Winter Weekend in Westport
Friends, I have to be honest with you: Westport was never one of the places on my “to-go list”. Why would I want to go to a small town tucked away in the back arse of nowhere? A trip to Westport would have meant experiencing that true Irish-country-feel that tourists seem to revel in. To be honest, the smell of cow poop that comes to mind from previous country visits doesn’t do it for me. Then Boyfriend came along. He spoke of the wonders of the Wild West & insisted time and time again that we visit Westport together. Apparently, I would love it. I was skeptical, but I am weak to Boyfriend’s puppy-dog eyes.
We set out for Westport in January 2016, and returned again in December 2016.
**2020 edit: since then, we have visited a further four times – Boyfriend always knows best.
It takes just over three hours to drive from Dublin to Westport, & the journey is filled with the most gorgeous landscapes. With the ‘Into The Wild’ soundtrack playing on full volume, we drove from one side of the country to the other. I had never been to Mayo before, but ever since our first visit to Westport, I’ve been hooked. There’s something about the place that hits you in the face & sticks in your mind long after your visit has ended. A certain type of magical charm that you can’t really put your finger on. You can taste it in the air, see it in all of the quaint little shopfronts, & feel it when you venture into your first Westport pub for a local Mescan beer.
where to stay
The Wyatt Hotel // a charming hotel. Perfect location, excellent rooms, friendly & helpful staff, not one single thing we could fault it on. Added bonus: the bar in the hotel does an outstanding club sandwich, which is not a statement we would make lightly.
The Helm // slightly outside town, along the quay. We’ve stayed here twice, and it’s good for groups that want to rent a whole apartment, but it’s nothing special other than that. Would book a hotel if it’s just for two.
The Mill Times Hotel // a very central hotel. Located just off the main street – a standard, cheap hotel. The room was comfortable & the breakfasts in the morning were hearty and filling.
where to eat
This Must Be The Place // a beautiful new cafe occupying the space where WTR was. The menu is healthy and fresh, filled with original ideas not found anywhere else in Westport. The food is delicious – as is the coffee – so much so that Boyfriend & I stopped in for a speedy lunch before setting off home. Pro tip: get the homemade beans with the feta and the chorizo, it is mouthwatering-ly good.
Willow Tea Rooms // adorable little tea rooms just beside the clock tower (with an A+ window display also), serving up a huge choice of loose leaf teas & cute little baked goods. I’m a sucker for a cute mince pie & this was definitely the best one I’ve had in my whole life – heated ever so slightly with a healthy (or not so healthy) dollop of softly whipped cream. Perfection. 2019 edit: now closed, but leaving this here for the memories.
An Port Mor // an absolute must. An adorable, quaint little restaurant from the outside, a seriously great restaurant on the inside. The food is outstanding, perhaps the best we’ve had in all of Ireland. Every meal we’ve had there – yes, there have been a few – has left us in awe, wanting to come back again the very next night. The service is impeccable. A little pricier than most, but after one bite of your roasted pig cheek you’ll forget all about that, we promise.
The Pantry & Corkscrew // the sheer volume of glowing reviews for this place on Trip Advisor piqued our interest so much that we had to try it out. The whole truth: I have never been so pleasantly surprised in my whole life! We loved it so much we cancelled one of our bookings & ate here two nights in a row. Pro tip: get the fried chicken – mouthwatering, moist, tender, crispy & delicious!
Cronin’s Sheebeen // a 40-minute trek outside town, the Sheebeen is the perfect place to refuel. In Dublin, when you eat in a pub it’s always the same dried out food that you regret eating. Cronin’s Sheebeen is so far away from that – the food is always delicious. The goat’s cheese starter is a winner; baked in angel hair pastry, it is the most delicious & delicate thing ever. Added bonus: they do a ‘smoked bacon mashed potato’ that tastes exactly like Bacon Fries. Trust.
where to drink
Matt Molloy’s // one of those places that everyone goes to. If you say you’re going to a pub, people assume you mean Matt Molloy’s & that’s just it. You might get lucky & secure a seat in the back beside the fire, where you can watch the live band play. If you find yourself seated at the bar, there’s a great collection of American police badges pinned up all over the walls from all sorts of places.
McGing’s // definitely our favourite pub in Westport. Have you seen the outside? A grey, dull building, entirely brought to life by the mad bright colours of the pub. Walking inside feels like stepping back in time. It’s like one of those great pubs your grandparents used to drink in that were so full of character. In the sitting room – yes, the sitting room – there’s a lovely blazing fire to keep warm while you sip away on your Mescan. What more could you ask for?
Hunt down some Mescan // wherever you can. Locally brewed, it is delicious.
The Gallery Boutique Wine Bar // a chic little wine bar to nestle into for a glass of wine. When we asked the owner, Tom, what wines he had by the glass he answered us with a question: what would you like? Two glasses of malbec later, we were satisfied customers.
Marlene’s Chocolate Haven // the only place I have ever ordered a hot chocolate & actually enjoyed it. Basically, the inside of the cup is coated with luscious melted chocolate & piping hot milk is poured into the middle. Two options: stir thoroughly to feel like you’re drinking liquid chocolate or do it my way & scoop all of the melty chocolate out with your spoon & make a right mess.