It’s just a one-hour drive from Cork city to Henry’s Boutique Destination— one of the best kept secrets on The Wild Atlantic Way.
But not for much longer, as, although only in it’s fourth season, it has already won three awards on Tripadvisor: People’s Choice 2014 and Certificates of Excellence in 2013 and 2014.
Situated at the end of a private road, Henry's is set in one of the most dramatic locations I’ve ever seen — nestled on the edge of a secluded cliff headland in historic Castlefreke in West Cork, directly overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Yet if feels completely safe and protected.
It is the latest venture for the Henry family, who are an established brand in the fitness industry in Ireland. During the week, this hidden gem of a guesthouse is run by Marie Henry, whilst her husband and son — health and fitness gurus Pat, and Karl — he of RTE television’s Operation Transformation fame — concentrate on keeping the nation in shape. Pat joins her most weekends, often accompanied by Karl and his brother Cathal, who works in the hospitality industry.
The Henry’s hail from Dublin and found the house accidentally when they were looking for a property in Cork. They spent two years reconstructing and adding to the existing dwelling and the result is two separate but linked houses which they planned to use for family and friends. Then someone suggested that they try taking guests in the ‘new’ wing, and, Henry's was born. This new section houses three double bedrooms, all of which are individually themed and have stunning views of the sea, and one smaller single room.
I’m greeted by the very friendly Marie Henry who showed me to the modern, well-appointed and spotlessly clean White Room. A floral sofa and vivid yellow chair inject a splash of colour into this calming space with its large soft bed, Frette bed linens and soft lighting. Despite the perfect broadband internet access, Henry's really is a place to relax and unwind from the stresses of life. There are no televisions in the rooms, just an excellent music system with a selection of CDs along with an eclectic choice of books and plenty of local information. They provide cosy dressing gowns and slippers for guests and the luxurious ensuite bathrooms are equipped with rain forest showerheads, thick fluffy towels, and local Sally Miller natural handmade toiletries. Next door, plush ruby curtains and a scarlet bedspread give the Red Room a sense of enclosure and, next to that again, the pale aqua colour scheme creates a tranquil atmosphere in the twin-bedded Blue Room.
Having just driven the entire Ring of Kerry I soon fall asleep in my oasis of peace, soothed by the distant sound of surf breaking on the shore below and the reassuring flicker of the beacon at Galley Head Lighthouse, which is practically on my doorstep.
All the bedrooms open onto the lawn and the sea. Next morning I wake to birdsong and the breathtaking view of the sun glinting on the deep blue water. After yoga on the deck overlooking the private beach— the perfect spot for some sun salutes — I head to the dining room, which affords yet another panoramic view of the ocean, for one of Marie’s healthy breakfasts. Where possible, the food is locally sourced. Vegetables and eggs come from an organic farm in Rosscarbery; freshly baked bread, marmalades, honeys and jams from the Clonakilty Farmers Market. Over my freshly squeezed juice of avocado, apple, cucumber, ginger, kiwi and spinach, I chat to a Dutch couple and their son. As they tuck into homemade muesli with local yogurts and berries, and organic porridge oats with raisins and honey, they tell me they can’t believe their luck at finding this star-rated experience at such an affordable price. A German couple join us, opting for Marie’s traditional Irish Breakfast with Clonakilty puddings, and agree, adding that they plan to re-book for next year before they depart.
The house is set in eight acres and there are over 2km of unspoilt beaches to walk. You can borrow bikes and explore historic Castlefreke Castle and the surrounding woods, try a Kayaking session with Jim Kennedy or a local surf lesson. Clonakilty is the nearest town, with its award winning restaurants, bars and music sessions. Drive a bit further in either direction and you’re in Kinsale, Inchydoney, Skibereen, Schull, Glengarrif or deeper into the Beara Peninsula.
Or, just stay put in the upstairs living room with its polished wooden floors, striking artworks floor to ceiling windows, breathtaking views and spacious terrace. Look out for the dolphins swimming just outside the house, watch rabbits hopping across the lawn or gaze at the cattle grazing in the nearby fields.
In winter, you can light the candles and the log fire and snuggle up on one of the comfy sofas as the wind rages outside, safe in your cocoon.
Open all year round, the Henry's run a whole series of packages. Their bootcamps for weight loss are hugely popular, as are their ‘do nothing’ weekends. So too the writing, painting, photography and drumming weekends which they regularly organise. The venue is available for corporate hire and small meetings. The basic price is €55 per person sharing per night B&B.
Contact Marie at 086 2699461 / 023 8857386 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved