HIGH & MIGHTY
Jillian Bolger visits a five-star Omani resort set high in the mountains
Merchant Ivory interiors, roaring fires and sweet little foodie finds make for the perfect overnight escape out west.
THE MOOD There’s a line of well-worn wellies to greet us as we push open the heavy oak door of Dromoland Castle. Between these and the inviting smell of a burning log fire, it doesn’t take long to realise there’s refreshingly little pomp going on in this old-world castle hotel, despite the impressive driveway winding through 450 acres of immaculate grounds, complete with golf course and lake. We’re prepped for stuffy, but find personality instead – mainly injected by the ebullient staff, most of them local, and all seemingly cut fresh from the Francis Brennan cloth. THE BEST BITS The pristine damask throw on the four poster bed; the view of the lake from the dining room window; the hot stone massage… all great. But it’s the foot-deep cushions on the drawing room sofas that win the ultimate comfort crown – I sit, sink, and never want to leave. WHO TO BRING Hemingway would love this place, mostly for the decadent cocktail bar. Originally the ancestral O’Brien family’s former library, the room is octagonal in shape, with rich-toned walls and cosy window seats overlooking the lawn, plus tempting high stools at the bar, where you can watch the mixologist masters at work. WHAT TO BRING Pack your finery for dinner in the elegant Earl of Thomond Restaurant, but make sure to throw the runners in too to explore the wooded pathways and lake walks around the estate. There are bikes, boats and birds (of prey) to borrow too if you’re so inclined. THE AREA Don’t miss the opportunity to call into Little Fox in nearby Ennistymon to feast on Niamh Fox’s colourful, vibrant food in a characterful, casual setting. Or head a little further, about an hour’s drive, to visit the Cliffs of Moher or stop by Sadie Chowen’s boutique Burren Perfumery to bring home a bottle of something delicious from her organic Atlantic Coast range. THE DETAILS Double room B&B, from €270 per room, Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare, 061 368144; dromoland.ie. Lizzie Gore-Grimes