A few blog posts ago I mentioned that during our time off in July we had opted for a ‘staycation’. We do normally venture further afield but this year, somehow, we decided to stay at home. That didn’t mean we had to be boring though and as we have very luckily stayed in most of Northern Ireland’s best hotels over the years, it was time to do something a little bit different and have more of an ‘experience’. So I hopped onto the internet to see what was out there…that was when I came across Finn Lough, completely by chance as I browsed online during my break at work as one does.
Now, I had never heard of this place, but after quickly checking it out online, I knew it’s what we had been looking for. Without further ado, I rang through and booked for a night’s stay. A few weeks later I rang back and booked a second night’s stay and boy, were we glad that we did.
Finn Lough is a holiday village based in County Fermanagh, set in forested grounds around Lough Erne, approximately one mile from the Donegal/Fermanagh border and about 100 miles west or so from Belfast. It has a range of accomodation (from suites to waterside cottages and lakeside lodges) and offers a range of activities on site (tennis, fishing and a marina amongst others). What stole it for me though was a chance to stay in a bubble dome…a structure with transparent walls, allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors but with the creature comforts of a luxury hotel. Glamping and then some.
We set off on late on Sunday morning, arriving at Finn Lough in the early afternoon. Our first night’s stay was in one of the suites and as our room was ready early, we quickly unpacked, freshened up and set out to explore our surroundings. As it turned out, Finn Lough is a beautiful location and with the sun high in the sky and the temperature in the early 20’s (that’s hot for us local folks), it was a joy just to walk around the lake, admiring the scenery, the glistening water and the lush greenery that slopes down to the water’s edge. It literally was a breath of fresh air…
Feeling suitably refreshed, it was back to our suite for a quick change before heading downstairs to the restaurant for a lovely meal. As the weather was so good, we asked if a ‘sundowner’ (drinks and a firepit by the lake as the sun sets) could be arranged for us. It was rather late by this stage but we had not been expecting the weather to be so good so we hadn’t thought of booking ahead. Thankfully the staff were more than happy to accommodate and within 10 minutes or so, we were back again by the water’s edge, enjoying a delicious bottle of chilled wine with just each other for company and the sun setting behind the hills. We must have stayed there until around 11 or so that night..it was total bliss !
Next morning, after a good breakfast, we took a short drive to the village of Belleek (home of the famous Belleek pottery) for a walk about and a coffee, then it was back to Finn Lough to spend an afternoon at the spa. Just newly opened, this isn’t your typical spa. It’s a spa trail and as the name suggests, it’s a trail through part of the forest, stopping at four cabins along the way , each one offering a different treatment. It began with a salt flotation pool, then a Finnish sauna, followed by a herbal sauna and ended with a hot tub (spending approx 20 mins or so in each cabin). We had never tried any of those things before, so it was quite an experience. I loved the flotation pool once I got used to the idea of effortlessly floating on the water, but I guess the highlight for both of us was the hot tub at the end…perfectly relaxing as the bubbles frothed around us, the sun gleaming down on us through the canopy of trees and butterflies and bees darting about overhead. Perfectly positioned, the hot tub offers beautiful views to the lake..what more could you ask for?
(picture courtesy of Finn Lough, all other pictures my own)
After approximately two hours, it was time to leave the spa trail and embark on the next element of our holiday – the bubble dome. We picked up a picnic from the hotel reception and then loaded our luggage onto a buggy for the short drive into the forest. The bubble domes are located further away from the main buildings, each one with it’s own entrance, allowing you privacy and seclusion. It’s like having your own little space pod in the forest. I had never seen anything quite like it.
Our bubble dome was quite spacious inside, with a large double bed, comfortable armchairs, a coffee machine and ensuite bathroom.
As it was quite warm inside due to the lovely sunny weather, we were more than happy to sit outside, enjoy our picnic and reflect on a great day. The dome we stayed in faced out to the lake in one direction, and on to a lovely sun kissed meadow on the other.
There were plenty of bees, butterflies and other friends to keep us company too.
As time past and it turned a little cooler, we headed back indoors into our bubble dome to enjoy the rest of our evening. As darkness descended, the atmosphere seemed to change. It was quiet and perfectly still and as I looked into the forest that surrounded us, it made me feel so small in the natural scheme of things, like nature was reclaiming the forest for a few hours at least. As it got darker still, and it was pitch black all around us, we climbed into bed and looked up at the night sky. With no light pollution, we were able to lie there and watch as what seemed like hundreds and hundreds of stars slowly emerged above us. I must have drifted off with that view overhead…..
A few hours later, I woke up again, my eyes adjusting to the morning sunlight streaming through the canopy just above us. No sound of early morning rush hour, just birdsong. I snuggled up on the armchair with a cup of coffee in hand and just sat there, eager to absorb as much of the experience as I could, knowing that shortly I would be going home.
All in all, a fabulous and really memorable experience and we left feeling relaxed and with our wellbeing restored. We were lucky to have been blessed with sunny weather, but I think no matter what time of year you visit, it would still be special.I’d love to return one day, perhaps in the depth of winter when the forest has had a sprinkling of snow 🙂
For more information, please visit Finn Lough’s lovely website www.finnlough.com