Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Castle Leslie, County Monaghan

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Castle Leslie over Easter thanks to my adventurous and outgoing boyfriend, Philip. So off we went for our overnight stay in what was to be the most relaxing location I've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

All was good until we got into the car and Philip said, "So, how do we get there?" Cue an extended journey through towns and villages we'd never heard of, going back and forth on the same road, and being confused as to whether we had passed over the border yet. We eventually arrived in time for our horse riding session that Philip had eagerly booked and made our way to the stables. On our way, I spotted a huge horse which happened to be Philip's riding partner, and mine wasn't much smaller. Apparently Squire and Percy are pals though, so all was good.

After being given a helmet and some riding boots, up I climbed onto Percy and while waiting for Philip to get onto Squire, Percy was curious as to who was sitting on his back. He eyeballed me sideways for a few minutes and I thought he was sizing me up, which made me slightly nervous that he was going to bolt and make his way through town. He didn't. He was actually very gentle.

We enjoyed an hour long trek through the estate and my nerves were calmed by the lady I had guiding my horse. I think she sensed I would be incapable of controlling such a huge animal if it were to take off. She gave us some interesting information about the castle and its grounds, pointing out the wild garlic along the way. It smelled delicious.

It took me two attempts to get off Percy, although he was calm and I thanked him for his patience during my disaster of a dismount. Both Philip and I really enjoyed the horse trek, and would recommend trying it if you plan on visiting.

After the trek, we went for lunch in the bar just around the corner of the reception, as our room wasn't going to be ready until 3pm. Both the food and the service were fantastic, and even though almost all of the tables were taken, it still managed to maintain the relaxing atmosphere that is prevalent throughout the estate.

As soon as our room was ready we were escorted by the lady from reception, who informed us it had only been renovated two weeks previous to our stay. It was pretty impressive, with a huge bed, a great big sofa, and a bathroom straight out of a glossy interior design magazine. We left off our bags and went to explore some more, ending up at the castle itself. (Our room was located in the lodge, much closer to the entrance of the estate).

We wandered through the many rooms of the castle, and you feel like you could live there. It's so peaceful and each room has its own theme. We ended up outside by the lake, sitting on a step taking in the views. It's easy to forget you are sharing the place with other people because the grounds are so vast and it doesn't feel busy at all, something I really loved.

That evening we returned to the bar where I had the best raspberry mojito I think I have ever tasted. The staff were really helpful too, and not once did we need to stand up to go and order more drinks, as they were extremely attentive and nothing was too much hassle.

We had dinner and dessert and afterwards made our way back to our room. It was literally round the corner from the reception area and the bar, however it wasn't noisy in the slightest and was actually really convenient for getting breakfast the next morning.

Philip and I are children trapped in 20 something year old bodies, so of course we ordered pancakes for breakfast. They came with fresh fruit, raspberry compote and maple syrup and I've been dreaming of them ever since. There was also the choice of any fruit juice you could possibly think of, and lots of cereal, fruit, pastries and yoghurt.

Northern Ireland's most thoughtful boyfriend had also booked us into the estate's spa where we had a choice of treatment, I chose a facial, he chose an Indian Head Massage, much to my surprise as he puts a lot of effort into his hair...

After being robed up, we were taken to separate rooms. I have never visited a spa as I didn't think I would enjoy it, but I was proven wrong. The facial was really relaxing, my skin was unbelievably smooth afterwards, and my fake tan survived the ordeal. Oh, and Philip's hair wasn't too badly out of place following his head massage.

We were given fruit tea and left to our own devices to chill, after which we ventured outside to the hot tub. It's located above the stables so you can look down and see all their cute faces, and get a whiff of horsey hay every so often. I loved the hot tub as it was just us two in it so we were able to really enjoy it. We paid a quick visit to the sauna but I felt like I was being cooked up as a Sunday roast so that didn't last long.

After our relaxing spa experience, it was time to go home. For being only an hour from Belfast (an hour and a half if you get lost like us), it felt like we were really far away from any hustle and bustle. It is such a lovely setting and you don't feel like you're staying in a hotel as such. The staff can't do enough for you, our room was immaculate, and we couldn't fault the food.

If you are planning a night away but aren't sure of where you'd like to go, definitely give Castle Leslie some consideration. I would highly recommend and can't wait to return, although next time we plan to stay in the actual castle as I'm told that is where the ghosts wander...

Also, an extra special thanks to Northern Ireland's best Tinder match for booking, organising and taking me there. You're a catch!


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