Despite my Irish heritage, I only set foot on the Emerald Isle (Dublin, to be precise) for the first time two months ago. I absolutely loved it. The people, the place, the accent, everything was just grand, so it was.
After the success of that trip I was looking forward to our extended family holiday at the beginning of August even more. This was because, inspired by my Granny’s upbringing in Lisburn and Belfast, we needed look no further than Northern Ireland when scouting out the perfect location, and I was excited to see what the north had to offer this time around.
There were 16 of us on this holiday, which can be a challenge when finding accommodation to suit everyone of different ages and interests.
Enter Downhill Beachhouse.
There is so much that can be said about Downhill. It’s simply beautiful. From the kindness and welcoming nature of William and McCall who run it to its stunning location, we couldn’t have hoped for a better place in which to wake up every morning. The house itself is a striking white against the imposing cliffs, and boasts nine bedrooms containing 37 beds in total. It’s spacious without feeling like a maze, and cozy without feeling restrictive.
I mean, just look at it.
The eagle-eyed Game of Thrones fans among you may recognise the structure on the clifftop in the left-hand corner of photo above. By day it’s known as Mussenden Temple, but it moonlights as the backdrop of Dragonstone beach in episode 1 of season 2 of the series as it plays host to the ‘Burning of the Seven Gods’. The filming was documented on Downhill’s official website.
Fortunately, if you’re also quite snap-happy, then the temple makes for brilliant photo ops.
In terms of the house itself, it’s beautifully decorated. I had a room on the top floor of the house which contained one double bed and one single. Other highlights in the house included a gorgeous large mirror on the wall by the stairs leading up to the top floor in addition to the stained glass on the door downstairs.
However, my favourite aspect of my room wasn’t being able to starfish across the double bed (although I did enjoy it), but rather the view from the window of my room onto the beach below. If you’re after a room with a view, then you won’t be disappointed at Downhill.
Views are really the name of the game when staying here. I saw some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever come across during the week at Downhill, in addition to an incredible storm. As much as I tried, my photos don’t do it justice, but I gave it a shot, nonetheless:
As for that storm, it happened while members of our family were having a private surfing lesson with Dan from Long Line Surf School. Despite the rain, they headed out into the water and continued even once the powerful storm, driving wind and rain descended on Downhill Beach.
In terms of other water-based activities which we found out about through Downhill, we also headed to nearby Portstewart for a three hour deep sea fishing experience. This was a shock to the system. I caught the first fish of the evening (also my first ever fish), which led to the skipper, Peter, making me kiss it. I took a lot of persuading. So salty.
I wasn’t smiling like this at the time.
It was wet, cold and rainy, but a great thing to do. And yes those are surgical gloves I’m wearing. This wasn’t your average summer holiday fishing experience, mostly temperature-wise, but it did let us watch another beautiful sunset.
This was the perfect way to round off a wonderful week in Northern Ireland. If you want to explore the country or even just the Causeway Coastal Route, then have a look at Downhill. It operates as a hostel as well as taking group bookings. But be quick, I have a feeling that this little gem is only going to get more and more popular.
Visit Downhill Beachhouse/Hostel’s website here.