Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites  (Shortlist*)

On the most remote of the three Aran Islands (a stronghold of Irish culture), this ‘stunning’ modern stone-and-glass building was designed to blend into the native terraced stone fields; there are panoramic views to Galway Bay and the mountains of Connemara. It is run as a restaurant-with-suites by chef/patron Ruairí de Blacam and his wife, Marie-Thérèse, who offer a ‘gentle and warm’ welcome. Based on a philosophy of elemental eating, Ruairí de Blacam’s four-course menus use hyper-local ingredients (lobster and crab caught by island fishermen from traditional currachs; vegetables fertilised by island seaweed); cooked simply, each dish consists of just two elements, to let the natural flavours shine. Minimalist suites are decorated in muted colours, with wooden floors and furnishings designed by the owners; each has a large bed, a living space, vast floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor seating area. Guests are provided with packed lunches, maps and nature guides, bicycles, fishing rods, binoculars and swimming towels, all included in the rates. A breakfast box is delivered to the suite. 45-min. ferry from Ros a’ Mhíl; 7-min. flight from Connemara airport. Restaurant/lounge (dinner served at 8 pm; closed Sun nights). 3-acre grounds. Free Wi-Fi. No background music. Children accepted, by arrangement. 5 suites. B&B from £110, four-course set dinner £55, 2-night min. stay. Closed Oct–Mar.
  • Of the three Aran Islands, the middle one - Inis Meain - is the quietest. Its atmosphere matches its remoteness. This is reflected in Inis Meain Restaurant and Suites, where the limestone pavement landscape and rugged island life is brought inside with rough stone walls and ceilings, timber floors and furniture, complemented by soft woollen throws, cushions, etc, from the island's knitting factory. The views from the suites - which have well-stocked fridge, books of the islands, fishing rods and bicycles, but no TV or radio - are across Galway Bay and over the mountains of Connemara. Island life, such a wandering donkey, an old woman building a dry-stone wall, cows being herded down a lane, is the view in the foreground. A breakfast of home baked scones and brown soda bread, freshly laid eggs, salamis, fresh fruit, yogurts, etc, is delivered to the suite. Packed lunches are available (best one I've ever had), and the fantastic 20-seater restaurant is open for dinner. The food is superb, local seafood and produce feature strongly, including home-grown vegetables and the most delicious potatoes I've tasted. The lobster is unparalleled. The stunning building blends into the stone fields of the island. Marie-Therese and Ruairi - front of house and chef respectively - emanate a gentle warm welcome, a generosity of spirit and a deep understanding of the unique environment and history of the island.

    Sarah Goddard, 25/08/2009

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Local attractions

Stone Forts
Short hikes up pre-christian forts with magnificent views
Karst landscape
Explore cliff walks, rock formations and grey sand beaches created during the ice-age
Culture
Observe old island traditions in fishing, farming, language and literature

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Contact Details

Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites

INIS MEÁIN Co. Galway Ireland

Telephone

00 353 86 826 6026

Further Information