Hotel review

On the way to Inchydoney? A look at the Island Lodge & Spa

When it comes to being a household name in hospitality, few hotels in Ireland can match Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa.

The four-star coastal retreat has almost become synonymous with a break from West Cork itself (“Guess you’ve heard they’re off to Inchydoney”) with its restaurants, spa and stunning location making it a destination property.

First opened in the 1930s as the Inchydoney Ocean Hotel, the OG Hotel was demolished and rebuilt in 1997 until its current incarnation, fluctuating to meet guest trends from… yoga at sea to artisanal food trucks.

But how is the customer experience shaping up in 2022? I hit the road last month to review one of Cork’s most iconic properties.

First impressions

Located in one of the main coastal sites of the Wild Atlantic Way, Inchydoney Island is the icon of location, location, location.

A brief jaunt beyond the cool capital of Clonakilty, I find myself driving along causeways and coastal back roads linking the hotel to the mainland, all adding to the sense of anticipation.

Inchydoney doesn’t have a grand entrance, however, but rather a winding road that gives way to a nice, sprawling front parking lot that flanks the hotel’s facade.

Those coastal views over Clonakilty Bay are what really grab your attention, and after parking up I’m immediately drawn to the headland to soak them all up.

Behind me, the blocky white facade of the Inchydoney itself doesn’t offer a particularly inspiring first impression, but once inside, the coastal character begins to take hold a little more.

The lobby is an airy, open space with two oversized L-shaped couches and a faux fireplace lounge, while white window shutters give the space an elegant Cape Cod feel.

A neat touch is the glass of Five Farms West Cork cream liqueur offered to me as a welcome drink before the doorman ushers me upstairs to my asshole.

Follow-up discussion

A Junior Suite at Inchydoney Island Lodge

I was staying in one of the hotel’s three junior suites, dream coastal spaces offering a 180° view of the Atlantic.

The bedroom lounge is a contemporary, yet pared-back affair, with a swoon sofa, sleek armchairs, and TV suite, but it’s those cruise ship views from the upper deck that really do the talking.

The bedroom, topped with a cloud-like four-poster bed, has an elegant en-suite bathroom in sandy tones as well as a west-facing balcony with double Adirondack chairs to take in views of the sunset.

Given the space and the abundance of pine wood, I think the room could use a bit more art or soft furnishings to add a bit more soul, but the suite is all in all a very impressive space, inspired by the ocean, while avoiding kitschy coastal design tropes. .

Are you looking to restore yourself? Inchydoney offers self-catering apartments overlooking the beach, with pet-friendly options so you can also bring the madra.

To eat

Inchydoney offers its customers decent dining choices. From their famous Gulfstream restaurant, to the more casual Tides Bistro, to the lough at the lodge and the Silver Surfer food truck, offering waffles and ice cream, parked outside. I dined at Gulfstream, a fine ocean-view restaurant with a New England country club look fused with a warm West Cork familiarity.

Local provenance has become a staple of Irish food menus, but what’s remarkable about Inchydoney is that all ingredients are sourced from Cork.

I opted for the most delicious Bantry Bay Shrimp Salad with Citrus Gemstone Mayonnaise, which was followed by the gluten-free novelty of Tempura Breaded Monkfish served with Mangetout Fries and truffles.

A flourless orange cake with ice cream for dessert crowned a refined, very refined meal at €75 including tax. a glass of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a signature Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail in the hotel’s Residents’ Lounge, a huge space filled with as much rolled-up furniture as a Harvey Norman showroom, albeit with the nature of the happy hour of the kids playing chase, I’m happy to retire my last drink at this awesome suite.

Breakfast the next morning was an impressive feast of fresh pastries, cheeses and cold meats, plus fresh options to order like a catch of the day; my gluten free muesli was served with a sprinkle of raisins and gooseberries – simple touches that set the dish apart.


Beyond its design, which doesn’t float my architectural boat, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is a beautiful property that will appeal to families, with its children’s playroom, to couples, with the first saltwater spa in Ireland and its all-round romantic setting.

Negatives for me included that huge parking lot interrupting the sea view from the rooms and spa and it can give the property a cobbled paradise feel.

Given its size and busyness, some diners may prefer to seek out more boutique options in the area, but with great staff, fine comforts, and truly those views alone, Inchydoney deserves to be on any list. what a short list of stays.


  •; Rates for summer guest rooms from €115pps.

  • Inchydoney is currently offering their The Sea Swimmers Bedroom To Beach package which includes two nights accommodation with handmade chocolates on arrival, a full West Cork breakfast each morning, a Sea Swimmers signature hot cocktail in the lounge , a five-course dinner one evening in the Gulfstream Restaurant, a jar of Ground Wellbeing bath salts to take away and free access to the heated saltwater pool, gym and relaxation areas at from €275, valid from Sunday to Thursday.
  • Tom was a hotel guest for this review.

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