Getting engaged is a whirl of celebratory lunches and popping Champagne corks, when everyone you know will want to see you to raise a glass and hear all of the proposal details. It’s a really lovely time, but one that can be a little hectic too.
So, I’d highly recommend booking a short break with your new betrothed – a chance for just the two of you to really enjoy being wrapped up in the engagement bubble (with the bonus of no one asking whether you have made any wedding plans yet).
A truly special occasion deserves an equally special destination, so myself and my new fiancé headed for Kenmare and checked into Sheen Falls Lodge for our own romantic break…
Nestled against the water in Kenmare Bay under the shadow of the mountains – snow-capped peaks in the distance at the time of our visit – Sheen Falls Lodge is surely one of the most romantically situated hotels in Ireland. You’ll know that this luxurious hotel is a five-star from the moment that you step through the front door, where the staff were as warm as the welcome drink presented to us in front of a roaring fire.
Set against tasteful grey paint and wooden mid-century furniture, there’s an entire art gallery to be found inside Sheen Falls Lodge. From the huge lights made of antlers in the entranceway to the ceramic flowers and birds mounted on the walls, everywhere you look there’s an artistic touch that gives this hotel real personality. We happily wandered around the corridors looking at the hundreds of paintings, which encompass everything from a collection of hens on the stairway to bold flowers in the dining room. Best of all are the illustrations of whimsical dresses that are scattered throughout the property, each one more beautiful than the last.
Walking into the Sheen Suite was a true wow moment. The room itself was huge – an enormous bed facing a couch and fireplace, with a desk to one side and a small dining table in front. In any other place they’d be enough to rave about, but at this hotel the view makes everything else pale into insignificance. With glass floor-to-ceiling on three sides, our suite looked directly out onto where the River Sheen passes under an 18th century stone bridge and becomes the waterfall that gives the hotel its name. In stormy February the rain lashing down only added to the might of the rushing water below. We sat together and enjoyed a board of Irish cheeses and local Lorge chocolates, and sipped glasses of Port while looking out on this mesmerising scene. It felt properly loved up and is an experience I’ll remember forever.
Large, with his and hers sinks, a rainfall shower and a full-size bath which my other half spent a relaxing hour in while I curled up on the couch with my book.
Many hotels claim to be moving away from single use plastics, but I was delighted to see some clear evidence of this at Sheen Falls where the Elemis products in the room are in large containers that are refilled instead of replaced daily. I’ve never considered how much plastic is in my stash of taken-home-from-hotels mini toiletries before. There was a recycling bin provided in our room also.
Not the softest robe I’ve ever worn, but far from a sandpaper feel all the same. Generous length and size so you can actually swaddle yourself. The grey robes in the spa were a step up again.
A proper brand name appliance, not one of those awful yokes attached to the wall. Tricky to find a socket that faced a mirror though.
On our first night we ate in the hotel’s bistro, where there was limited seating and a €24 burger that was, well, unexcitng. The €23 penne with pesto and chicken was a better bet, but not earth-shattering considering the price tag. Our second night took us to the Falls Restaurant, where chef Cormac McCreary’s menu is priced at €59 per person for two courses and €76 for three. Unlike the night before, the food was spectacular and decidedly good value.
After an amuse bouche of goat’s yoghurt with mango, I opted for the langoustine in a spiced bisque, and my fiancé had the cured mackerel with oyster and cucumber. Both were delicious. For mains, he had the Carrigcleena duck breast while I had a fillet of beef with beef cheek and bone marrow that was, hand on heart, one of the nicest dishes I have ever eaten. We opted for apple mille feuilles and Valrhona chocolate and hazelnut tart for dessert, and then got to choose some gorgeous petits fours presented in a delightful wooden box.
The Easanna Wellness & Spa area is located within the hotel, so there’s no need to dash across the carpark like at some other locations. Bright and airy, it has five treatment rooms using Elemis and Voya products, as well as a small hair and make-up salon, pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. I enjoyed a one-hour Elemis Rejuvenating Massage while my other half took his first step towards getting wedding ready with the Men’s Facial, which included a head and foot massage. With both of us feeling floaty after our treatments, we lounged by the pool watching the rain stream down the glass roof. There were a lot of family groups staying at the hotel while we were there, so the pool itself was definitely a kids’ zone. Extra points for providing GHD straighteners as well as hairdryers in the changing rooms.
The Instagram spot
Safe to say that I took about 200 photos of the falls flowing under the stone bridge, both from inside and outside of the hotel. None of them properly capture how beautiful and powerful the water is when you’re there.
The stunning location coupled with the attention to detail at Sheen Falls Lodge makes a stay here feel like a properly memorable occasion. Plus, I would happily drive the four hours to Kenmare and back for just a forkful of that beef.
The five-star prices put this hotel firmly in the ‘special occasion’ bracket.
Kenmare town is located just across the bay, about a 25-minute walk although you’d be much safer to drive as much of the narrow road has no pathway. The town is really beautiful, but unfortunately our wandering was hampered by the storm so we stopped for tasty lunch at Mick & Jimmy’s and then hot-footed it back to the hotel. We’re determined to go back in better weather to explore the inviting shops and pubs, and for another loved up stay at Sheen Falls Lodge.
Her was invited to stay at Sheen Falls Lodge for a two-night stay in exchange for a fair and honest review. From Friday April 10, guests can avail of the hotel’s Eggsellent Easter Package which includes two or three nights’ accommodation with breakfast each morning and dinner on one night in Falls Restaurant. The packages are priced from €660 and €975 respectively, and include two adults or two adults and one child sharing a classic room. There’s a host of family-friendly Easter activities planned at the hotel that weekend, including breakfast with the Easter Bunny, face painting and an egg hunt.