Hotel review

Hotel Review: Wineport Lodge offers lakeside luxury but there’s room for improvement

Readers may remember Wineport Lodge as the location of the popular TV cooking show The Restaurant.

This starring role has put the lakeside hotel in Glasson, Co. Westmeath, on the must-visit list of many visitors, including my own. My last visit several years ago was pleasant but did not blow me away, so when I learned that a luxury spa had just opened at the hotel, it struck me as the perfect opportunity to check in again.

Arrival and location

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The exterior of Wineport Lodge, Glasson

The exterior of Wineport Lodge, Glasson

Situated just 3km from Athlone on the shores of beautiful Lough Ree, Wineport’s location must be the envy of many hoteliers. Aside from its scenic lakeside perch, the fact that it’s practically smack dab in the middle of Ireland, and therefore a manageable route from a multitude of locations, is a real draw. For us, that means a journey of just under an hour and 30 minutes on the motorway takes us comfortably from Dublin to the front door.

There, we’re greeted warmly in a reception area that seems quite cramped, and quickly ushered to the bar – a nifty trick, I imagine, to keep the area from getting crowded with people checking in. Just a few minutes later, a member of staff arrives with our key card and shows us to our family room. The hotel suffers somewhat from ‘long hall’ syndrome, as it occupies quite a narrow plot, but the upside is that all 34 rooms overlook Lough Ree and have lovely lake views. 7.5/10

The rooms

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The Champagne Suite at Wineport Lodge


The Champagne Suite at Wineport Lodge

The Champagne Suite at Wineport Lodge

Its wood construction sets Wineport apart from other properties and gives it a “luxury cabin on the lake” vibe. Unfortunately, the interior decor doesn’t reflect this, and while well-equipped and stylishly decorated, rooms lack the charm one would expect from such a unique property.

It would definitely benefit from a cabin detail injection to tie the location and the building together. That said, our generous room has giant beds with pillows so deeply comforting that I make a mental note to ask where they got them. Our spacious bathroom has a rain shower, dual sinks (but no tub) and is stocked with Irish-made Voya toiletries.

The room opens onto a small wooden balcony which we are told is being replaced as part of work in progress – the ripple effect being that on our visit we admired a bit a building site. The works are now all finished, I am told. 7/10

Service and style

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Enjoy a seaweed bath overlooking Lough Ree at the new Cedarwood Spa


Enjoy a seaweed bath overlooking Lough Ree at the new Cedarwood Spa

Enjoy a seaweed bath overlooking Lough Ree at the new Cedarwood Spa

The works are part of a recent upgrade that added a spa and swimming pool to the hotel’s offering. And let’s be honest, what lakeside pad is complete without an outdoor balcony with a seaweed bath to soak in while drinking bubbles and a spectacular view?

The Cedarwood Spa isn’t huge, but it’s the epitome of small and perfectly formed. They added the elevated deck with four soaking tubs and two treatment cabins to the upper level, and below is a relaxation room overlooking an infinity pool which, when completed, will overflow into the lake.

After our seaweed bath, I have a sturdy back massage that smooths out a few knots, then slip into the pool. Seaweed baths cost €55 and spa treatments from €60, but there are also ‘floating’ hot tubs on a pontoon on the lake (€25 pp) if you don’t want to splurge on the full live spa. 8.5/10

food drink

The restaurant has booths that make the most of the lake view. We are seated in the only free place at the end of the long dining room, which cuts us off from other diners by a large and noisy group celebrating a birthday. The staff, however, discreetly handled our request to move and we were quietly reinstalled at a table for two.

The food itself is a mixed bag. Our starters were a little disappointing, my friend’s seafood platter lacking the bounty one associates with this dish. A few breaded calamari, a few pieces of smoked salmon and a handful of small prawns do not make a platter. My chicken liver parfait is also somewhat spoiled by the cold from the fridge.

The main courses are better, with a solid hake dish and a good fillet of beef that won us over. Starters are all priced at €15 and mains range from €20 (for a burger or fish and chips) to €44 (for the beef tenderloin).

Breakfast the next morning leaves nothing to complain about and I have a delicious Egg Benedict. However, like many hotels across the country, the Wineport has not restored the buffet of cereals, fruits, pastries that so many of us look forward to on nights. No doubt Covid has highlighted how expensive and wasteful buffets can be, but I can’t help but mourn their loss! 6/10

The bottom line

Adding a spa area that really delivers could be a game-changer for Wineport. For a girls’ weekend, the open-air sea bathing is sure to up its appeal, but I came away feeling that other areas of the experience need to up their game to match the new spa.

There’s new competition in the area too, with the opening last year of Press Up Group’s funky Glasson Lakehouse (read our review here), which sits just across the lake – a visual reminder that at a At a time when rising prices are making consumers increasingly conscious of getting their money’s worth, even the hospitality stalwarts of this world must keep adding to their offerings.

Insider tips

You want to taste the atmosphere of the lake but without spending the night? Afternoon tea is served daily between 1pm and 3.30pm and costs €30 per person.

If you want to have lunch or a pint outside the hotel, head to the village of Glasson, just 5km up the road. It is home to the award-winning The Villager bar and restaurant.

Rates

B&B in a double room with lake view from €240 for two. Rachel was a guest of Wineport Lodge. wineport.fr


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