Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea stands this beautifully restored Victorian era hotel. With the Irish Sea and stretch of sandy beach on one side, and Royal County Down golf course on the other, this imposing building dominates the seaside town of Newcastle and is nothing short of a local legend. Find it just under one hour’s drive from Belfast.
A £15m development has elevated the old girl to luxurious levels, without compromising its 19th Century grandeur. Most rooms come with ‘wow factor’ sea and mountain views, and the suites take the experience up another notch with fireplaces, iPod docks and what can only be described as a disco bath – inbuilt lights change colour while you soak. Love it!
Sumptuous and spacious, this relatively new addition to the Slieve Donard experience ensures your relaxing break lives up to its billing. Two levels really make the most of those views, and the ESPA therapies are indulged across 16 treatment rooms. A 20m Swimming Pool, Vitality Pool and a heady array of steam, sauna, shower and spa experiences keep the skin tingling. Why not try the Jet Lag Reviver Wrap and Jet Lag Eliminating Massage pre- and post-stay? They really do think of everything.
Visitors from all parts of the globe make the pilgrimage to play the iconic links of Royal County Down, and are never disappointed. They savour the twin delights of the superb seaside course and the stunning scenery of the area.
Many experts regard the par-71 course as the most outstanding test of links golf in the world. American multi-Major winner Tom Watson, who competed there during the European Senior British Open, described the course as - "the finest most natural links I have ever played." Proof of Watson's opinion is backed by Royal County Down's fourth-placed ranking among the best courses on the planet.
Rory Doran, an assistant to RCD professional Kevin Whitsun, said: "We are listed the best course outside of the United States. In recent times, we extended the par four 16th hole by 30 yards, making it more difficult than when it was reachable off the tee. This adds to the standing of the course." Royal County Down includes some of the strongest short holes in seaside golf - starting with the 212-yards fourth, and no mater the weather conditions always proves an exacting examination.
The hotel’s home-grown menu mantra is neatly encapsulated in a Food Provenance booklet which showcases the local origins of its bread, meats and dairy delights. Which means, whether dining in The Oak Restaurant or Percy French Inn - a pub-style bistro located near the entrance of the six acre Resort, you’re guaranteed a great feed of gourmet Irish grub. The Lighthouse Lounge beside the Spa is the place to head for healthy lunches and the Slieve Donard Afternoon Tea.
The foyer’s mini Museum recalls over 100 years of Slieve Donard history, from its majestic railway hotel origins to VIP overnights from an impressive roll call of big names including Desmond Tutu, Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta Jones and Charlie Chaplin, after whom the bar is named.