Fodor's Expert Review Slieve Donard Resort & Spa

Downs Rd., Newcastle, Co. Down, BT33 0AH, Northern Ireland Fodor's Choice

A lavish redbrick monument to Victoriana, this turreted hotel, built in 1898, stands like a palace on green lawns at one end of Newcastle's 6½-km (4-mile) sandy beach; the traditional furnishings help make it feel like stepping back in time to the town's turn-of-the-20th-century heyday as an elegant seaside resort, though the bright guest rooms have modern comforts. Ask for a room overlooking the water from where the views of the mountains and sea are striking—although they cost £30 extra. Amenities include a stylishly designed 16-room spa complete with saunas, amethyst steam rooms, and vitality pools. During 2020, the spa rooms were refurbished but a highlight remains: the 110-minute Celtic Journey (£175) which begins with an Irish tea ritual before moving on to a sea-salt foot bath, an ocean wrap, and a back massage using seashells. For breakfast, the enormous buffet caters to all tastes with an assortment of 17 fastidiously sourced local artisanal ingredients from Annalong kippers, Malachy McKenna mushrooms, and waggle dance honey, to porridge with a drizzle of Bushmills whiskey or its very own "scuffins"—a cross between a scone and a muffin. Dinner and Sunday lunch are served in the Oak Restaurant. Chaplin's Bar is named after a visit to the hotel by Charlie Chaplin, who enjoyed its comforts for a weekend in 1921. The Royal County Down Golf Club is next door.


  • appealing mix of luxury, history, and style
  • King Koil "cloud beds" in all rooms
  • breakfasts are top-notch


  • slightly corporate feel despite elegant architecture
  • occasional noise from wedding receptions
  • sea-view rooms are pricey


Near the beach


Phones: 028-4372–1066


180 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

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