Shandon Hotel & Spa nestles in idyllic Irish countryside

Overlooking rolling hills, a crescent-shaped fine-sand beach and sheer cliffs along the famous ‘Wild Atlantic Way,’ the Shandon Hotel & Spa occupies an outstanding rural Irish setting.

Located in Portnablagh on the rugged northwest coast in county Donegal, this 4-star, 50-room property with panoramic views over Sheephaven Bay and Marble Hill Beach has been recently renovated before re-opening last year after being closed for several years.

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While offering an idyllic Irish retreat, the hotel is not wholly isolated, with the charming coastal town of Dunganaghy a mere 10-minute drive away and Letterkenny, the region’s largest urban center, just 25 minutes. Derry, in Northern Ireland is 45 minutes away, while Belfast is about two hours. The hotel is four hours drive from Dublin.

Our room was extremely comfortable with all the modern amenities and a wonderful view down to the beach. A short walk brought us down to the hotel’s indoor swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi. The hotel’s spa is in a separate building, a few steps from the hotel’s main entrance, and an outdoor tennis court is also available.

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A highlight of the Shandon is its lounge bar which also combines as a restaurant. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and an open turf fire, guests can indulge in a marvelous view of the broad bay while dining on a menu that ranges from freshly-caught local fish to hefty sirloin and ribeye steaks.

So popular is the hotel, group activities are plentiful, from birthdays to hen parties. While there for a recent 2-night stay, a lively ‘Wedding Fair’ took place hosted by Perfect Bliss. The event included creative nuptial entertainment options such as Mr. Majestic, a professional magician, and talented local cellist Laura McFadden.

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Colloquially known as the ‘Forgotten County,’ Donegal is bereft of major highways and is a haven of leisurely backcountry driving. Activities are plentiful in the area such as horse-riding at Dunfanaghy Stables, sailing and kayaking with Selkie Sailing or JAWS Water Sports and golfing at several local clubs. Glenveagh National Park and Ards Forest Park are nearby, as is the historic 19th century Dunfanaghy Workhouse used during the tragic Irish famine and the Dunlewey Centre (Ionad Cois Locha), a family activities center with lake boat tours and an adventure playground including climbing frames, zip-wires, rodeo bull, climbing walls, pedalos, zorb balls and bouncy castles.

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For anyone seeking an elegant hotel located amidst glorious Irish coastal countryside, the Shandon Hotel is an excellent choice.

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