World’s Greatest Wedding Venues
Introducing LOUGH ESKE CASTLE
Nearly 20% of British couples now opt to say ‘I do’ outside the Kingdom and as this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon… I decided to pack my bags and hit the road to see what all the fuss was about. And yes, the options are endless if not a little overwhelming, but my quest in uncovering The World’s Greatest Destination Wedding Venues could not have started in a better place. And yes, there is a reason why they call it ‘The Emerald Isle’ – this is one adventure I am never likely to forget…
And like any trip to a foreign land nowadays, it all kicked off with an early morning flight a la Easyjet. All aboard for a skylark both myself and trusty partner in crime Al McLeod proclaimed. We were having a ball already, pole dancing our way to the terminal gates. After all, when you’re not flying you should be dancing right?! In all fairness, I think the double shot latté had kicked in twenty minutes previous and perhaps the other passengers were not quite so enthralled with our early morning exploits as we were, but hey, you’ve got to try your best to entertain the troops right? I am a wedding fairy after all.
Not one to shy away from a spot of spontaneity, we decided to road trip it from Belfast to Donegal. And what a hoot that was. A chance to take in the scenery, explore the sights and take a pit stop at Peggy’s Diner – still a highlight for us and probably our finest find en route to the castle! Turns out I am a MASSIVE fan of the Irish cuisine and it all kicked off with one of Peggy’s breakfasts. And some much needed mapping advice. We were a little lost at this point and only about 30 mins into our mission. Possibly I am more suited to a schedule rather than a free-stylin approach! Anyhoo the pic below was the snap that really got us excited… we were nearly there!
The Wedding Fairy descending on a real life Fairy-tale castle sort of felt like it was meant to be. There was a majestic vibe in the air, although I suspect this was more down to the breathtaking scenery, rather than letting my imagination run wild with me. And who could blame us, the Lough (Irish spelling of Loch) totally blew us away en route! We hadn’t even arrived at the castle yet, made it up the drive in fact, and already it felt like we had arrived somewhere seriously magical… I am rarely lost for words, but the landscape of Lough Eske totally left me speechless.
And yes, we were a little giddy with excitement at this point!
Yay! We’ve landed. From Weston-super-Mare (home of Dismaland just in case you haven’t heard of it before!!) to Donegal via taxi, plane, hire-car and foot… done and dusted in 8 hours! Yes, a mild bout of hysteria may have kicked-in at this juncture. But we made it and my goodness we were glad we had.
Booking-in completed, we headed to our suite where I promptly stripped and slipped into the gorgeous set of slippers and cosy robe that awaited me. Our room was utterly gorgeous and the little basket of fruit, hand-made truffles and delicate fancies that greeted us really was the icing on the cake. The heated floor in the bathroom was a proper treat too! You could not ask for a warmer welcome and for me, this is what really excels a venue from fine to fabulous – beyond the luxuries and natural beauty of a space. There was a sense of pride about the castle from all the team members we met actually and I think that is a really important touch when considering a wedding venue.
Next up it was onto the important stuff – hitting the bar! And a pretty impressive cocktail list it was too! I must say, having never been to Ireland before, the food in general was right up my street. Home-made, wholesome and utterly fabulous. I sampled a Donegal fish chowder earlier in the day next to the Lough, teamed with my first official pint of Guiness in Ireland – a pretty special moment. But I had no idea what was to come later in the eve… my first Irish lamb stew at the castle was to die for! As you can probably tell from said picture, the party started early and finished late for us. A proper Irish knees up. Just as it should be.
Good morning! Yes the morning after the night before can often be a rather delicate affair, but on this occasion, all that was needed was a hearty Irish breakfast and a beautiful welcome courtesy of the restaurant team. We were totally set up for the days activities and put it this way, there is no fear of being under-fed at this particular hotel! The breakfast buffet was hands down the best I have ever seen. More of an event than a breakfast. You name it they had it. The freshly smoked salmon was simply divine. Breakfast done, I promptly headed back to said boudoir to slip back into the robe ready for my morning spa treatment. And again, the spa itself really was a treat. I have sampled many and am quite often left a little disappointed by the treatments in hotel spas, but on this occasion, my deep tissue massage really hit the spot. Actually it was up there as one of the best treatments I have ever had. And yes, a little dip in this beauty below was also very welcome to round off proceedings.
Post lunch we hit the road again to explore the area and boy I am glad we did. The coastline is World famous and for good reason too. The stunning scenery draws tourists from all over and makes for a pretty sensational set of picture perfect postcards. I had a bit of a moment below and as you can see… I am certainly not over emphasising the point, which for me, is pretty unusual.
Back at Lough Eske Castle post road trip, it was time for us to dress for dinner, which for me always proves to be a highlight when away. I just love popping on my finest for a gourmet treat and that it really was. The relaxed approach to dinner was also a winner for me too. Quite often, fine dining can be a little stiff, but the ambience at Lough Eske Castle hits a really lovely balance between the two and for me, that really ticks all the boxes and is quite hard to find actually.
In all honesty, we didn’t want to leave the next morning! I was last seen grabbing onto the reception desk for dear life, before finally being evicted from the property by security. I am of course joking, but parting with my comfy robe and heated bathroom flooring was an emotional moment. But luckily our adventures didn’t just end there, we took the coastal route back to Belfast airport, catching the famous Giants Causeway before finally boarding our Easyjet for the flight home. Yes it was a whirlwind tour, but one I will truly treasure. And as for Lough Eske Castle, well, if you are looking for a 5 star service without a 5 star attitude, this is most definitely the destination wedding venue for you.
Built in the 17th Century and steeped in Gaelic history, Lough Eske Castle is licensed to hold civil marriage ceremonies and operates a one wedding per day policy which I love. Nobody would want to share such a space on their special day! The venue can cater for up to 280 guests, with food prepared by Donegal’s award-winning and Michelin trained chef, Philipp Henkes. There are a range of packages you can choose from, or tailor make your own. You can even do a castle take-over and exclusively hire the entire venue for your celebration… including the spa! For more on weddings at Lough Eske Castle just click here to visit the relevant pages on their website. Trust me, you will NOT be disappointed.
5 star service without the 5 star attitude GUARANTEED