Late August, I stopped by New York’s Irish Tourism office at 345 Park Avenue (17th floor—geddit?!) to pick up brochures and just get ramp up my excitement in anticipation of taking my sweetheart to Ireland top of October. The lady running the tourist info room naturally inquired about destinations. When I mentioned Delphi Lodge on the occasion of my sweetie’s birthday, she closed her eyes a moment then gasped, rapturously, “To… die for! She must be very special to you.”
Well! Now we’ve been there and done that and lemme tell you, Delphi Lodge isn’t to die for—it’s to LIVE for! Our one night there was fabulous. It was the high point of our trip and that’s saying a lot as Pax Guest House in Dingle and Ballinalacken Castle Country House (Doolin/Co. Clare) were also dreams come true.
I’d booked our stay eight months in advance. With four weeks to go, we got an email informing us that the Lodge would otherwise be unoccupied and therefore not able to offer the classic “house party” Lodge experience, especially with regard to the traditional (and optional) evening group cocktails and dinner. We considered alternatives but, Lord help us, we just couldn’t stay away (for years I’d been wanting to visit). Delphi, in turn, could not have been more gracious and welcoming. Because we were the ONLY guests that evening (save two Dutch ladies who dropped in at the last moment and were not dining), indeed, their only reserved guests across a three day period, the staff mostly had the days off. Even so, our arrival was met with infectious cheer and enthusiasm by Carol and General Manager Michael Wade who gave us a quick orientation of the house, the estate’s history and its function in Ireland’s last and largest otherwise uninhabited expanse. The chef, Pascal Marinot, stayed on into the evening to serve the two of us a fantastic three-course meal of herb quail and fresh caught black sole plus raspberry cheesecake that was a light, fluffy mousse. Brilliant. BTW, to my practiced eye, the substantial wine list is, compared to American restaurant “highway robbery” mark-ups, an absolute bargain. Case in point: Our excellent Sancerre was €35.
The next day, Aga served us a delicious breakfast and Michael—already up and at ‘em—encouraged us to take our time with departure. We strolled the nearby grounds, meeting Lawrence, the salmon hatchery manager who shared his time and knowledge with us. We toured the house and other rooms and were also handed the keys to the cottages, allowing us a self-tour of the extensive self-catering accommodations. We couldn’t tear ourselves away until 2 pm, en route Westport via a gorgeous drive up the Doo Lough Valley that afforded us a storybook experience: an authentic “Irish traffic jam” (if you don’t know what that is, I won’t spoil it for you).
Tips: Read the welcome orientation booklet; it’s as need-to-know informative as it is funny. Don’t be put off by firmness of the bed—we slept very well. Highly recommend turning off your phone and leaving it in your room; there’s no TV, no hairdryer, no in-room telephone, no room service, the wi-fi is kinda spotty and the location is serene, quiet and remote. It may therefore be a challenge to turn down the proverbial radio in your head and unplug from the rest of the world but I encourage you to do so.
Delphi Lodge, the staff, the land, the magic, has a gravitational pull that will encourage and influence our next visit to Ireland.
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- Also Known As:
- Delphi Hotel Leenane