To be completely honest, I’ve never really done a staycation before. Don’t be wrong, I’m not adverse to the odd night in a luxury hotel. But I’ve never driven just 45 minutes from home for the sole person of a change of scenery for the night.
That was, until last weekend, and now I’m completely sold on the idea.
The Dufferin Coaching Inn
Not long ago himself and I were invited to spend the night at the Dufferin Coaching Inn in Killyleagh, hardly a vast distance from Belfast. We weren’t that excited about it, didn’t think it would be up to much. Oh, how we were wrong.
In case you don’t know much about Killyleagh, it’s a sleeply Georgian town on the shores of Strangford Lough (more than that later).
Duffering Coaching Inn is slap bang in the middle of the High Street – a castle at one end and the lough at the other. It’s an old bank building, complete with big windows and massive front door.
We were welcomed by owner Leontine who knows exactly what she’s at after running the place for the last 12 years and she has organised the place beautifully. As well as the sunny breakfast room and a large sitting room with a large woodburner, there’s a coffee nook with Nespresso machine and a fridgeful of bottled water.
We had room A at the front of the building. Complete with four-poster bed, whirlpool bath, electric blanket on the bed and wooden shutters on the windows for the light sleepers.
They say the devil is the detail and Leontine has got it down pat. The little touches really make it in this gorgeous setting. Cosmetic pads in the bathroom, tissues and water in the bedroom. You can’t turn around in the building without coming across a guide to the local area; where to eat, walk, shop, drink, listen to live music and more. Leontine herself is the perfect host, everything is well laid out and explained. A couple even checked in after us and she wasted no time in asking did they need a dinner reservation or taxi to whenever they were going. She’s always on hand if you need her, but doesn’t hover so you can have your privacy and relax
We started our visit by lounging in front of the woodburner in the sitting room. It took us about 30 minutes before we started discussing if we should buy the house next door. Property notwithstanding, the atmosphere was so warm, friendly and relaxing we could, and did, stay there for hours.
The places to go in Killyleagh are a stone’s throw from the Inn. Less even as the Dufferin Arms, famous for its craic and live music, is right next door. We dined on the massive portions and fresh fare at The Smuggler’s Table, just a short walk down the road.
After a good night’s sleep in a large bed that didn’t creak once (I hate a creaky bed), we went down for breakfast. Leontine prides herself on her breakfast – and so she should. If it isn’t homemade like the bread, then it’s locally sourced like the meat, eggs, butter, milk and honey. If you have an early start you can pre-order your breakfast so it’s ready and waiting for you, but we found the service very speedy.
We finished our visit with a stroll around the Lough, which was stunning on such a clear autumn day.
We found our visit surprisingly restful. All we had to do was pack a small suitcase – no airport check-in, no long car journeys, not stressful travel plans of any kind. All it was was a night to get away from it all, and it was absolutely worth it.
You don’t need to have a quiet relaxing stay like weekend. If you have a family or enjoy the great outdoors there’s plenty for you do in the local area – and plenty of information about it on the Dufferin Coaching Inn’s website