Bushmills – Causeway coast part 3

After our recently published post about our stay at the Shipquay in Derry we stayed a night at the Bushmills Inn. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to finish up our Causeway Coast Series after publishing part 1 and part 2 so long ago!

From Derry we made our way first of all to Benone Strand. We were lucky to get a sunny and dry day in September, and the strand was really beautiful. We had a walk along the tideline before stopping to take some photos. After this we stopped off at Mussenden, a national trust site – it was pretty busy that day, but nice to walk around and get a few pictures of the temple and the views from the clifftop.

We then proceeded to drive to Portstewart as there was a restaurant on the beach that Iain has wanted to try for a while – Harry’s Shack, located on the beach at Portstewart. It was busy but we managed to find a table – we ordered mussels and crab claws which were delicious.

After refuelling we headed towards Bushmills. We didn’t stop at Portrush but would recommend anyone visiting the area to visit. Portrush has a number of bars, cafes and restaurants and beautiful beaches to explore. En-route to Bushmills we made a quick stop at Dunluce castle to get a few pictures.

We haven’t stayed at the Bushmills Inn for about 6 years, however the welcome as always was friendly and professional. We were asked if we would like to upgrade our room which we did. On arrival we received a bottle of prosecco and some delicious Irish chocolates – these went down well after our drive.

The style of the Bushmills Inn is old with mahogany furniture and old-style plastered and whitewashed walls in the bedroom. However, everything is well thought out and really comfortable. The bed was amazing and the bathroom was really modern with a lovely walk in shower.

Bushmill’s Inn Dinner

We had dinner in their restaurant, for starters Brianna had duck liver parfait and Iain had onion soup, these were delicious and had us looking forward to the rest of the meal. For mains we had lamb and pork with sides of dauphinoise potatoes which were beautiful and to finish we both ordered sticky toffee pudding.

The next morning we both had the cooked breakfast on offer ordering the eggs benedict, again this was perfect and we gave the food here a 10/10. Unfortunately we had hoped to visit the Bushmill’s distillery but it had closed to visitors due to covid-19, so we will have to return in future.

We weren’t quite ready to return home after this so we booked in for a night in the Ballygally Castle. On the way there we stopped off at Balintoy Harbour, as it was during the week it was great being able to walk around without the weekend crowds. It’s beautiful around this part of the coast and would recommend any visitors make a point to stop here. We then made our way through Ballycastle and along the coast to our final stop Ballygally Castle. Keep an eye out for our next blog on our stay there.

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain

Shipquay Hotel, Derry – September 2020

In our previous blog post, we talked about our night in Carlingford. The next day we headed north again, but not before stopping off for some Irish Tayto and Cadbury. We had booked into Bishop’s Gate in Derry for a night, a city we’d been to once before for an hour or so, but never spent much time in.

Entering Derry in the car

We were really looking forward to our stay in the hotel, as it had so many positive reviews online. However, a problem arose as we approached the Glenshane Pass. A phone call came through from Bishop’s Gate to say they were unfortunately having to close for 48 hours due to 2 members of staff testing positive for Covid-19. They quickly reassured us however that they had a room available for us in the nearby Shipquay Hotel, should we want it. After pulling into a carpark and taking a quick look at it online, and seeing that it had the same level of high-praise reviews, we phoned back and confirmed our new booking.

The entrance to Shipquay Hotel

The hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel originally built in 1895, and is in a great location in the city. It was only a five-minute walk away from the car park on Bishop Street, and handy to a number of bars and restaurants; it was also close to the famous City Walls. We were a bit early, and our room wasn’t ready yet, so we left our bags off and went to grab some lunch. We stopped in at The Thirsty Goat, where they were continuing the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. After some stew for Iain, and bangers and mash for Brianna, we went to Blackbird bar around the corner for a drink, before going back to Shipquay, where our room was ready for us.

Bangers and Mash at The Thirsty Goat

The hotel had upgraded our room from a premium to a superior, and had brought our bags up to the room so we didn’t have to, which was a lovely touch.  Our package also included a glass of prosecco on arrival, which we enjoyed in our room with some delicious chocolate truffles and chocolate chip cookies. Already we were realising why the hotel had so many good reviews. An interesting touch about the rooms was that they were all named after different streets in Derry, rather than numbered. We were in the Silver Room, which was the original name of Shipquay Street. Our room was beautiful, with a lovely modern feel to it. There was a well-sized en-suite bathroom, with both a walk-in shower and freestanding bath. The room also had lovely soft bath robes and deliciously smelling Voya products.

Shipquay Room
VOYA products in the bathroom

When we had originally booked our stay at Bishop’s Gate we had a 2-course included into the price of our stay. Shipquay had upgraded us to a 3-course meal, which we loved. We had booked dinner for 8, but were ready an hour early, so we decided to head down to the restaurant early for a few pre-dinner drinks. There was a lovely buzz around the restaurant, with a mix of families and couples in having some food. We had a couple of cocktails each before dinner – a margarita for both of us, and then an whiskey sour for Iain, and an espresso martini for Brianna –  all of them delicious.

Margaritas

By then it was time for us to order our food. Both of us opted for the scallop starter, and for our mains Iain went for the Moroccan lamb, while Brianna had the fillet steak. We wrapped up our delicious meal with a chocolate brownie and a crème brulee. The whole dining experience was one of the best we’ve had in a long time. The food and drink were wonderful, and the serving staff were friendly and attentive. The great experience continued with breakfast the next day, where we had an Irish breakfast and avocado toast. We even received a glass of prosecco with it, which was a nice touch.

Scallop starters

Our stay in Shipquay was a wonderful. We had a lovely time from start to finish, from the warm and welcoming staff, the great food and drink, and the comfortable room, it was all great. We’re glad Bishop’s Gate were kind enough to arrange for us to stay. We left feeling refreshed and ready for the next stop – The Bushmills Inn.

Keep an eye out for our blog post about our night in The Bushmills Inn.

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain

Carlingford – September 2020

We finally finished up for our annual leave last Friday – the work was handed over and the out of office was put on until October 12th. We had originally booked this time off to go on our cruise, but as expected it was unfortunately cancelled. So, we decided to book a few nights away in different hotels around Northern Ireland, and go on a bit of a staycation. First up was a night in Carlingford on Sunday, at the Four Seasons.

We’ve driven through Carlingford before, and at most hopped out of the car for a quick dander, but we’d never taken the time to actually explore it. It’s a small town in County Louth, just over the Irish border, nestled in against Carlingford Lough. It takes roughly an hour to get to going down the motorway from Belfast, although you can take the longer, more scenic route and go through Newcastle and Rostrevor.

Main road leading into Carlingford

It was a beautiful day on Sunday, and Carlingford was thriving with people. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we headed into the town for a bit of lunch. The Four Seasons is a quick 5-minute walk away from the town centre. We walked around for a while to check out what was available – a good selection of small pubs, serving run of the mill pub grub. Fun fact – Iain’s great-aunt once owned The Carlingford Arms!

In the end, we decided to go to PJ O’Hare’s, a pub right in the middle of the town, located at the top of Tholsel Street. It had a typical Irish pub vibe, which we love, and a great menu. It didn’t take us long to both decide on the fish tacos, which the server confirmed as a good choice. He wasn’t wrong – they were absolutely delicious, and we kept eating even after we were full as they were too good to leave any behind. We enjoyed a couple of drinks with them, before heading back to see if our room was ready.

Downstairs the hotel was beautifully decorated, especially the bar and restaurant, and had a lovely relaxed, modern feel to it. However, the rooms were poor in comparison to other hotels we’ve stayed in that are at a similar price point. We had booked a suite, but we were unfortunately disappointed with what we ended up getting. The furniture was dated, and so much space had been given to the giant bathroom that the room itself wasn’t any bigger than regular sized hotel rooms. The room was also unbearably warm when we tried to go to sleep, with no way to regulate the temperature. We couldn’t even open a window to control it, as we only had sliding doors that led on to a small balcony that overlooked the carpark, and opening our curtains gave a direct view of our bed, or at least it gave the impression that it would when you lay in it. Neither one of us could get to sleep until the small hours of the morning, and we didn’t wake feeling refreshed at all.

Our stay in The Four Seasons came with 20 euro off the menu, along with a glass of house wine each in the hotel restaurant. We both decided to skip starters, and order the ribeye steak. For dessert, we had a passion fruit cheesecake and an apple and wild berry crumble. The food was of decent quality, and we didn’t have any complaints about it. Drinks were reasonably priced, although near the end of the night it became difficult to grab someone’s attention to get anything.

Overall we had an enjoyable time in Carlingford, and we’d love to go back at some point. However, we’d like to try staying in an Airbnb next time, and eating out in a few of the different bars and restaurants. There were too many to get around in one night, so we’ll maybe go back for a weekend break one day.

Next time we’ll be writing about our night in Derry.

Until then, stay safe and keep planning the next adventure!

Brianna and Iain.