Monday, 1 June 2015

Seaweed Baths, Sand & Shells

I'm a bit (2 weeks) delayed in writing this blog but better late than never as they say.
For my best friend Bethany's birthday we decided to head to Strandhill for a relaxing night away. Last year for her 21st we went to Spain so this was a bit of a contrast but still involved the beach! I see a theme here...

Recently I was lucky enough to win a brilliant prize from Rude Health magazine consisting of an overnight stay in the 4* Strandhill Lodge & Suites, dinner in Trá Bán, a soak in Voya seaweed baths and lunch in Shells for 2 people. It came at such an opportune moment what with Bethany's birthday coming up.

After a brief bit of panic when the bus from town to Strandhill was 20 minutes late we arrived with about 20 minutes to spare as we booked our dinner for 6.30. We sat at the beachfront looking out onto the sea and then headed up to Trá Bán for our meal. I've eaten at Trá Bán before (read my previous blog here) but it was Bethany's first time doing any of the things in the Strandhill package so she was excited to see what all the fuss was about.

She chose the lamb pie, beef medallions and then apple crumble for dessert whilst I chose the fishcakes, cod and chips and chocolate chilli brownie. The food was amazing, all cooked to perfection and couldn't be faulted, as usual. Bethany said hers was cooked to perfection (and if she says that you know it's good) and went down well with a lovely glass of rosé each. Unfortunately the little compact camera I brought with me isn't great in low light so I didn't get any photos of our food but I can assure you it looked great! Trá Bán is such a gem, we don't know how lucky we are having places like this in Sligo. 

After a few minutes to let our food babies develop a bit we trekked up the hill to the suites. Let me tell you, it felt like walking the Camino Trail after having such a feast, but we made it in the end after a bit of groaning and complaining. I had been up earlier to drop my bag off and scatter a few balloons around to surprise Bethany so I knew how gorgeous the place was. The reception is so inviting and warm - not to mention how friendly the staff are. David, the owner, was so obliging and even found me some candles and matches to stick in a birthday muffin I got for Bethany! I lit the candle and set out a bottle of wine before Bethany came into the room so it would be a bit of a surprise for her.

We got a suite - the Atlantic Suite - which was incredible. The bedroom looked out onto the sea and Strandhill golf club and the views were beautiful. I don't know how many times I said to Bethany 'I want this bedroom' but it was probably way too many. The whole suite was so bright and airy. Huge velux skylights in the bedroom, a bright shiny bathroom, an impressive kitchenette with a Nespresso machine, a Bose sound system and 2 big wall mounted TVs with built-in DVD players.

After gawking at the room for a bit we pondered whether to check out The Draft House or just relax with some wine and a movie. The wine and movie option won because we were both already in our robes and pyjamas! I headed down to the lounge to pick a DVD from the extensive collection and also picked up a couple of hot chocolates from the free hot drinks machine, just about managing to resist the pain au chocolat. Little touches like these make a stay so much nicer!

After an amazing sleep (the place was so quiet and comfortable) it was time for breakfast. I didn't know breakfast was included in the stay until I booked so it was a pleasant surprise. For a continental breakfast the selection was great - cold cuts, cheeses, yoghurt, fruit, pancakes, eggs, cereals, loads of different teas, not to mention a huge range of gluten free cereals and bread. You really couldn't fault the breakfast.

After a massive breakfast we walked down to the main street for our seaweed baths. I've been to Voya before but again, Bethany hadn't, so I was excited to see her reaction. I know some people feel a bit funny about lying in a bath full of slimy seaweed but she found it so relaxing. I'm sure it would've been even more relaxing if we weren't being eejits and pretending to be mermaids shoving piles of seaweed on our heads. Regardless, when we left we were so chilled we nearly fell asleep.

 As we were still a bit full from breakfast we were debating skipping the lunch at Shells but decided we would take it on. As Shells is so popular we had to wait 15 minutes to get a table so we had a dander about the Little Shop. When we eventually got seated and had a look at the menu Bethany decided on a burger and I got a chicken salad as I wasn't that hungry. I also decided to try a matcha latte for the first time to see what the hype was about. It tasted a bit like the seaweed from that morning's seaweed bath mixed with some milk but it was surprisingly nice! 10/10 for Shells food as always.

Sadly it was then time to go home. After such a lovely relaxing holiday we truly felt like we'd had a holiday and didn't really want to go back home! If you're after a similar experience check out the Thrill of Strandhill package which offers all this and more - it's perfect for a weekend getaway.

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