Hotel Review: Slieve Donard Resort, Newcastle, Co Down

Being a parent is great. But sometimes you just need a break to recuperate, have a full night’s sleep and to just relax. You know what I mean, don’t you? During a recent visit to Northern Ireland, Laura and I did just that – we had a night away at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, which is a 4-star hotel in Newcastle, Co Down while Zak had a fun sleepover with his Granny and Granda.

Famous for its views of the Mourne Mountains, Newcastle is where families in Northern Ireland often find themselves on a sunny Sunday afternoon in search of “a poke.” Now, to anyone outside of Northern Ireland, this might sound a bit rude, but a poke in NI is another name for an ice-cream cone. So if you ever meet someone from Northern Ireland and they ask if you’d like “a large poke,” don’t overreact and get your pepper spray out.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the hotel.

Back in the day, the Slieve Donard Resort was *the* hotel to go to in Northern Ireland. The advent of the railway meant that people were able to travel more freely and the gentry found themselves having a séjour in this high-class hotel.

Nowadays, the railway has gone and they let normal people like me and Laura stay, but that hasn’t taken away the prestige of staying at the Slieve Donard.

So, is the Slieve Donard Resort the ideal location for a child-free getaway?

The answer to that is a resounding “yes!” Our room was one of the Resort Double rooms, which are located in the refurbished end of the hotel. Having stayed in an unrefurbished room at this hotel before, I can whole-heartedly recommend splashing out a little bit more on this higher-quality room.

Our room was split into three areas: the bedroom, the living room and the bathroom.

The bed was absolutely enormous and so, so comfortable. We were very lucky to have a fantastic view out of the window, overlooking the sea. Unfortunately it was raining for most of our stay (as it often does in Northern Ireland), but that meant we got to watch the waves crashing onto the beach below our window.

When we go away to hotels, I always have to stop Laura from packing up the complimentary toiletries, as they always end up stored in our bathroom cupboard and never actually get used. I made an exception here though! The spa at the Slieve Donard Resort is an ESPA spa, so the toiletries in the bedrooms are also ESPA products. Without exception, these are the nicest-smelling toiletries we’ve ever had in a hotel. And maybe just this once, I didn’t protest when they fell into our toiletries bag before we left!

The bathroom in the Resort Double room at the Slieve Donard had both a bath and a rainfall shower. I don’t know about you, but I really hate it when there’s a shower over the bath. Having a separate shower makes all the difference for me.

The Slieve Donard Resort is one of several hotels in Northern Ireland owned by the Hastings Group. If you ever stay in one of their hotels, you will always get a little rubber duck. Sometimes these are themed and they’re quickly becoming collectors’ items! Somewhere, I’m sure I have a Titanic-themed one from when I stayed at the Slieve Donard in April 2012 – the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.

For us, this meant that Zak’s present from our trip away was quickly sorted!

During our time at the Slieve Donard Resort, we spent a significant amount of time in the spa. Now, this is where I fail as a blogger, as I didn’t actually take any photos while we were there!

It’s a hard one, isn’t it? I certainly wouldn’t want photos of me in my swimming shorts plastered all over the internet without me having photoshopped my head onto a swimwear model’s body. But anytime I tried to take a photo, someone would have been in it.

I’ll just have to resort to some ‘theatre of the mind’ and describe the spa to you!

There are four main areas in the spa: the swimming pool, the jacuzzi, the sauna and the steam room.

The swimming pool is quite big, as far as spa swimming pools go. On one occasion, there were lanes marked out for those who wanted to do lengths. But for Laura and I, there was still plenty of space for us to bob around like pensioners at an aqua fit class.

The jacuzzi was amazing, running along the edge of the pool with seats facing out to the sea and mountain view. The sauna also shared this amazing view. There was something quite special about sitting in the searing heat of a sauna whilst looking out the window!

It is important to note that although we went to the Slieve Donard without Zak, lots of people chose to take their children. The hotel has a policy of children being allowed to use the pool between 9am and 12 noon, then again from 3pm to 6pm. We found that this was strictly enforced, but children being around didn’t disturb us too much.

All in all, I can whole-heartedly recommend a stay at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, especially if you’re looking for a child-free getaway in Northern Ireland. I recommend booking one of the Resort Double rooms and make sure you ask for a sea-view.

You can find out more about the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa by visiting their website here.

For more information about visiting Northern Ireland, visit the Discover Northern Ireland website.

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