Posted on | May 9, 2010 | No Comments
I was blown in the door of the Renvyle House Hotel by gale force winds and almost immediately tripped over two preschoolers playing tag in the lobby. I had to step quickly out of the way and only took a brief look at the surroundings before checking in. I’d been reading about the history of Renvyle House (A Sea-Grey House) prior to our visit so I was full of facts about the property but I’d been struggling to picture the buildings in my head. There are many large manor houses and castles in Ireland, but I didn’t expect that. I also knew it wouldn’t be a modern hotel. The actual property is modest in proportion but warm and inviting and in a truly beautiful location.
Arriving during a holiday weekend when the weather was miserable was a perfect time to see how and why this hotel is rated as one of the most family-friendly places to stay in Ireland. On the main floor, there is a large, staffed indoor play-space for children (12 and younger) with toys, games, arts and crafts – and a TV in the corner. Parents can opt for children to eat evening meals in this area instead of in the restaurant – kid-free dinner, how cool is that? There’s also a lounge area along one side of the building and a cosy, comfortable bar. For us weary travelers, Renvyle was a perfect place in which to find a corner to relax and unwind. My favorite part about the hotel was the way all the staff seemed to be completely unfazed by the many kids playing around them – in fact, more than glad to see them running around and having fun.
Various family members had told me about a recent trend in Irish hotels where larger rooms, usually suites intended for families, are built onto the hotel property giving guests with children the best of both worlds: the spaciousness of a two-room apartment with access to hotel facilities. Our room at the Renvyle House was the first time I’d experienced staying at this kind of development and I whole-heartedly approve. There are four such apartments at the back of the hotel, nicely integrated into the look and feel of the original hotel building. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a comfortable sitting room, our suite was just the right size for us to spread out and relax after our travels. My one, minor suggestion to the management to make these suites perfect would be to furnish each with a fridge and microwave – if only to store leftovers from the sumptuous and generous meals provided in the hotel restaurant.
The next morning jet-lag had my husband and I awake with the birds. Our boys were still sleeping soundly – the previous day’s walk in the wind in Clifden must have had the desired effect of helping them knock their jet-lag on the head. I checked online and found that sunrise would be within the next ten minutes. Deciding that it would be fun walk on the beach at sunrise we shook CAM awake, told him we were going for a short walk, and headed out. It was raining, a drizzle at first but developing into a full downpour as daylight sneaked up on us over the next half hour. We went from struggling to see the ground ahead to admiring the view of Inisbofin in the distance but it took a lot longer than ten minutes – there’s obviously a Connemara sunrise adjustment interval to confuse unsuspecting visitors.
This being day three of our trip, operation time-zone-adjustment was still in effect for all of us. In other words, we needed plenty of active time outside today – rain or no rain. Over breakfast we asked our waiter about hikes in the area. He directed us to Connemara National Park in Letterfrack and as I described in an earlier post, it was a great recommendation. When we returned to the hotel in the evening, I discovered that the hotel offers many activities for guests – classes in yoga and sea angling, for example. We perused those and the information on local attractions. I came up with a plan which I thought would work well for my boys and their grandparents (who would be with us the following day) but I didn’t count on my aunt, who lives in the area. As a local, she had very definite ideas about where to take us to get a truly “off the beaten path” experience. You’ll have to check back to discover the places to which she introduced us 🙂
Information on traveling to Ireland with kids.