The Ice House along the River Moy keeps it cool and lets you chill

Mayo hotel has plenty to offer those looking for rest, relaxation and fine food

The Ice House hotel in Ballina, Co Mayo: sip prosecco, cocktails or a hot whiskey while taking in the views from the Chill Spa

As we turned the corner into Ballina and saw the Ice House rise up on the horizon, my travelling companion and I breathed a sigh of relief. We had driven from Dublin to Mayo on the Friday evening of a bank holiday weekend, so to say that we were delighted to reach our destination was an understatement.

Perched on the banks of the River Moy, the Ice House has already earned a reputation for relaxation-seekers for its Chill Spa, which took home the best hotel spa in Connacht award at our sister title Irish Tatler’s recent Spa and Wellness Awards.

While we were primarily there to enjoy the food, we couldn’t help but try out the spa too, and what an experience it was. I imagine that most people who venture along the Wild Atlantic Way do so for the area’s exceptional scenery, and this spa offers the chance to really slow down and take it all in.

The outdoor thermal suite – complete with hot tubs, loungers, signature seaweed baths (€55) and, of course, an icy cold shower – has panoramic views over the Moy, and when the sun is shining, it’s easy to while away a few hours here.

We enjoyed prosecco while soaking up the vitamin D, but our neighbours ordered espresso martinis, and the spa staff told us that patrons often enjoy a hot whiskey on cold days.

Grab a casual bite and a classic cocktail in the bar

In terms of food, you have several options. There’s a decent room service selection available, but tired as we were from our journey, we eschewed it in favour of a trip to the bar for some casual food and classic cocktails.

The crispy chicken with pickled onions was a real winner – think moreish, crunchy, and juicy tenders with sharp onions and a luxuriously thick dipping sauce – and would be perfect with a cool beer on a warm day.

The 54° 9° restaurant: starters are from €11 to €13, mains from €25 to €35. Picture: Andrew Bradley

If more formal dining is your scene, then 54° 9° restaurant offers an á la carte menu with starters from €11 to €13, and mains from €25 to €35. Each meal starts with a seasonal amuse bouche, which was goat’s cheese-based during our visit, and there were plenty of seafood offerings befitting the hotel’s coastal location, with the duo of Irish salmon a favourite (€13).

The restaurant is bright and spacious, and was packed on the night of our visit – we loved the buzz of the place, so stayed on for a nightcap or two in the bar before retiring to our cosy, comfortable room.

With fluffy pillows, luxurious robes and floor-to-ceiling views of the river, this was a space built for relaxation. You might be tempted to skip breakfast to have more time in it, but resist that temptation, because it’s an altogether lovely affair, with options like eggs Benedict with maple-cured bacon, and almond milk organic oatmeal.

It seems that the pandemic hasn’t dulled the west’s signature hospitality - every member of staff we encountered was pleasant and full of knowledge, providing cocktail recommendations, sightseeing directions and everything in between. We can’t wait to return.

See for offers or to book. Jordan Mooney was a guest of the hotel