Yes, it was sunny in Inchydoney!
We drove down to Inchydoney with a quick pitstop for lunch at Fenns Quay in Cork City and soon we were in Clonakilty, looking for the signs to bring us out to the hotel. On the way, we passed the Model Railway Village and I immediately thought of my late and much loved father in law Damien who loved three things : model railways, the sea and a healthy measure of Irish Mist. Within 15 minutes, we had encountered all three and I knew it was a good omen. The hotel overlooks the Blue Flag public beach and has stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
While we waited for our room to be prepared, we were invited to have a seat in front of a roaring fire and a glass of Irish Mist - Damien would have been thrilled. Our room was large, lavish and had a very comfy bed. It also had a Nespresso machine (lovely...), a balcony with stunning ocean views and a plate of chocolates which The Hubs made short work of. We didn't have time to linger as we were booked into the Island Spa for a Seawater Massage Bath. It was much more relaxing than it sounds - water is pumped in from the sea, heated to 31 degrees and you just lie in the giant blue bath while jets of water roll up and down your body. We staggered out afterwards and could barely make our way to the loungers in the Relaxation area where we both promptly nodded off. Marvellous stuff!
We made our way into Clonakilty for dinner and a few drinks before coming back to the hotel for a relatively early night because we had another spa treatment early (10am is the crack of dawn for The Hubs at the weekend...) on Saturday morning. With that in mind, we decided to order breakfast in our room to maximise the snoozing time. I opted for poached eggs on a potato farl with mushrooms while The Hubs had a Coolea cheese, red onion & tomato omelette. They were beautifully presented and tasted magnificent - a rarity for any hotel room service breakfast... we were very impressed. Time to don the bathrobes again and return to the spa for a couples Chocolate Sensualite Ritual where we were scrubbed with a chocolate, orange & marine salt body polish, smothered in a chocolate body wrap and left to bake for 20 minutes before showering it all off and being anointed with a delicious smelling lotion. I smelled like my Chocolate Brownies and absolutely adored the experience, as did The Hubs. Another spell on a lounger in the Relaxation room and it was time for a walk on the beach.
The beach at Inchydoney has Blue Flag status which basically means it's the best. It was long, sandy and great fun to walk along. Apart from us two idiots forgetting to pack the SPF 50 and ending up with spectacular farmers tans... who knew we'd actually get a sunny day in July in Ireland? As it was so sunny, the beach and the public car park filled up really fast and soon the quiet beach was packed with kids building sandcastles and parents trying to read the paper in peace!
Later that afternoon, we decided to forego lunch in favour of Afternoon Tea. It's one of my secret pleasures and this didn't disappoint with delicious open smoked salmon sandwiches, the crumbliest orange spiced scones and delicate tiramisu squares on our cakestand. We had a grandstand view of the gardens where a wedding party having their reception at the hotel, were having photos taken. We also appointed ourselves fashion judges of the guests. What a leisurely way to spend the afternoon...
That evening, we had a special dinner in the Gulfstream Restaurant - it was a specially created Taste of West Cork menu and including canapes and amuse bouche, there were 9 courses in total. We started our epic meal with some canapes in the Lounge which included marinated Macroom beef, salmon tartare and prawns wrapped in potato. We then moved on to Ummera Smoked Chicken ballotine with Rosscarbery celeriac as our Amuse.
Next, we had roast loin of Dunmanway rabbit, stuffed with raisins, pinenuts and spinach, pumpkin puree, Clonakilty black pudding, confit garlic and pesto, followed by beetroot and orange cured salmon with a quail egg, creme fraiche and pomegranate jelly.
Time for a breather. This was a Raspberry Sorbet with a Barry's Tea sherbert lurking on the spoon and it made us giggle a lot. I love retro sweets like Space Dust and Sherbert so I was in my element here. I couldn't detect the tea but the sherbert was very tangy and gave us a much-needed second wind.
This is the last of the photos as the light declined very rapidly, so you'll just have to rely on my descriptions instead. Up there is roasted Cannon of Macroom Lamb, Celeriac Puree and the most divine Royal Potato. It was exquisite and I'm afraid to ask for the recipe as I know it just contained potato and butter, lots and lots of butter. Our next plate was Bere Island Scallops with Pickled Apple, Cured Gubbeen Ham and a Mussel Cream.
Dessert was a West Cork Summer Berry Soup and this was the only letdown of the evening. The berries were liberally sprinkled with rosemary needles which I didn't enjoy. I thought it clashed horribly with the sweet fruit and I couldn't finish it. The meal concluded with a tiny plate of Smoked Gubbeen cheese on homemade cheese biscuits and some handmade chocolate truffles. Luckily the plate was tiny because we were seriously in danger of having a Mr. Creosote moment by this stage...
The following morning, we woke to find that the sun had vanished and we were absolutely starving - one of the contradictions of having a huge meal the previous evening! We made our way back to the Gulfstream Restaurant for breakfast which was unbelievably good. It's all buffet style although there is a small cooked to order menu which includes kippers and pancakes. We started off with good intentions - the homemade Bircher Muesli with pink grapefruit and apricots was very restorative but then we realised we had a long drive home, so ambled up to the hot buffet which was manned by a staff member, so everything was in perfect condition, unlike self service tables in other hotels. It would have been rude not to try the local sausages and rashers, and I needed a white pudding fix...
All too soon, it was time to pack the bags and head for home. Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa is the most relaxing place I've ever spent a weekend. It's in an idyllic location, has terrific food, fantastic accommodation and most importantly, incredible staff. Everybody smiled and said hello and it was apparent that they genuinely meant it. I can't wait to return.
Sincere thanks to the management and staff of Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa for their very kind hospitality and thanks also to the team at Conway Communications for arranging the trip.