I’ve stayed in some obscure places during Christmas and New Year down the years. I’m talking homestays in Iran, sharing rooms in Parramatta Australia, camping in the mountains of Peru or hiking in China. In 2014 however, I was in Europe at Christmas for the first time in 6 years. I decided to spend some time with family as well as exploring my home country of Northern Ireland. I love seaside towns and I grew up in one, Bangor. So it was all set, after a day touring Portadown and Tandragee’s famous Tayto Castle, we headed to the coast in North Down to stay at the popular Cairn Bay Lodge in Bangor.
I had been on the website of the Cairn Bay Lodge and heard about it from some friends and we were looking forward to it. Panny (THKG) and I booked into a double room for the night and planned to relax here and enjoy the ambience and Ulster hospitality. The Cairn Bay Lodge turned out to be a real gem of a place, almost like a secret hiding place down by Ballyholme Beach in this iconic Northern Irish seaside town. I’ve picked out 8 things we both loved about our stay in Cairn Bay and added some photos. This was a great choice of a place to finish off a busy year of travel for me.
1. Incredible Sea Views
I love seaside towns and Bangor sits right on Belfast Lough. The waves crash upon the rocks and beach at Ballyholme Bay, right outside the Cairn Bay Lodge. Epic sunrise over Ballyholme, one for nature lovers, photographers and those who love to admire a decent view.
The views are quite simply tremendous. Perfect for a stroll.
As a nice touch, our room had a pair of binoculars in it! I did some bird and boat watching from the window!
2. Cosy Luxury Rooms
Our room was called “Ballyholme Bay” room and was coloured mostly green. We had fantastic views from the window, a settee (sofa), a desk, an ensuite…
A cosy double bed, a spacious room, quirky key ring with old postcards attached to it!
A TV and outside the room a range of DVDs for watching.
Tea, coffee, Ovaltine, Tayto and Kit Kats all on a tray in the room plus a kettle.
3. Local Atmosphere
Owners Chris and Jenny keep things local. Each room receives a tray including Tayto Cheese and Onion crisps on it. They use Northern Irish cheese and bread with the breakfast and there is also a shop where you can buy local guides, postcards and even tea.
Cairn Bay Lodge has a real local charm about it. It feels Northern Irish. The way a Guesthouse anywhere in the world should be – local and unique to that place. With its Bangor posters and references everywhere, this is as local as they come.
It’s a must for me these days working on the move to have decent Wi-Fi. Fast in room Wi-Fi is available here plus I get to have a bloggers desk for the night too!
There is also a massive lounge and sitting room downstairs where you can get cosy and get some work done.
5. Exquisite Breakfast
Breakfast here at the Cairn Bay Lodge is a real treat. Firstly, it’s in the downstairs room and has an epic view over the bay. Secondly the selection of the food is unrivalled anywhere on my entire travels.
Tea or Coffee. Fruit Juice. Fresh Fruit.
Breakfast cereals and yoghurt.
Northern Irish cheeseboard. Including a delicious cheese with Dulse in it – Dulse being edible seaweed from the sea waters of Northern Ireland.
Full Ulster Fry. The night before, the owners give you a piece of paper for you to tick what you want for breakfast! I loved that. Every breakfast is cooked to order. I don’t like mushrooms, so I didn’t have to bear the thought of having them on my plate. Northern Irish breakfast special is called the Ulster Fry and this is normally fried tomato, bread, soda bread, bacon, sausages, egg (fried or scrambled) and potato bread.
6. Local Events
The Cairn Bay Lodge is proud of its heritage and embraces local culture and events. They have been proud to host mini music gigs as part of the Bangor Open House Festival.
Upon talking to the owners, I also learned that legendary US country folk/rock singer Steve Earle stayed here!
7. Tourist Information and Guides
With owners Chris and Jenny very knowledgeable about the local area and travel in general, there is an abundance of tourist information, brochures, leaflets and guides here at the Cairn Bay Lodge. If there’s anything you need to know – just ask them!
8. Welcoming Couple
Cairn Bay Lodge is run and owned by Jenny and Chris. A local couple. Before opening Cairn Bay Lodge (back in 1995), Chris and Jenny backpacked, travelled and worked abroad including in hotels and hospitality where they developed a flair for travel and people who love to travel. This is obvious when you stay here.
You can always tell when you travel and stay in a place that is owned and run by fellow travellers – people on the same wave length as you, people passionate about exploring the planet and meeting new people and experiencing new things. I compared my stay here at the Cairn Bay to my stay in the Black Cat Hostel in Paraguay’s Asuncion (run by Lilia), the 10 Coins Hostel in Bulgaria’s Sofia (run by Nick and Julia) and the Casa San Ildefonso in Mexico City (run by Cristina).
Overall, I loved my stay here at Cairn Bay Lodge and really hope my readers and followers get to read this and will come and stay here. Trust me – you will love it. The Cairn Bay Lodge is open all year round and is a perfect place to relax in. Jenny also runs a Beauty Centre at the Lodge, details are here and non guests can also book a breakfast at the Lodge by calling in advance. Here are the full details for booking:
278 Seacliff Road
Tel: 028 91 467636
If you do stay here, don’t forget to say Hi to Chris and Jenny from me! I hope to be back again soon.
Here are some videos I made during my stay at the Cairn Bay Lodge in Bangor, Northern Ireland: