Located 45 minutes from the scenic Causeway Coastal route, Northern Ireland airports, ferry terminals and the Sperrin mountains, Ardtara Country House is an ideal location for a romantic vacation or girlfriend getaway. The historic country house hotel & restaurant in County Londonderry, in the heart of Mid Ulster in Northern Ireland, is like a fairy tale come to life. The historic house is set on 10 wooded acres and reminded me of a stay at a private mansion. In fact, this 19th century house was originally built as a family home by Harry Jackson Clark during the Queen Victoria era. Be sure to look up to the cheeky cherubs gracing the interior walls of the front entrance!
The staff was attentive without being over-bearing. General Manager Sean McEvoy was particularly gracious in sharing some Game of Thrones “behind-the-scenes” stories with us as I peppered him with questions about filming locations. The hotel will even provide you with a Game of Thrones filming site map of famous landmarks such as the Dark Hedges or Ballintoy Harbor in County Antrim. If that’s not enough, you may also use Ardtara Country House as your home base for exploring the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Bridge or Old Bushmills Distillery. There is plenty to explore in this area, in addition to Guildhall and the Peace Bridge in Derry, County Londonderry.
“We booked Ardtara for a girfriend reunion. From the very start our experience was amazing. Scott welcomed us in the car park and brought our bags to our rooms. The rooms are decorated beautifully in keeping with the period features of a country house. We had dinner at 8:00 p.m. and every course from the homemade breads to the scallops were cooked to perfection. The service from Sean and his team was warm and attentive. We would definitely recommend Ardtara Country House,” Patricia Fergusen, Londonderry, NI.
At Ardtara House there are 9 bedrooms all with king size or super king sized beds. Each room has been tastefully decorated in keeping with the Victorian era of the house while offering all the modern day luxuries, including a Nespersso coffee maker and tea kettle in-room, as well as homemade cookies. I loved the working fireplace in our huge bedroom. If the walls in this gorgeous blue room could talk, I’m sure that many interesting stories would come to life.
The rooms are decorated beautifully in keeping with the period features of a country house.
Afternoon tea is offered throughout the week priced at £21.95 per person using local ingredients. Depending on the weather, tea is served in the Garden Restaurant or by the fire in the drawing room. We loved the baked scones with fresh jam, sliced sandwiches, mini savories and pastries served with Thompson Family teas.
After exploring the coastal causeway area, be sure to check out the grounds of Ardtara. There are beautiful hidden walks around the millponds of the linen mill site next door; simply ask the staff for some directions and bring sensible footwear! The Seamus Heaney homeplace is only a few miles from here, an interactive experience dedicated to the life of one of Ireland’s finest poets.
All accommodation packages include breakfast. After making your selection from the cold buffet table, they cook your breakfast to order. Choose from a traditional Ulster cooked breakfast including both black and white puddings, or eggs benedict or royale. They also have pain perdu (French toast) on offer or classic Irish smoked salmon with softly scrambled eggs. The Upperlands coffee is roasted less than one mile away and the teas are all supplied by the Thompson family.
Be sure to make a reservation for dinner at Clark Room restaurant. Restaurant Chef Stephen McAteer offers a six course tasting menu for 49.95 Euro (additional fee for wine pairing,) or you may order a la carte off the menu. As always, check the website for current restaurant and hotel room pricing. If you have a chance to drive into Derry, reserve a table at Browns in town, another venture of Browns Bonds Hill Group (no relation to Nancy Brown.) Finally, Chef Patron Ian Orr offers cooking classes if you live locally.
Need to know:
Hotel rates range from £139 to £268; full details can be found at www.ardtara.com
There is free wifi throughout the hotel. Full parking facilities are available at Ardtara at no cost to guests. Pets at not accepted at Ardtara.
Check in: 3:00 p.m.
Check out: 11:30 a.m.
If a guest needs to alter arrival or departure times they we will attempt to accommodate requests.
Insider tip – Be hungry! Ardtara is a culinary find with a strong emphasis on local farming partnerships. Their chef has even developed their own Brown’s Guinness Bread mix for you to bake at home! I travel carry-on only so this bread mix had to be really good for me to bring home three packages in my luggage. Who says you can’t take the brown bread with you? For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown. Follow Ardtara Country House on Instagram, Twitter @ArdtaraHouse and Facebook. Ardtara Country House is a member of Ireland’s Blue Book properties.
If You Go:
Ardtara Country House From USA 011 4428 7964 4490
8 Gorteade Road
Upperlands, County Londonderry
BT46 5SA Northern Ireland
Ardtara Country House Hotel & Restaurant review, video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. As is typical in the industry, I received a complimentary media stay, however, all opinions are my own.