Arklow Bay Leisure & Spa Hotel
The Arklow Bay Hotel markets itself as a hotel ideal for family breaks. It is located on the outskirts of the medium size town of Arklow in Co. Wicklow. A fishing town, Arklow is located on the coast midway between Dublin and Wexford so a very easy drive of approximately one hour from the city of Dublin. The quality of Irish family hotels varies greatly. I have stayed in some excellent ones, such as the country’s most famous one, Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare. I have also stayed in some rather mediocre ones which are definitely not on my repeat list. This was my first visit to the Arklow Bay Hotel.
Hotel websites naturally show their hotel in its best light but are not always a true reflection of the experience matching the expectation. I have got to the stage where I don’t trust hotels which include close up arty photos of pillows, the single flower or book on a table. I feel that they are hiding something! The website for the Arklow Bay Hotel was reasonably accurate and more honest. I did have to telephone the hotel with my booking as the online system didn’t allow for my specific requirement of a larger family room that would take 3 children and one adult. The booking request was dealt with extremely efficiently and I felt that this was a good sign. My group consisted of myself (the adult) plus a 12 year old, 10 year old and 6 year old, i.e. ‘Grandma on Tour‘.
We had to shorten our en route pit stop at Wicklow town as regretfully I got it slightly wrong with our visit to Wicklow Gaol. Don’t get me wrong. This is an excellent museum but the two youngest in my party got spooked when a mannequin started talking to us and invited us into his cell! It might have been Captain Billy Byrne from the 1798 Rebellion. It was one of those immersive interactive attractions and also quite dark and a little scary. We therefore made it a whistle stop tour and bailed out. After all I was sharing a room and didn’t want to be awake half the night with the children having nightmares.
Arrival: We arrived slightly before the 3pm check in time, but I was greeted by a smiling Receptionist who told me that our room was ready.
We were pleased when we entered the bedroom as it was an exceptionally large room with a large double bed and two proper single beds. In other words there wasn’t going to be an argument about who was going to have to sleep on a ‘camp bed’. Bed linen was good quality and there were plenty of towels. I do, however, wish that hotels would go back to having face cloths, particularly when the hotel is listed as being 4 star.
The only downside to the room was that not only was there no view but the window overlooked a 3 ft. wide passage adjacent to a high boundary wall. This made the room very claustrophobic. The boundary wall was painted with a wood scene. Looking at the photograph of the room it does look like it was photoshopped so as to show outside light! A tip for the hotel: A more clever mural would have been a wood scene with a horizon in the background.
Activities: Our first swim was booked for late afternoon and was a great success. The changing rooms and showers were clean and the pool was not at all crowded as their booking system clearly worked a treat. We repeated this again the following morning after breakfast and again this was a big success with the younger folk.
Meals: We dined in the Lounge and the meal was considered good by everybody. The breakfast buffet the next morning was well presented and included everything that one would expect. However, I do have personal issue with the industrial tasting orange juice that is mostly served in Irish hotels. We really need to improve here as we fall well below international standards in this regard. I requested a mint tea, which the hotel didn’t have. However, the exceptionally well trained and pleasant Martina brought a lemon and elderflower tea with her recommendation. I really liked this kind of initiative which is a rarity in hotels. The Arklow Bay Hotel is fortunate indeed to have such excellent staff.
There are excellent nature walks all around the area and hats off to Wicklow County Council who have some very good activity facilities, such as playing fields, a skateboard area plus those outdoor exercise machines that have become so popular. Will I return? Yes, with a condition. I need to have a room with a view.