It is rare that we get a night away without the kids so I was feeling fairly ecstatic about the down time and some well needed rest and relaxation. I didn’t know too much about the Ice House prior to our stay other than hearing that the views from the rooms were stunning and that they had a top-notch spa on site.
With a name like the Ice House I half imagined some sort of ice castle type structure where guests adorn fur robes and drink wine from goblets while they dine. Although, I do watch too much game of Thrones at the best of times.
So, we dropped the kids off at the in laws in Dublin and set off on our journey into the west. All in all the drive from Dublin was just a little over three hours and it flew by, we made the most of the time to ourselves chatting and singing along to some Madonna tunes, as you do. We made the obligatory lunch stop halfway for a cup of coffee and a sausage sandwich and then set off again.
Upon arriving into Ballina and towards the Ice House I was stuck by the beautiful scenery around the river, it all looked so peaceful. We pulled up right outside the hotel; they have a good amount of parking spaces along the river. Our check in time was 3pm, and my watch read 3.05pm, score, we made it on time.
We made our way into reception where we were warmly greeted by the girl on the front desk, and after a very quick check in one of the staff took our suitcase and led us to our suite. We first walked through a beautiful room, which reminded me of my grandmother’s house, warm, cozy and inviting. Then we went through a conservatory, which was adorned with an array of teapots and some seating, and then we descended below ground level and were guided onwards to our night’s accommodation. I have to say my jaw dropped a little when the door to the room opened, the suite comprised of two rooms, first there was a living room area, it had a floor to ceiling window with a sublime view of the river, a couch, table, desk space and flat screen TV mounted on the wall. Through a sliding door was the bedroom, a massive double bed, another TV and a balcony overlooking the river, and if this wasn’t enough the bathroom had a huge stand alone hot tub complete with candles and matches for a romantic soak.
We were in heaven, and didn’t want to leave the room, that is until I caught a glimpse of the outdoor hot tubs from our room. I was out of my clothes and into my swim shorts quicker than you could say hot tub!
We put on the robes provided in the room and walked up to the Spa, it was just gone 4 and we were booked in for treatments at 5. We went out to the outdoor decking area where they have two hot tubs alongside too wooden tubs, which are used for treatments such as seaweed baths etc. The hot tubs were bliss, looking out at the lake while you’re warm and cozy is an amazing feeling. You can even order a bottle of bubbley to sip while you soak if you so wish.
Five o’clock came too quickly, and it was time for the treatments. I choose a neck and head massage (40 mins) and my wife went for a back massage (40 mins). The treatment rooms are so inviting and relaxing and the whole experience was pure magic and I felt like a new man after. Once your treatment is done you go to a relaxation room where you can sip a herbal tea and chill for as long as you want.
Roll on 7pm, showered and dressed for dinner, as always I was ready first so went down to the bar for a pre dinner pint. My wife soon joined me and we made our 7.30 reservation on time.
Onto the food, at this point we were famished and excited for a three-course meal. The menu had plenty to entice our taste buds, to start I went for the Tiger Prawn Skewer which is served on a bed of chilli risotto while my wife went for the Pulled Ham Hock Terrine which came with a crispy poached hens egg. Both were divine and my risotto had a lovely kick to it from the chilli, not too hot though and didn’t take away from flavor from the prawns.
The mains were a Duo of Andarl Farm Pork , fillet and belly served with walnut, apricot and apple purée for herself and for me, I went for the special which was Halibut and was to die for, we had some accompanying potatoes and chilli Cajun wedges and a nice bottle of Bordeaux 2015 to bring it all together.
We gave ourselves a break before attempting dessert, which was divine. Warm Chocolate, Almond, Walnut and Orange cake for her good self while I was tempted with the Apple and Blackberry Crumble tartlet. It was a feast fit for a king, and after a coffee we retired to the bar for a couple of drinks before going back to make the most of that hot tub.
We decided to have breakfast in bed so left the order form on the door. Cut to 9.30 am the following morning, after a blissful sleep there was a knock on the door, it was our brekkie. A trolley full with delights, tea, coffee, and pastries, toast and of course the main event, two full Irish breakfasts. We took our time and enjoyed the meal whilst taking in the views from the room.
Check out wasn’t until 12 so we once again took advantage of the hot tubs and sauna before getting ourselves ready ad checked out.
Overall I found our stay exceeded any expectations I had, the place was fab, staff were accommodating and friendly, food was incredible and the overall feel of the place was perfect. I cannot recommend this place enough for a quiet break from the hustle and bustle. Ohh, and did I mention the outdoor hot tub.
Review By: Karol Daly aka Mister Dish