Over the weekend I was lucky enough to stay at Ardtara Country House, thanks to a generous gift voucher from my lovely sister in law. I was very much looking forward to this as I had heard very good reviews about it and since it was named one of the best five places to stay in Northern Ireland by National Geographic Traveler Magazine, my expectations were high. I was not disappointed.
Ardtara is located in Upperlands, a historic linen village just a few miles north of Maghera and approximately forty minutes drive from Belfast. We arrived quite early after a short stop in Moneymore and on arrival we were shown to our room which was just a delight – a spacious, elegant room – tastefully decorated with period furniture and a beautiful working fireplace as you can see from these pictures.
Having quickly unpacked, we settled ourselves in one of the lounges to warm ourselves up with a cup of tea . As it was raining quite heavily , we spent the rest of the day at Ardtara reading books and magazines and generally just enjoying the lovely relaxed atmosphere and our beautiful surroundings
The highlight of the day was dinner in the hotel restaurant. The food itself was some of the best I’ve eaten in a while (the little mini cup of celeriac soup with focaccia bread was divine), the staff were attentive and the restaurant itself was elegant with wood panelling and a cosy fire. I’m not surprised it was named Best Hotel Restaurant in Ulster 2015.
On Sunday morning we ventured out for some fresh air and took a walk through the village of Upperlands which is home to some pretty cottages and to William Clark – Ireland’s oldest linen fabric mill dating back to 1736. I’m not sure if you can get a tour of the factory but if so, I’d very much like to return and do just that.
I mentioned earlier that we had made a short stop in Moneymore. There is a vintage tea room there which was unfortunately closed for the day. However, I did come across this florist shop on the main street which caught my eye because clearly the owner had gone to a lot of trouble to make the shopfront very welcoming and very pretty., something I always appreciate. It is called Cottage Rose.
Overall, it has been lovely to discover a new part of the country. I’ve never really spent much time in this area of Northern Ireland and it always amazes me what you can find on your doorstep if you just take the time to go and look. Not only do I feel like I have recharged my batteries after staying at Ardtara but it has spurred me on to get out there and experience more of what is close to home.
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