“No, it’s not made out of ice”…
I found myself answering over and over to various people, in the days leading up to my stay at the Ice House.
I’m aware of course, that these Ice Hotels do exist around the world, where people can stay in gigantic ice structures, sleeping on ice-beds and dining at ice-tables. As unique an experience as it sounds, it’s not really my idea of an enjoyable night away in November!
No. Sign me up instead, for the chic Ice House in Mayo – which is named, thankfully, not for its structural materials, but for the rich history of the building. The original building was used in the 18th century to store salmon caught locally on the Moy Estuary. A huge amount of ice was needed to keep the salmon fresh before they continued their journey to the markets of Dublin and Liverpool, from which came the name – the Ice House.
Arriving at the hotel on a chilly Friday evening, there was still a definite hum of life from the place in spite of the bad weather. Clearly this is a place people will brave a cold, windy winter’s night for. Arriving inside to warm fires and an even warmer welcome, we were first shown to our suite and left to relax and make ourselves at home before dinner.
There are two types of suites at the Ice House – the Riverside Suites and the Heritage Suites, with the Heritage suites decorated in a beautiful old-world style, with antiques, patterned wallpaper and carved wooden bed frames – in keeping with the period of the original building. We were staying in one of the gorgeous Riverside Suites. More contemporary in style, with floor-to-ceiling windows and therefore uninterrupted views of the River Moy and the Belleek Woods on the opposite shore. As it was a bitterly cold outside, we had no desire to use the huge balcony just off our bedroom, but I could only imagine that in the summer, it would be an idyllic place to sit out and enjoy a glass of wine and watch the river course slowly by. The suite comprised of a separate bedroom and living room, as well as a luxuriously decorated bathroom with a huge bath and walk-in shower.
We dined that evening in the Riverview restaurant, which again makes the most of the hotel’s enviable location, overlooking the Moy, with floor to ceiling windows along one side. There is outdoor seating as well, and I’d imagine in the summertime this outdoor space is in high demand. The food, wine and service were all exceptional. The venison, which I chose for my main course was perfectly cooked, rich and decadent. Unable for dessert, after dinner we sat happily, finishing our wine, as people chatted around us, and servers bustled past. The restaurant maintains an atmosphere that is synchronously relaxed and energetic, and neither of us wanted to leave, enjoying the gentle buzz of conversation and the clinking of glasses around us.
The following morning, we rose early, knowing we needed to experience the award-winning Chill Spa before we left. We headed first, back to the restaurant for breakfast. The food was as good as it had been the night before. I chose the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, as I will whenever I see it gracing a breakfast menu. I also made sure to do one quick trip to the continental buffet, so as to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything! Sufficiently stuffed, we made our way back to our room to get ready for a quick trip to the spa.
Another merit of the Riverside Suites is undoubtedly the proximity to the spa facilities. Being just down the corridor from our room, we could wander down in our robes, without having to go through any of the main common areas of the hotel. The Chill Spa has 7 treatment rooms, and offers a full range of spa treatments, from massages to facials, using wonderful Voya products. They also have outdoor hot-tubs and an outdoor sauna, where one can relax, again with uninterrupted views of the river. It was particularly invigorating to emerge from the bubbling hot tub into the biting November air, before wrapping back up in my fluffy robe. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to partake of treatments, but I will definitely be back for one, as everything on the spa brochure looked so tempting.
Leaving the Ice House I felt fed, rested, and rejuvenated – everything you could want from a night away. The Ice House is perfect whether you’re looking for a weekend of decadent dining, or a detoxifying spa break. For more information on the Ice House and what is on offer, click here.
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