I reckoned that I must have been the only person in the country not familiar in some way with the Slieve Russell Hotel – I’d never played golf there, never attended a wedding, never booked a weekend break and never even knew where it was actually located. I was finally heading there on Sunday night, when they’d no problem honouring an out of date Groupon voucher for Bed and Breakfast.
‘Ah The B’Jayziz Hotel‘ nods a beloved sister-in-law wisely when I tell her where we were headed!
‘What’s wrong with it‘ – my obvious retort!
‘Not a thing – you’ll know when you see it‘ – her only explanation!
So off we head to County Cavan in what is known as the border region. Ireland’s interior counties may be overlooked by many visitors who gravitate towards our stunning coastline but Cavan has its own unique landscape with over 300 lakes, rolling drumlins (small hills formed by glacial ice) and forest parks.
Ireland has four provinces Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught. They are each made up of counties – 32 in all. Ulster is made up of 9 counties. 6 of those are in Northern Ireland and the remaining 3 – Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan – are in the Republic of Ireland.
There’s lovely scenery to be enjoyed on your trip to the hotel….
And then!!! Jayziz – she’s right!!!
There’s nothing subtle about the approach to the hotel nor its exterior! And its huge!
There’s plenty of parking so we’re inside fairly quickly. A sign directs us to the queuing area for registration. A bit optimistic I think, considering the pandemic! I feel as though I’ve arrived at a Las Vegas Resort – you know the ones where you queue for at least an hour because you haven’t paid in advance to skip the main registration desk! Needless to say it wasn’t on that scale …. but I had to queue behind 4 other arrivals.
They’re doing all right for a Sunday night I reckon as I wait …. because the place is really busy (at least by Covid standards).
Registration is quick once I get to the top of the queue…. I’ve already booked times for dinner, breakfast and the pool as requested. I’m given 3 A4 pages of Covid reading and off we go to our room.
Bedrooms are built around a courtyard and we are facing inward but that’s ok.
Our sealed room is surprising big with a seating area. The kettle and tea/coffee facilities have been thankfully left in the room. Bottled water has been done away with but there are dispensers on the corridors.
There are lots of reception rooms and nooks and crannies in which to sit and relax. It being a Sunday night I’d a definite preconceived idea re the guest demographic – a few middle aged / silver haired couples scattered about the place. All right – there were plenty of those but a surprising number of young couples (as in their 20’s) and some smaller groups of golfers. Listening to chat that evening and the following morning (no I wasn’t eavesdropping! – I can’t help it if people speak loudly!) there were a lot of regular guests and repeat visitors.
There are plenty of leisure facilities:
The site is extensive:
Lovely corner bedrooms….
You can enjoy a round of golf or the driving range..
…or just enjoy a 2.5km walk around the grounds…
We had 4 options for dinner – we could eat in the bar, the golf club or one of 2 dining rooms. We decided to treat ourselves to the Conall Cearnach restaurant. The place was surprising full when we arrived at 8.30pm. Reservations were for 90 minutes but as we were one of the last bookings of the night, we didn’t have to vacate our table bang on 10.00pm.
Our starters of pork rolls and warm brie salad cost circa €10. We went for baked cod in a herb crust (€19.75) and ducking (€27.85). Mains were accompanied by potatoes and veg. All our choices were delicious and justified the price (well…. maybe the duckling was a bit expensive!). There were no half bottles of red available on the night – most glasses of wine cost €7.
The surprise of the night came after dinner. We were heading to our room shortly after 10.00pm when we heard live music coming from the bar. While I’d usually run a mile from hotel entertainment, the draw of a live event after 6 months was irresistible! A young guy on guitar was churning out favourites to a packed (socially distanced) bar and foyer. It was an absolute joy to hear so many voices bellowing out John Denver’s Country Roads and the Monkee’s Daydream Believer!!!!
Breakfast was in the same dining room with 45 minutes slots (prebooked). Freshly chopped fruit was presented in individual bowls. Cereals were in packets (you can order porridge). There was no sign of cold meats, cheeses etc. but presumably that could be ordered. Hot food and breads were of the usual buffet style and fare but were served by a member of staff.
Very Covid aware
Plenty of parking
Food very good with a choice of eating areas
Lots of public seating areas
Nice pool and leisure facilities
Extensive grounds and gardens for walking or sitting
Nothing except a matter of personal taste – if you prefer small boutique hotels then this is not the place for you.
Once I got over the initial shock, everything was great. The place is big but it can absorb a crowd. Food was very good and there was a nice atmosphere about the place – I can understand people revisiting. I was glad it wasn’t a weekend – kids are back at school so there was only the odd baby around. There are lovely grounds to enjoy – even if you’re not a golfer.
Would I go back? At 2 hours (drive) from Dublin, I’d go back if I got a good offer. The village of Ballyconnell is 3km away and while nice for a walk and a quick visit, it won’t hold your attention for long. In fine weather, there are touring and walking options in both Cavan and nearby Fermanagh. In bad weather there are corners in which to curl up with your book for a few hours. There are enough dining options to offer a good choice over a few days.
Hotel Website: https://www.slieverussell.ie/