A welcoming resort surrounded by mountains and a lake (Lough Eske). Large, luxurious bedrooms. Irish hospitality. Seriously delicious food. Ah yes, you have arrived at the family owned and managed lakeside beauty, Harvey’s Point Hotel & Restaurant, in Donegal, Ireland. And trust me, you won’t want to leave.
It’s easy to fall in love with Ireland with its vast areas of unspoiled wilderness, romantic ruins, rugged mountain and oceanfront landscapes. And yeah even the weather.
My husband and I, along with another couple, were in the midst of our 9-day private chauffeur-driven CIE Tours. This was our fourth summer day in this beautiful country, with our chauffeur driving us north from Belfast exploring the popular scenic coast road, the Giant’s Causeway.
Then we traveled southwest through Ballybofey to reach our overnight destination of Donegal. We had already stayed at two city hotels (Dublin and Belfast). This would be our first venture into the Irish countryside with a two-night stay at Harvey’s Point Hotel, in Donegal County, Ireland.
Arrival to Harvey’s Point Hotel
Just. Wow. A turn off the main road, winding down forest-edged country roads and then there’s a brief clearing, and there it is — Harvey’s Point Hotel.
Located a two-hour drive from Belfast (although we took our time enjoy sites along the way), the hotel is surrounded by the waters of the Lough Eske, covering 900 acres. Rising above the mirror-like lake are the Bluestack Mountains. We drove toward the hotel passing the lake into a gated entrance.
The hotel resembled a sprawling manor with inviting green spaces and large windows. We rolled into the entryway, directly in front of the paved roundabout entrance. The bell staff greeted us immediately, assisting our driver with the luggage.
After our 8-hour road Ireland trip, we were more than ready to unpack for a couple of days and relax. This looked like the perfect setting.
The reception desk is a welcoming cubbyhole just steps from the entrance, and the reception staff were at the ready. Both of our rooms were in the same wing and next to each other, so the bell staff escorted us together.
It’s an interesting walk as it seems like “cottages” are strung together, with long carpeted interconnected hallways and walkways lined with historic photos, new photos, and artwork. Large windows are at almost every turn in the halls, with many supersized chandeliers adding nice finishing touches.At first, the hotel seems a bit disconnected, but after a few hours exploring the halls, the set-up actually makes sense, allowing for private wings and quiet spots throughout the hotel.
At first, the hotel seems a bit disconnected, but after a few hours exploring the halls, the set-up actually makes sense, allowing for private wings and quiet spots throughout the hotel.
Since there is meeting space in this hotel, the cozy nooks and corners invite guests to stop and chat with each other. Yet it doesn’t deter from the leisure guests in the halls, as we spotted many couples, holding hands, as well as a handful of families, walking those same halls.
Accommodations at Harvey’s Point
Choose from 64-rooms on three floors at Harvey’s Point, all upscale, elegant and all-suite. We stopped at our room first – and another big wow. Spacious does not begin to describe it at 806 square feet. Our Executive Suite was more like an apartment, with a modern yet historic bent to the decor, carpets, drapes, dark wood panel.
Large closets line the side of the wide hallway– not your typical European closet with I-hope-to-find-a-spot-to-hang-your-clothes! Oh no, large, plenty of room for both hubby and I to shake out our big suitcases from of our two-week vacation. And there’s also a coat tree!
Just to the right is the double bathroom, And it didn’t take me but a second to notice the huge soaking bathtub with double vanity, separate make-up station, large shower and separate washroom and bidet.
The hallway opens up to wider to reveal a paneled “kitchenette” with tea, coffee, Mini-refrigerator, and complimentary water.
Curtains framed a paneled arched doorway, which led into the again spacious bedroom. Our executive suite room included two king size double beds, a TV, full mini bar, and a table inset into the window with a view of the gardens.
We discovered later a delivery of freshly made cookies, fresh fruit, and milk. Complimentary newspaper was delivered in the morning. And WiFi was complimentary and the signal was strong.
Dining at Harvey’s Point
The hotel is located just 10 minutes drive from Donegal, so dining options are a short drive away. However, other than on-site, there are no bars or restaurants within walking distance. But once you settle in for the night, you’ll find it’s not easy to pull yourself away from the amazing shorefront dining option at Harvey’s.
But once you settle in for the night, you’ll find it’s not easy to pull yourself away from the amazing shorefront dining option at Harvey’s. From elegant dining in the restaurant to relaxed dining at the bar to the included breakfast in the morning (and we sampled all three!), forget about preconceived notions of Irish cuisine. This is fine dining. Whether you choose from a set menu or a tasting menu, you’ll not be disappointed.
On Saturday evenings, join the hospitality team for a complimentary glass of bubbles or wine in the Reading Room. But don’t be surprised if the owner Deirdre stops by your table or your corner of the bar (as she did with us) and introduce herself, and sincerely ask how is your stay!
On our first night, we opted for a relaxed dinner at the bar — mushroom risotto and fish & chips paired with excellent choices of wine and Irish whiskey. The breakfast buffet filled the dining room, with plenty of options, and the last night we dined in the restaurant for an equally impressive meal — and even more impressive view of the sunset on the lake. Afternoon Tea by the Lake is also an option — but unfortunately, we ran out of time.
Things to do at Harvey’s Point
This Ireland hotel may be a bit secluded, but it offers plenty of things to do on the property. From hikes to golf to fishing, enjoy its surrounding nature. Feed the wildlife by joining the daily 8.m. feed and hear stories from Renate and her beloved “Harvey” the goose, may he rest in peace. Other activities include cookery demonstrations, live entertainment in Harvey’s Bar, wine tasting, fashion shows, and more.
Brief History of Harvey’s Point
Its beginnings show in the sprawling cottage-like setting. Harvey’s Point was originally an old cottage hidden in the hills of Donegal. In the early 80s, Jody Gysling while on holiday from Switzerland discovered this cottage and ultimately purchased it from two local Harvey bachelor brothers. Jody opened a small guest-house and restaurant here in 1989, calling it Harvey’s Point. His brother Marc joined him, and a local girl Deirdre joined the team for a summer job. Then love blossomed between Jody and Deirdre, and several expansions later, the family still owns and manages the property.
With little touches, like flowers, friendly smiles, and good old-fashioned Irish hospitality and chit-chat, you can feel the pride and love of this property.
What began as an old cottage hidden in the hills of Donegal has now become a local favorite. And once you discover this enchanting retreat, you’ll return to Ireland and Harvey’s Point Hotel to experience it again and again.
Photo credits: Harvey’s Point Hotel and Diana Rowe.