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Trip Report Check out this amazing hotel just off the coast of Galway

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For all those who want to dream... I am just back from 2 days in the most wonderful hotel in Ireland!

www.inismeain.com

Inis Meain is a tiny island off the coast of Galway, one of the smaller Aran islands. Easy to get to either by 5 minute plane ride from south Galway, or by boat from Galway or Clare. There is nothing there except sea, cliffs, animals, walks, a couple of ancient stone forts and PEACE. I have gone to Inis Meain before just for a day trip but heard of this amazing new hotel and decided it might be a nice mothers day present for my mum. We went there the 3 of us in August (my mum, my daughter and myself) and were really lucky with the weather, which probably did colour our enjoyment of the place.

The hotel is quite unlike anywhere I have ever stayed, for a number of reasons. Architecturally it is really interesting, designed by a top Irish architect who is originally from Inis Meain. From higher up on the island it is hard to make out the hotel as it just looks like another stone wall. It is completely clad in the stones of the island and inside the rooms are bare walls, a kind of industrial feel, but with wonderful timber windows and timber presses / benches, beautiful soft furnishings and an amazing picture window so that you are drawn all the time to the outside. Not that the views are of anything special, just stone walls, cows and sea/mountains in the distance, but it is all about the outside and nature.

The whole idea here is that you are on a nature retreat. There are only 5 rooms so the hotel is so quiet. The only thing you can hear is the sound of birds chirping and cows lowing. No radio, no TV, and the staff just leave you alone to enjoy the nature at your own pace. Each morning they unobtrusively leave you breakfast in the ante-room (a kind of hall that you go through to get into your room). You make your own tea and coffee whenever you get up, and eat the goodies in the breakfast box they have left for you.

An aspect I loved is that they also leave you a rucksack with soup and foccacia to take with you on your hikes round the island during the day, together with everything else you could possibly need to explore the island (bikes, baited fishing rods, beach towels, nature books, binoculars, ash walking sticks).

The restaurant in the hotel is top notch - tiny, with just enough tables for the 5 rooms of residents and maybe two or three other tables for non-residents. The chef (one of the owners, a husband and wife team) has just been shortlisted for the best chef and best restaurant in the Food & Wine Irish restaurant awards.

So if you are a foodie, an architecture lover, a nature lover, or just want to get away from it all for a few blissful days, I can recommend this place. As I said in my tripadvisor report, it's not often that you pay a VERY hefty bill on leaving a hotel and yet feel that it has been a privilege to stay there.

You need to book months in advance, and there is a minimum stay of 2 nights. I think it is only open April to October.

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