By Rebecca Lee
Wanting an escape from everyday Dublin and in search of some entertainment, I decided to visit Cork with a friend to experience ‘The Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival’ choosing The River Lee Hotel as my base. The River Lee Hotel which is part of The Doyle Collection has over The SFSH festival is a brand new event that celebrates music, art and conversation. Featuring over 450 artists in 4 days it’s safe to say it gave my breakaway that added X Factor. How did The River Lee Hotel fare and how did I find Cork the fifth visit round? Does Cork ever lose its appeal as a holiday hotspot? This writer thinks not.
Set the mood
Cosy, quaint and modern, The River Lee Hotel greets those looking for a great escape with polished revolving doors, a grand piano and a rather cosy open reception area with couches so comfy you won’t physically want to go to your room. The relaxed atmosphere and the dulcet tones of the hotels interior puts you immediately at ease when you first walk in. My friend and I were greeted with a warm, friendly welcome by staff and were immediately given a map where they kindly marked a number of ‘decent’ eateries and places to visit over the course of our weekend. Another nice rather unusual touch was the hot towels we were given which helped us relax into our haven of relaxation for the weekend. We were then shown to our room an executive suite which was of a decent size with a sinkable king size bed, modern, mellow lighting and a large, mahogany dresser and mirror. We also had the usual quirks such as tea/coffee facilities, a large wardrobe and a flatscreen TV. In addition to this we were granted that added bonus of access to the hotel’s executive lounge.
The River Lee Hotel
Wanting a real treat, we booked ourselves a table at the hotel’s restaurant and bar The Weir Rooms. As the facility is quite proudly perched over The River Lee we decided to sit on the hotel’s impressive terrace which overlooks the Lee and provides a beach balmy like atmosphere. There we happily sampled some of the hotels dishes and indulged in some fine wine. The highlight of our three course affair without a doubt had to be the hotels banoffee pie. As a caramel and biscuit addict I was rather surprised to find The Weir Room’s version of this infamous desert was made with a banana mousse, pecan nuts and topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Unusual, however in its defence it was that good there was no room for any calorie counting. As they say in Cork the banoffee and my main course of steak and market vegetables was ‘the berries’.
For a true Cork experience that won’t cost a penny (provided you don’t get too excited about food like I did!) why not visit the famous English Market which is simply buzzing at weekends. People buy all sorts of local produce at this foodie heaven from chocolates, to artisan breads, to duck eggs and good old fashioned fruit and veg. It is the old, traditional feel and Cork accents that fly around that make it a truly enjoyable experience. You can sample the foods if you wish, talk to traders and collapse over a fresh cup of coffee after a hectic day in one of the markets many cafes which are cool, calm and offer a few minutes escape from the madness of the market.
Checking out the English market
Our stay at the River Lee was extremely pleasant and the hotel’s location could not be beaten. Situated just a ten minute walk from the heart of Cork city which is dotted with restaurants, pub, shops and attractions it’s a win-win holiday hotspot for people of all ages. In addition to its main restaurant it boasts a bar area and offers leisure facilities which while basic include a gym, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna area.
We couldn’t shake the feeling that the lighting in the rooms was a little too dark meaning my friend and I fought over the mirror each evening. While splashing a bit extra for the executive suite with the added benefit of a private lounge there was zero alcohol on offer which let’s be honest is a nice touch on any trip getaway, business or otherwise. Also when it came to accessing the hotel’s leisure facilities we were advised to walk outside the front of the hotel to go through a separate entrance which meant everyone and anyone could see us donning our bathrobes, which was not a good look!
Get me there
The River Lee Hotel is super easy to find. Located on the outskirts of Cork City, you can get there by car, bus or train (with the bus and trains stations a few minutes’ walk away) For more information call 021 425 2700 or visit http://www.doylecollection.com. Prices start at €70 per person per night. Also for information on next year’s Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival see http://www.soundsfromasafeharbour.com.
Me by the River Lee
For a true Cork feel and to experience beautiful views I would recommend requesting a room that overlooks the River Lee. Although there’s no guarantee of getting one the hotel’s positioning makes for a perfectly pleasant hotel experience.
As featured on Independent.ie