Gazing out into the grounds with the trees providing shade, we realised very quickly that we could get used to lounging in the comfort of Rathmullan House.

Located in Co. Donegal, the country house on the shores of Lough Swilly was to be our last port of call before we arrived at Malin Head, the end of our Wild Atlantic Way journey.

The original house was constructed in typical Georgian-style and was built in the 1760s as part of the Knox family estates. In the 1800s it became the country residence of the Batt family, linen brokers and founders of Northern and Northern Irish Bank. They resided in Rathmullan until the 1940s. After the war, the Holiday Fellowship used the house as a centre for walking holidays until the train service to Buncrana ceased.

After the war, the Holiday Fellowship used the house as a centre for walking holidays until the train service to Buncrana ceased.

Bob and Robin Wheeler bought the house in 1962. After extensive work transforming the dormitories back into the original bedrooms, they opened the house as a 22 bedroom hotel.


After relaxing with our mint tea and gazing out into the grounds, we were brought to our twin room on the ground floor which was not only spacious and homely but also had underfloor heating. We especially adored the half-moon glass doors onto the patio.

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Everything in Rathmullan House fitted in with the overall country-house look, from the seats to lounge in to the curtains and lighting.


Mom is a green-thumbs extraordinaire and it was quite a joy to be able to explore Rathmullan’s walled garden that’s tucked away by the carpark (I was also quite pleased to see a resident cat hanging out in the grounds!) With a great selection of vegetables, fruits and herbs, it’s well maintained and in truth, seems to be quite a peaceful spot to work in.

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After exploring the surrounding area and a drive to the beautiful lighthouse at Fanad, we drove back to Rathmullan in good spirits with a pleasant hunger building.

Surprisingly, even though it’s a country house per se, I was delighted to discover that there was a swimming pool in the building and hopped in before dinner. I had the run of the pool all to myself and spent a good half an hour bobbing up and down!


Onto dinner, and when we headed into the dining room, we immediately fell in love with the décor.

The tables in the dining room were not only different shapes and sizes but also not covered in cloth. We could see the craftsmanship in the wood and the dining room didn’t look generic like so many other hotels that covered their tables in white cloth.

There was also an installation in the ceiling to replicate stars which added to the overall atmosphere of the room. You could tell that this would make a beautiful wedding location.

Sitting down by the window, we settled down for an evening of food:

Chargrilled Fermanagh quail with beetroot and apple salsa, braised puy lentils, confit carrot and roasting juice.

Chargrilled Fermanagh quail with beetroot and apple salsa, braised puy lentils, confit carrot and roasting juice.

 

Burtonport crab with beetroot cured salmon, garden baby gem, pickled cucumber, caperberries, horseradish, creme fraiche.

Burtonport crab with beetroot cured salmon, garden baby gem, pickled cucumber, caperberries, horseradish, creme fraiche.

 

Roast rump of Pat Patton's Rathmullan lamb with rosemary mash, pea and mint purée, confit carrot, rocket pesto and lamb jus.

Roast rump of Pat Patton’s Rathmullan lamb with rosemary mash, pea and mint purée, confit carrot, rocket pesto and lamb jus.

 

Pan-seared fillet of Greencastle landed turbot, spinach purée, potato croquettes, garden beetroot, sauce vierge.

Pan-seared fillet of Greencastle landed turbot, spinach purée, potato croquettes, garden beetroot, sauce vierge.

 

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Side-dish of cauliflower cheese.

 

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White chocolate panna cotta with rum and raisin ice cream.

 

Irish cheese plate with homemade chutney and crackers, cheese included Ardrahan, Cooleeney, Cashel Blue and Mossfield Cheddar. I loved how they described each cheese in the menu.

Irish cheese plate with homemade chutney and crackers, cheese included Ardrahan, Cooleeney, Cashel Blue and Mossfield Cheddar. I loved how they described each cheese in the menu.

Indeed, it was with happily full tummies that we drifted off in our rooms, with not a sound to be heard in the corridors.


In the morning we headed down to breakfast in the dining room. As well as a hot breakfast, there was also a grand selection of buffet-style food laden out on white cloth.

I loved the way I was able to slice up my own ham and choose a variety of bread but it would have been nice to have signs in front of them so that I knew what I was picking. For example, the natural yoghurt was right next to the Carrageen pudding (I managed to figure it out by looking at its texture). This is a minor thing in what was overall a fantastic experience, plus the food tasted great.

One brilliant thing to point out though which so many places don’t do: we ordered our food and then got up to enjoy the cold buffet and as we tucked into our food one of the waiting staff came over and asked us would we like them to wait for a bit before they served us our breakfasts. FINALLY! Somewhere that takes this into account. We were able to enjoy both cold and hot food separately without being served a mountain of food at the same time.


The nitty gritty:

The fact that we could just walk down to the beach was fabulous. Mom and I both love the sea and to have it right at the doorstep to Rathmullan House was a huge plus in our books (Though admittedly the water was freezing in Lough Swilly at this time of year!)

Dipping my toes into #LoughSwilly – probably one of the fastest photos that I took because it's so freezing! 😂

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Décor: Old-school lush. Every single bit of furniture has its place and even though not all of it is matching, it sits so well in the house. It feels like all the wall hangings, plates and even chairs have history behind them. Some people may not like the old-fashioned look however, we thought it all added great character.

Facilities: Dining room, bar, The Tap Room, plenty of lounging space and as mentioned, surprisingly a swimming pool. The beach is also just a five-minute walk away and there’s access to the walled garden. They boast plenty of outside space which I’d imagine is perfect during the summer months. They also have dog-friendly rooms (they can even provide company for the dogs with their own Jack Russell, Brushie).

Room: Generous amount of space, with very comfortable twin beds and headrests, and the added bonus of underfloor heating. Bedside tables with lamps (and plugs), and lounging space facing out into the patio. Huge glass doors but they kept out the noise. Impressive bathroom with beautiful bathtub and separate stand-up shower area with a curtain for privacy.

Staff: Incredibly pleasant, charming and go out of their way to make you feel right at home. To be honest, the staff make the House. Particular positive mention to the waiting staff who served us in the dining room. Many thanks to Lorna in reception who looked after us also and Patrick who was in contact with us too!

Food: Top-notch, a great variety and well presented on a plate. We loved how the menu mentioned where they were sourcing the food from too. Bonus points because none of the waitresses hovered around us throughout the meal. We all felt like equals.

We would love to come back to Rathmullan House again, it truly is a 4* establishment and lives up to the rating. It’s one of those hotels that pretends to be very chilled but actually is a well-oiled machine that’s run with great professionalism. As expected, it is quite expensive to stay there but what we found is that we were really able to unwind and completely relax.

It’s worth splashing out for that feeling of real comfort.

Rathmullan House currently has a special offer on from €240 per person sharing. Book a 2 night midweek stay including dinner this November and receive a complimentary upgrade to a superior bedroom. Package Includes: 2 Nights Dinner, Bed and Breakfast with a complimentary room upgrade. More details here

Our stay and dinner at Rathmullan House were complimentary with thanks to Ireland’s Blue Book but no money exchanged hands. As usual, our reviews are completely honest.