When we arrived at the Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links, we were immediately struck by its close proximity to the Coastline, this hotel is literally on the beach. The hotel itself is a beautiful marriage of old and new. The original house of the hotel was the family home of the famous whiskey family, the Jameson’s. When you walk in the front door of the hotel you’re greeted by a striking, bright lobby and welcoming staff behind reception. We were delighted to be staying in the Ireland’s Eye Suite. The suite was an impressive size with incredible views of the sea and, you guessed it, the island of Ireland’s Eye! The highlight of the suite was opening the balcony doors and just listening to the waves crashing on the beach.
We were booked into the ‘Sea View at Portmarnock’ lounge for lunch. We simply had to try the tempting Afternoon Tea menu, which includes a tower of savoury items such as Jameson Glazed Smoked Salmon and Low & Slow Pulled Irish Ham. The sweet items included some of the most scrumptious Warm Homemade Fruit Scones we’ve tried and a selection of exquisite Mini Patisserie items. We must give praise to the pastry chef at the hotel for the delectable array of delicate treats on the afternoon tea tower, he presented works of art that tasted just as amazing as they looked. The classic afternoon tea at the hotel is €40pp with a prosecco option for €49.50. We also relished the Jameson’s Steak Sandwich on Sourdough (€19.50). This hearty sandwich included seared fillet tail, Jameson aioli, mizuna, a mushroom ketchup and was served with fries.
After lunch, we explored the hotel grounds and worked up an appetite walking the picturesque Portmarnock beach. Hotel guests can access the beach through a private entrance from the hotel property. Before dinner, we headed for some pre-dinner cocktails, where the talented bartender made us a superb Jameson Whiskey Sour and an Espresso Martini.
Later that evening, we dinned in the Jameson Bar. Executive head chef Tommy Butler, who joined the hotel last year, has created a menu that stays true to the heritage of the old house with Jameson whiskey flavours intertwined throughout the various dishes on the menus. Speaking about his direction with the food offering at the hotel, Tommy told us “My goal here with the food is to reinvent it a little, and to simplify things using local good quality ingredients, that really highlight the area that we are in. I want us serving good simple food, classics like juicy burgers, great fish cakes and roast chickens, all keeping a good link to the heritage and the connection that this hotel has to the famous Jameson family”.
We enjoyed a delicious three course meal in the relaxed setting of the Jameson Bar. There is plenty of choice on the menu, our problem was we wanted it all! We choose the House Recipe Hummus of roasted red pepper and paprika (€7.50) and Clogherhead Crab Cakes (€12.50) for our starters. The tasty crab cakes had a spicy kick from the ginger and chilli which was perfectly contrasted with the sweetness of the crème fraiche, mango, lime, coriander salsa. For our mains, we had Roast Atlantic Hake (€23.50)and a 14oz Salt Aged Bone in Rib Eye (€38.00).The hake was served with tender stem broccoli, and a gnocchi and roast red pepper ragout. This was a indeed a simple dish where the fresh flavours complimented each other. The Ribeye was classically presented with roast vine tomatoes, grilled flat cap mushroom, onion ring, house fries and served with a Jameson Black Barrel peppercorn cream. Once again the desserts were an indulgent treat, that you most definitely need to leave room for! We devoured a decadent Berry Pavlova with a colourful array of Wexford strawberry sorbet, vanilla cream, strawberry and hibiscuses. The Caramelized Bread & Butter Pudding with salted caramel ice cream was the ultimate comfort dessert and is something we are going to long for again.
Our experience at the hotel was completed with a Jameson Whiskey Tasting Masterclass, which not only included trying the various Jameson Whiskeys available behind the bar, but also learning about the history of the Jameson family who lived in original house that forms part of the hotel. The experience was topped off with a tour of the old house, with a very knowledgeable member of staff who regaled us with stories of some of the famous guests that stayed in the house including King Edward VII of England and his wife Queen Alexandra, who visited Portmarnock as guests of the Jameson’s in 1907.
Our time at the hotel was short and we didn’t get to enjoy the Spa, which offers a unique combination of tranquil ambience and indulgent treatments. The hotel boasts an award winning golf course, which because of its beach front location, was rated number 14 on ‘Golfscape’s Best Courses In The World’. So, the bottom line is there are many reasons to return to the Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links again!
As a couple from Dublin, with a young family, we often look for one or two night hotel breaks, but are reluctant to travel too far. The Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links is a perfect choice as it provides all the benefits of a country estate escape, plus the added advantage of the stunning beach, yet it is only 10 minutes off the M50 and Dublin airport, making it the ideal break away for Dubliners or those who fancy a trip to Dublin or city break.
By Abigail Fox Carroll & Clyde Carroll