in the rustic feel and quirky charm of the Old Inn’s Carriage rooms, each styled individually and offering both forest and quaint village views. Or hide away in the standalone Cottage located on the grounds of the hotel, which hosts an outdoor private Hot Tub, perfect for reconnecting with nature.
Dine: Unwind in the relaxed yet elegant 1614 Bar, which is now dog-friendly so that you can sip on your favourite drink with your canine companion nestled at your feet. Enjoy an unrivalled dining experience in the plush surroundings of The Old Inn Restaurant where the seasonal menu incorporates homely classics and modern dining to provide quality dining and superior service. Top tip: The Old Inn’s Sunday roast, served from 12-5pm, is a comforting classic not to be missed!
Explore: Occupying a prominent 1.5-acre site in the heart of Crawfordsburn village, The Old Inn is perched above the impressive Crawfordsburn Country Park which sits on the North Down coastline and offers both forest and coastal walks in abundance with views to treasure. Or ‘potter’ around Crawfordsburn Village and take a trip to Loaf Pottery located just opposite The Old Inn. Flanked by coloured light bulbs, this charming shop is part of a social enterprise, which works with people with learning difficulties and Autism, and its collection of ceramic gifts are available to purchase online at shop.galgorm.com
Did You Know… Coming soon to the Old Inn is the brand-new Tree Top Spa, featuring a variety of attractions including a vitality pool, two hot tubs, steam room and sauna and forest view relax space.
Pricing: Bed & Breakfast stays available from €115.
Flock Back to Nature with a Stay in a Luxury Shepherd’s Hut
Galgorm, 136 Fenaghy Rd, Ballymena BT42 1EA
Stay: Nestled under the trees in Galgorm Wood next to the world-class, award-winning Thermal Spa Village lies the Secret Meadow, home to Galgorm’s Shepherd’s Hut accommodation. A far cry from rustic living, these huts are the epitome of luxury – dog friendly and available in a choice of one or two-bedroom huts. Enjoy the many quirks along the way as you veer off the beaten track and arrive at your very own secluded check-in hut where the only silver crossed is the key to your own private retreat. Feel welcomed on arrival to your hut with a bespoke gin serve and change into comfy robes before taking in the country views from your private deck, complete with outdoor bath for al fresco relaxation and a fire pit to keep guests toasty. Enjoy a cabin full of mod cons – from Nespresso machines to Dyson hairdryers and a Bluetooth Marshall Amp speaker – these Shepherd’s Huts have it all. Don’t forget the complimentary minibar, filled with all your favourites. The Shepherd’s Hut package comes complete with a Celtic Sauna Infusion experience within its world-renowned, award-winning spa. Be guided by Galgorm’s Sauna Master through a range of essential oil inhalations during a traditional Aufghuss Ceremony, succumbing the mind and body to a state of total relaxation. Ultimate bliss!
Dine: If self-catering’s not your thing, avail of Galgorm’s buggy service to whisk you away to one of the resort’s restaurants. Choose from family favourite Fratelli, offering authentic Italian cicchetti which is perfect for sharing alongside Italian classics such as pizza and pasta, or enjoy the relaxed ambience of Gillies, boasting an extensive selection of classic brasserie dishes, a grill selection and Asian-inspired creations with a satisfying accompanying wine list. Or if afternoon tea is more to your taste, enjoy an indulgent selection of finely cut sandwiches and miniature savouries, freshly baked scones and delicate miniature desserts as part of The Ruby Edit Afternoon Tea Experience. Set in The Conservatory, a magnificent bespoke glass creation that perfectly frames the stunning setting of the cascading River Maine and lush parkland of the Resort, take in the beautiful surroundings as you indulge in Galgorm’s newest dining experience.
Explore: There’s a reason staycationers flock to Galgorm – it’s home to a world-renowned, multi-award-winning outdoor spa and Thermal Village. And it’s only 2.5 hours from Dublin. Previously crowned the Global Luxury Spa Hotel of the Year and recently named Ireland’s Best 4* Spa Experience at the Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards 2022, there’s no better place to get away from it all and unwind. With attractions located around the Thermal Village, the spa has its very own app map to help you find your way in your journey to relaxation. This spa has it all – from a halotherapy salt cave to ice-cold plunge pools, a restorative riverside vitality pool and endless hot tubs, saunas, steamrooms and relax space, you’ll emerge fully refreshed.
Did You Know…Guests can enjoy the craic at McKendry’s Bar & Lounge with live entertainment every evening. A whiskey lover’s haven, McKendry’s boasts over 300 whiskey blends from 21 countries. Gin lovers can take flight with Galgorm’s daily gin tasting in The Gin Library – home to more than 560 types of gin!
Pricing: Shepherd’s Hut bed & breakfast packages start at €270.
Bask in Bohemian Glam at Ireland’s Coolest New Hotel
The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat, 882 Antrim Rd, Templepatrick, Ballyclare BT39 0AH
Stay: With four room types, all home to seriously comfortable beds and designed to scandi-inspired style, there is a room that’s just right for you to catch those all-important ZZZ’s. Choose your burrow – from Snug rooms just big enough for two to the Comfy which boasts an outdoor bathtub and wood burning stove on its private courtyard overlooking the Relaxation Burrow or Garden. Revel in the unconventional with a stay in the Attic rooms – tucked up in the eves, the Attics are unique with original pitched ceilings, exposed beams and a delightfully retro style. Or go all out with a stay in a Luxe room, with indulgent free-standing baths and separate rainforest showers. Each room oozes character with all the creature comforts you need and a few added quirks along the way. All rooms feature a Nespresso Machine for your morning pick-me-up, a Dyson Hairdryer for those ‘Good Hair Days’ and a Marshall amp for that getting ready playlist. Not to mention fluffy robes & flip flops for your trip to The Spa. Best of all… sip on your favourite cocktail shaken up for you by The Rabbit’s mixologist as part of its cocktail turndown service – just don’t forget to remove your ’Do Not Disturb’ door sign!
Dine: In homage to its hunting heritage, the hotel’s restaurant Hunter’s Bar & Grill is a feast for the eyes and stomach. Warm up by the roaring turf fire and take in the eclectic décor of this 180-seat restaurant. The restaurant is home to an extensive wine cellar featuring the finest labels from around the world, whilst a showstopping bar adorned in glistening bronze takes centre stage along with its extensive cocktail menu. Featuring seasonal, local produce and the finest cuts of meat, The Rabbit is the perfect den for couples, friends and families to escape, with a menu designed for sharing.
Explore: Perched by the edge of a stunning lake, the spa area offers total tranquility and boasts unique attractions including Swedish saunas, an aromatherapy steam room, halotherapy salt chamber and Roman inspired baths and hot tubs. The Rabbit is also the first hotel in the island of Ireland to offer a heated pebble beach area complete with a Lake Bar, sunken lounge and plush cabanas for a laid back, luxurious experience. The main attraction is the oversized mirrored disco ball hanging above the Roman baths which after dark turns this idyllic retreat into something akin to a cool Ibizan club exuding Balearic vibes.
Did You Know… The hotel is also dog friendly. Pets and guests can expect an excitable welcome from cockapoo Florence, the hotel’s resident dog. Make your trip to The Rabbit unforgettable with a bespoke spa treatment that has been carefully curated to offer you that well-earned feeling of pure relaxation and zen.*
*Treatments available from 29 August 2022
Pricing: Bed & breakfast stays available from €265.