Marine Hotel, Ballycastle

Exterior of the Marine Hotel, Ballycastle

What’s the Marine Hotel like?

This independent hotel, in the bustling town of Ballycastle, is ideally located for exploring the beautiful Antrim Coast. It is right opposite a dog-friendly beach and attractions such as the Giant’s Causeway and filming locations for Game of Thrones are close by. Ballycastle is approximately an hour’s drive from Belfast.

How dog-friendly is the Marine Hotel?

Excellent. The hotel was one of the first properties in Northern Ireland to be awarded a Gold Paw rating by Dog Friendly NI, and the staff love welcoming four-legged guests. Pets are allowed in most of the hotel rooms and all visiting doggos will have a welcome basket waiting for them when they check in, containing a blanket, bowls and some treats.

Dogs are welcome to dine with their owners in the relaxed lobby, library or outdoor terrace and they can even order dishes such as the Hound Dog (sausages, champ and gravy) from the dedicated dog menu. It’s also a given that your pet pooch will get a sausage for breakfast. Up to two pets can stay per booking for an additional charge of £15 per dog per night.

Bedroom at the Marine Hotel, Ballycastle

Tell me more about the Marine Hotel

When you’re staying in a coastal location, you ideally want sea views – and that’s exactly what we got when we visited the Marine Hotel. Our room (No.118) was located on the first floor and had dual aspect windows overlooking the waterfront. The modern room was decorated in soothing shades of blue and grey with pops of yellow adding a playful feel. And while the huge superking bed was the main focus, there was plenty more space for storage and cute yet stylish mirrors and lamps.

There was a tray with complimentary tea, coffee and hot chocolate plus homemade shortbread biscuits that were replaced every day. And I also loved the fact there was a refillable water jug that could be topped up as and when at the water machine in the hallway. USB chargers also came in handy, too. The funky Terrazzo-effect shower room was a treat, with toiletries from The White Company, and the turndown service at night with complimentary flask of tea was a really nice touch.

A host of free activities are also provided for hotel guests, ranging from guided walks to bread-making demonstrations. And if you’re feeling brave, you can even try wild swimming (blankets and hot water bottles are provided). Currently, there are 51 rooms at the hotel but plans are in place to add more, plus some self-catering apartments and a roof terrace. There is plenty of parking at the hotel but be aware it costs £6 per day. If you’re lucky though, you might grab one of the free spots on the seafront.

Seafood Chowder at Marconi's restaurant at the Marine Hotel, Ballycastle

What’s the food like at the Marine Hotel?

Delicious. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at Marconi’s Bistro, which champions fresh, local produce. All of the food served is sourced from within 50 miles of the hotel and while many guests come here for the fresh, local seafood, there is everything from whiskey-glazed pork belly to mushroom and spinach polenta on the menu.

One of the most popular dishes is the seafood chowder served with homemade Guinness wheaten bread, pictured above. But the Strangford Lough mussels and Ballycastle rarebit – with locally smoked salmon – regularly sell out too. The hearty desserts, such as sticky toffee pudding and apple and berry crumble, are also a real treat.

The breakfast buffet is worth getting out of bed for too and there is an excellent – and well-priced – and selection of wine and cocktails served throughout the day. The hotel also has a Costa Coffee outlet in the lobby, which serves tasty cakes and toasties and is incredibly popular with daytrippers. You can even grab an ice cream to go.

Are there resident dogs at the Marine Hotel?

No, but you may well meet a few others who have popped in for a drink or bite to eat with their owners.

Ballycastle Beach

Where are the best dog walks near the Marine Hotel?

Ballycastle Beach is just over the road from the hotel and dogs are allowed here all year round. The beach, which is a mix of sand and shingle, runs for almost a mile so is a great place for your pooch to let off some steam. A golf course runs alongside much of the beach and in the distance, you can see the cliffs of Fair Head, which provided the backdrop for Dragonstone in Game of Thrones.

Ballycastle Forest, on the slopes of Knocklayd Mountain, is also an excellent place to stretch your legs. The Moyle Way, which forms part of the Ulster Way, leads walkers into the woods and tracks a former railway line. Check out this 2.9-mile circular loop that largely follows a gravel pathway. Weather-permitting, you’ll be able to see as far the Scottish islands of Islay and Jura when you get to the top.

Marconi's bistro at The Marine Hotel, Ballycastle

What I loved about the Marine Hotel

The location, the stylish rooms, the delicious food

How to book the Marine Hotel

A two-night Stay and Sea package starts from £190pp and includes breakfast each morning, one evening meal at Marconi’s and a boat tour. For more information or to book, call 028 2076 2222 or visit the Marine Hotel website.

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