Hotel review

Hotel review: The Ice House offers relaxing wellness in the west

One of the perks of the Irish staycation over the past 21 months has been to say goodbye to the stress of the airport – those queues, security checks, all the new Covid restrictions, and arriving early “right at the case ‘before hanging out, wound up like a reel as you anxiously stare at TV screens for your flight details to show up. My blood pressure skyrockets just thinking about what’s going to get from A to B.

So imagine my surprise when, hours after leaving Dublin’s crowded docks, I became a Mayo mermaid. Languishing in the open air in a Corian bath filled with algae, I tasted fresh fruit, sorbet and mint tea while drinking in a panoramic view of the Moy River estuary in Ballina. As the city escapes it was pretty epic.

Arrival & location

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The Ice House overlooks the estuary of the River Moy

The Ice House overlooks the estuary of the River Moy

The exterior of the Ice House Hotel is sleek and contemporary when you park on the main road outside. The geometric masonry, inspired by the rock formations along the Wild Atlantic Way, glistens in the sun, and inside it’s a two-part tale and a fusion of architecture.

The original ice cream shop building has been a landmark on the Moy since 1836, and when checking in at reception you can look through a pane of glass in the floor. It is placed where ice was once poured to preserve the salmon before it is packaged and exported.

The original building now houses a handful of heritage suites, like the Bartra and the Moy, and the stone building serves as a hinge from which two long arms radiate out. Our living room and adjoining twin bedroom and bathroom were located in the wing of the Chill Spa, and we had an amazing view of the river. I put my seaweed “dog bag” away so I could take it home with me for two more uses. 9/10

Service & style

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Relax at the ice house


Relax at the ice house

Relax at the ice house

It doesn’t take long to experience the “boutique” hotel values ​​of this property. With 32 rooms, The Ice House feels homey without being overbearing, and the staff are very friendly and professional in all aspects.

The riverside thermal area and spa garden are at the heart of the Chill Spa’s outdoor wellness program. A new extension adds over 250 square meters of space, spanning the elevated bridge over the river, and I tried therapeutic treatments on hot Gharieni quartz crystal beds in new double therapy rooms. This Rolls Royce of relaxing treatments includes Himalayan hot stone back massage, crystal healing therapy, facial cleansing, pressure point face and head massage, after which you can have access to a private hot tub.

If I thought I was going to take a spa break with some great food I was going to have another surprise. Pearse Farrell, the owner, has assembled a very large collection of art, and it is worth taking the time to take a comprehensive tour and appreciate the work of Martin Gale, Charles Tyrrell and John Devlin, not to name a few. 8.5 / 10

The rooms

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One of the bright rooms of the Ice House Hotel & Spa


One of the bright rooms of the Ice House Hotel & Spa

One of the bright rooms of the Ice House Hotel & Spa

When I’m designing my next home, I want floor-to-ceiling windows. Our bright west-facing rooms were a game-changer on that stress-free break. The rooms were nicely decorated with colors rather than the usual greige that you come across so often.

The fluffy bathrobes were in pristine condition and the bathroom, with both a shower and a claw-foot tub, was stocked with Voya products, but these single-use items really need to be addressed across the hospitality industry .

Cell phone reception in these areas can be spotty, as I discovered, but when the WiFi fell in our room, the front desk staff quickly came to our aid.

In addition, the local landscape is far too beautiful to be sidelined by digital distractions. Standing on our wooden deck we had a bird’s eye view of the iconic local landmark, the concrete ship SS Crete Boom, and across the river, the Belleek Wood skyline turned out to be mesmerizing.

Best of all, the Mayo night sky gave us the shooting star show on the second night. 8.5 / 10

Food drink

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A lounge at The Ice House


A lounge at The Ice House

A lounge at The Ice House

“The good dish with passion” is the philosophy of the restaurant 54 ° 9 °, where the chef Anthony Holland really takes care of creating interesting menus. I was looking forward to the surprise of the amuse bouche, loved the sweet scallops and the evening fish dishes were priced at € 32, while the starters were on average € 11 and the desserts at 5 €.

Vegan and vegetarian diners are well catered for here, especially with the Moroccan-style tagine and coconut-lentil dahl. The Pontellón Albariño Rías Baixas was so good that we ordered it two nights in a row. 8/10

Insider tip

Get home via Foxford Woolen Mills (10 miles) which has a fabulous cafe and great bedding section, where they offer a 10% discount to Ice House customers.

Local 101

Postman for an invigorating walk on Enniscrone beach 15 km away.

Rates

A two-night “Wellness on the Moy” break with dinner, a signature 75-minute treatment and full use of the thermal suite costs from € 760 for two. Bairbre was the host of the hotel. icehousehotel.ie

The bottom line

We were booked in a luxury package, but prices to stay at the Ice House start from € 150 B&B per night in low season and € 220 B&B per night in high season, so it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune to stay. The only thing I could fault about the whole place was the rather odd red plastic plants on the spa walkway leading to our rooms. They have just become strange in a place so filled with appreciation of nature.


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