Gem found in Portrush. More suspected.

by lyndacookson

Everything you need for a good break is in Portrush - a great boutique hotel and bistro, beaches, scenic drives, famous tourist attractions like The Giant's Causeway and Bushmills whiskey distillery

The wheels of my laptop bag kadunk-kadunked over the joints in the pavement as I trudged, with late-afternoon energy levels, down the main street toward the hotel we’d booked for our one-night stay in Portrush. It wasn’t meant to be a fun stay, or even a break, although we’d thoroughly enjoyed our drive across from Connemara on the West Coast of Ireland, through Galway, on up to Donegal, through Derry, around Coleraine and on to Portrush. It was a business trip for me and my husband, Alan.

My tired spirits lifted as I realised that the clean, white, three-storey building with rounded bay windows was our point of destination. It looked good. Our wilting spirits climbed even higher as we stepped through the front door into what was obviously a newly-renovated old building. The Adelphi Hotel, Portrush. Our sanctuary for the night.

Everything gleamed, contemporary furniture slipped the atmosphere easily from history to present day without damaging either, and the carpet felt new and full. I could swear, with retrospect, that something had been polished brass-shiny – maybe it was door handles and fittings which still gleam in my memory. Delicious aromas of the evening meal wafted through the door of the front lounge to my right, from the dining room beyond. Thankful that check-in at the reception area, tucked back neatly and discretely beneath the staircase, was friendly, quick and efficient, and too tired to take in much else, we rose in the lift to the only room which had been available to us with our late booking – the Honeymoon Suite.

While Alan followed his nose back down to the dining room to check out the menu, I lay back on the huge bed, resisting breaking the peace by switching on the TV, and surveyed the room. The Honeymoon Suite is open-plan with the shower, hand basin and big heart-shaped spa bath for two, at the end of the room next to the separate toilet. A pair of complimentary white towelling slippers sat next to a little bag of luxury goodies which included shampoos, shoe cleaner, toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream and disposable razor. On a cupboard next to the bed sat the complimentary tea and coffee paraphernalia.

We didn’t have a sea view from our room and instead looked out onto the back of other buildings. It may be, luckily, that we missed late-night traffic and people noises from the main road beneath the front rooms with a possible view – or maybe the front rooms don’t have a view either, the hotel being faced by other buildings in town.

Alan returned with the news that if we moved fast and went down to eat before 7 pm, we’d catch the early bird menu, and could then enjoy the luxury of a spa bath before a long night’s sleep. That sounded good to me.

We made it to the dining room just in time and sat down to an excellently prepared and reasonably priced meal. While we were finishing our meal, the early bird time slot expired, so we were able to compare the value we had received to the value of the more costly dinner menu other people were ordering. Peering at the food on other people’s plates we felt smug indeed to see that we had enjoyed almost the same size and quality meal as those diners enjoying the dinner menu. Service was attentive and we didn’t feel rushed to leave, even although we’d been part of the early bird deal.

On our way back up to the room, we stopped off at the reception desk to enquire about the free Wifi offered to guests. Hotel owner, Mark Holmes, popped out of his office, placed conveniently close to the reception area where he can keep a watchful eye on his guests, to offer his personal assistance in our making the internet connection. It was good to feel that he is well placed to be in touch with what is happening in his kingdom, and ready to spring into action to offer help and advice.

I awoke totally refreshed after a filmstar-like couple of hours spent in the spa bath the night before, and a comfortable night’s sleep in that ample bed. Breakfast was included in our room rate and we were greeted by fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereals, toast, and a hearty full Irish breakfast.

To complete the scenario for a perfect unexpected break, the sun was shining (for the morning at least) so we shed our shoes and spent an hour walking on the beach, watching trainee lifesavers having the time of their lives in the water, and enjoying the view of Portrush across the sand and sea. It was a simple and unexpected pleasure to add to our experience of the town. Inevitably, after that, we bought the expected bottle of Bushmills from the distillery, and braved the Giant’s Causeway in the rain which had begun to pelt down, before setting off for another scenic drive back to Galway.

Little did I know, because we didn’t have the time we’d liked to have had to spend in Portrush, that there is another beach and a small harbour on the other side of the Portrush town peninsula…I only noticed that beach on the aerial image of the town on the Adelphi Hotel website.

We’re planning to return for another blissful night at the hotel, including full use of their spa facilities, as soon as we can engineer an excuse to visit Portrush. Even if winter is muscling her way in by the time we get there, I intend to explore the town more thoroughly. I suspect there are a lot more gems than the Adelphi Hotel waiting to be sniffed out in Portrush.


I am a South African-born painter and author based in the Maam Valley of Connemara, Co. Galway (West Coast of Ireland). 1 October 2010 saw the opening of my art gallery, working studio and framing studio (The Painter's Palette) in Moycullen, ten minutes drive west of Galway, and I'm lucky to have two terrific assistants who will hopefully handle all the admin-type stuff while I happily paint and write and travel!

I've travelled fairly extensively throughout Southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia - and of course most corners of South Africa) - having lived in KwaZulu Natal (born a Durbanite and spent a decade in Pietermaritzburg), Gauteng (in the then Pretoria) and the Cape Province (Cape Town and Greyton). I still hanker after the smell of dust, the colours of an African sunset and the wildlife ... but feel incredibly fortunate to now have the opportunity to live in a cool climate where the sun rises and sets in a different part of the sky, the stars look different, the smells and colours are vastly different, and Europe is just across a puddle or two.

In 1997 I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in New Zealand (Christchurch) and Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) - not nearly enough time though to really get a feel of the place.

Since settling in Ireland, and having travelled around most of the island, including exhibiting my paintings in and visiting Northern Ireland, I've spent wonderful weeks (a couple of times each) in Italy, Spain, Holland, Scotland, Wales and England with little touches into Belgium and France. As I write this (November 2010) I'm sitting in the Portuguese Algarve with the crickets playing their music outside while I chat to my daugher (by email) about her wedding which is set to take place in Slovenia in December 2011. I know there's a week in Scotland to be fitted in during February as well ..... how heavenly it is to have itchy feet!

And I'm still planning on visiting Malaysia for an exhibition and painting tour ......