Positioned in the heart of thriving Bundoran’s Main Street, the three-star Grand Central Hotel offers the best of both worlds with its proximity to blue-flag Bundoran Beach.
Stepping out of the car into the welcoming fresh, briny sea breeze into a carpark with stunning views across the bay, the sound of families delighting in the nearby attractions of the promenade instantly reflected the relaxed, sunny atmosphere the most southerly town in Donegal is so renowned for when my husband and I relished the rare opportunity for a night away in Bundoran’s three-star Grand Central Hotel last weekend.
Refresh and unwind
Even the sun was celebrating the official start of summer as it came bursting across the turquoise sky in a miraculous show of well-timed solidarity with the end of the school calendar year.
Ideal for a short break in the North West of the Republic of Ireland, visitors will marvel at the nearby seaside attractions so conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from the Grand Central Hotel, which is also located within easy walking distance to the many bars and restaurants right outside its own front door on Bundoran’s Main Street.
Having checked in with friendly reception staff, we were pleasantly surprised to find our spacious room was overlooking the beautiful picturesque Donegal Bay, complete with views of luscious tumbling countryside and crashing blue waves. Spurred on from the scenic view, we headed straight to Bundoran Beach promenade, located right behind the hotel with a flat surface offering great accessibility. Several nearby walks can be enjoyed including Rougey Cliff Walk, which from our starting point offered glorious views of the Atlantic and surrounding Donegal Bay. Particularly popular amongst dog-walkers, this revitalising walk with cooling Atlantic sea breeze was particularly welcome post-journey from Northern Ireland and offered us an unbeatable opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fresh outdoors.
Meanwhile, the sights of relaxed holiday-makers paddling in the waves and the shrieks of distant adrenaline-junkies as they dove off the surrounding pier into the icy cool water below was enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, judging by the terrific waves, Bundoran is a world-renowned surfing area and was previously listed by National Geographic magazine as one of the World’s Top 20 Surf Towns.
We enjoyed mouth-watering Carte D’or ice cream from a nearby cafe as we took in our beautiful new surroundings before cutting across to the front of the hotel to admire the Grand Central’s proximity to the fantastic array of nearby atmospheric bars where locals and tourists alike were unwinding together on a busy Saturday summer’s evening.
Wild Atlantic Bar
Having worked up hearty appetites, the welcoming atmosphere of the thriving Wild Atlantic Bar & Restaurant certainly did not disappoint. The buzzing bar was pleasantly packed in a promising sign of popularity, and just as we pondered coming back to try later for a free table, Northern Ireland comradery did not fail to disappoint as two friendly fellow hotel holiday-makers from Belfast quickly offered up their seats by the unique, atmospheric stone fireplace, to allow us to order dinner in the restaurant as they finished up their drinks at the bar.
A wonderfully traditional Bundoran pub with natural wood furniture and stone floors, a list of local suppliers greeted us as we opened our menus packed full of mouth-watering temptations consisting of traditional local flavours, alongside the promise all meat and poultry were of local origin and from fully traceable sources.
My husband opted for Baked Bruschetta Bites to start with warm garlic bread, toasted with sundried tomato and fresh basil pesto and all topped with a generous portion of melted brie - which indeed was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. It was near-impossible to choose from the menu of established family-favourite dishes, so in the end we opted to split the tempting New York Smokey Joe beef burger (all burgers are available as chicken or beef). The delectable dish came complete with streaky bacon and melted Jack Cheese, served with beautifully zesty Ballymaloe Relish, coleslaw and delicately crunchy chips. We combined this with delicious golden battered Wild Atlantic Fish & Chips - complete with vibrant mushy peas, zesty house salad garnish, flavoursome caper mayo and chunky chips.
For dessert, the warming Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumble was served complete with flowing custard, perfectly contrasting cool ice-cream plus fresh cream which hit all the right taste-buds and managed to instill nostalgic memories of homemade desserts from childhood years goneby.
Delivering the definition of ‘hearty bar food’ to a ‘T’, this dining experience as a whole was without doubt one of the highlights of our trip, particularly when combined with speedy, warm service and the wonderful atmosphere of a quintessential Republic of Ireland pub one just can’t seem to find elsewhere.
Up bright and early to enjoy the morning, taking in the surrounding sights of the hotel once more, we later relished in our Full Irish Breakfast. Opting straight for the hot food, we devoured the succulent selection on offer of fried eggs, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, mouth-watering bacon, and beans with white pudding. Having explained I was pregnant, hospitable breakfast staff were quick to offer a hot chocolate as an alternative to the usual tea or coffee in yet a further show of the Grand Central Hotel’s efficient service.
Despite being pregnant, I was able to appreciate how well the Grand Central Hotel caters for a sociable night away for groups of friends and we enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere of the Main Street. Yet its location and family-friendly atmosphere equally lends itself to couples seeking a night away in a picturesque setting, the luxury of the location a particular highlight.
Stacks of activities
Its proximity to the surrounding blue-flag Bundoran Beach with nearby walks and activities will appeal to families and nature-lovers alike, particularly with its seemingly limitless list of activities for children.
For days when the sun may not be shining, Water World, an indoor aqua adventure playground boasts the ‘fastest slide in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland,’ whilst Bundoran Cinema is also close-by. Bundoran Glowbowl & Macks Amusements, the largest family entertainment centre in the North West of the Republic, which caters for all the family with eight lanes of Tenpin Bowling and a fantastic Amusements Complex, is also sure to keep youngsters entertained.
Located just a stone’s throw away from the hotel on the Bundoran Seafront and open weekends, Bank Holidays and every day in July and August, Bundoran Adventure Park offers a great day out for all the family, with a huge selection of rides and attractions, including Adventure Golf, Bumper Cars, Go Karts and more.
Overall, the beauty of Grand Central Hotel Bundoran was in its ideal location next to both the beach and the bars, meaning there is plenty to keep everyone entertained.
It boasts terrific service and delicious food in an atmospheric bar and restaurant. An ideal spot for a purse-friendly break offering the best of both worlds.
Find out more
The 63-bedroom, three-star Grand Central Hotel is situated right in the heart of Bundoran town centre, just two minutes walk from the blue-flag beach and is located at Main Street, Bundoran, Co Donegal.
Whether enjoying a short break with friends, spending time with the family, or visiting for a surf break, the Grand Central Hotel Bundoran is the ideal destination for a short break in the North West of the Republic of Ireland.
Enjoy free Wi-Fi internet access in the bar and lobby. Savour traditional local flavours in Wild Atlantic Bar & Restaurant or simply relax, unwind and enjoy the craic with the locals.
Visit: www.grandcentralbundoran.com to find out more and to book or contact: +353 (0) 71 984 2722.