Location, location, location! So the saying goes. Clontarf Castle hits a hat-trick on this score, its historic location, convenience to Dublin airport (20 mins) and city centre (10 mins drive) – and on the doorstep of some of Ireland’s most famous Golf courses. Two of the top Links courses in the world are located nearby, at Portmarnock and, even closer, Royal Dublin. Clontarf also boasts its own course and the hotel has a number of Golfing packages on offer.
Clontarf Castle hotel is situated close to the site where the most famous High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, died on the night of his famous victory over the Vikings and their Irish allies at the Battle of Clontarf in 23 April 1214. The hotel is acutely conscious of its heritage but is determined to make ‘History through our passion for excellence’. During our visit we had the opportunity to put that claim to the test.
Located in the coastal suburb of Clontarf just 10 minutes from the city centre and 20 minutes to the airport, we looked forward to our arrival at the hotel with great anticipation. Driving past the imposing gate lodge, excitement mounted and we soon pulled up in front of Clontarf Castle Hotel – an imposing spectacle. Walking through the lobby, the wow factor persisted. No expense has been spared in preserving the historic castle and in developing a sympathetic yet modernising ambience. Standing guard in the lobby were two life size ‘knights’ in shining armour – popular with guests seeking a memorable photographic backdrop.
We were checked in by highly courteous, professional staff. We were too early to get a room, but the offer of free Cup Cake on the counter helped to assuage the disappointment. The hotel was bustling shortly after lunch, with Knight’s Bar jam-packed. The highly popular carvery lunch goes on until 3pm, though it looked like the fayre would be sold out before then.
With some time on our hands, we opted for a walk along the shore road of Clontarf, stopping every now and then to read the various interpretive signs which trumpet the area’s rich history – not least the Battle of Clontarf whose 800th anniversary was celebrated last year.
Needing a rest after our 10,000 step perambulation, according to the pedometer, we were delighted to get to our room, an exceptionally well appointed and stylishly decorated room in keeping with the grandeur of the hotel. Dressed for dinner, we sampled the wares in the Fayhrenheit Grill, located in a Grand Hall style setting. The hotel prides itself on ‘innovative classic cuisine with a distinctly modern twist’. I was impressed straight away by the lightly poached egg in bread crumbs which topped my Caesar salad. It was a very relaxing experience. Most of the guests seemed to prefer the casual evening dining on offer in Knight’s Bar.
The Fayhrenheit Grill is also the location for the buffet breakfast. Offerings include a traditional Irish cooked breakfast as well as an array of cheeses, meats, smoked Salmon and rustic bread. The only pity was the cramped layout of the tables which made trips to negotiate the wares on offer more of a ‘battle’ than would have been preferable.
In sum, Clontarf Castle is a deluxe 4 Star hotel boasting a Twelfth century heritage blended with Twenty First century luxury and sophistication. If you like the ‘wow’ factor this is a place well worth a visit, or two.