Don’t just stay. Experience
Lighthouse keepers’ houses, 19th-century follies and haunted hotels. It’s only natural that this unique part of the world has some unique places to stay.
Blackhead Lighthouse stands atop the basalt cliffs of Islandmagee, keeping watch over the busy shipping lanes at the mouth of Belfast Lough. It was built in 1901, saw the heyday of Belfast’s shipbuilding industry, and helped guide the ill‑fated Titanic on the first leg of its maiden voyage.
Today, the light is automated, but it was once staffed by lighthouse keepers who lived in the houses to its rear. These beautifully‑restored homes are now available for self‑catering stays, and nothing exemplifies life on the sea and stone coast more than a getaway to this isolated spot. The windows look out onto sweeping views of The Gobbins Cliffs and the Irish Sea. Gulls and guillemots circle overhead. Each night you are lulled to sleep by the surging of the waves on the rocks far below.
The Barbican looks as if it has been guarding over Glenarm village since the Middle Ages.
In fact, it was built in the early 19th century, when ornamental gardens and romantic follies were all the rage among the upper classes.
Its stone turrets, gothic windows and period décor evoke nostalgia and whimsy.
Come for a self‑catering stay in the tower room where thick rugs, vaulted ceilings and wood‑burning stoves promise evenings of cosy comfort.
The best way to get close to daily life is to stay in a B&B. The Water’s Edge, in Glenarm, is a beautiful home right on the water where hosts Jenny and Pete love to introduce newcomers to this quaint village. Their rooms are bright and modern, the breakfast is delicious, and the views are to die for. It’s no wonder that the Water’s Edge won Northern Ireland’s Best Overnight Stay at the 2018 Tourism NI Awards.
The Adair Arms
The Adair Arms, a boutique hotel, was designed by Charles Lanyon – the architect responsible for Queen’s University Belfast’s main building and the Palm House at Belfast Botanic Gardens. This is one of the finest hotels in County Antrim, with luxury rooms, traditional afternoon teas and fine dining right in the heart of Ballymena. It’s a great place to spoil yourself.
Every castle has to have at least one ghost of some kind, and Ballygally Castle is rumoured to have as many as three. Guests have reported being woken up by small hands pushing and tugging at them in their sleep, only to wake up and find no one there, hearing only the sound of a laughing child.
Most reports consist of knocking at the doors of their room in the night, followed by the laughing of children and the sound of small feet running away down the hall. But it’s the
ghost of Lady Isabella Shaw, wife of Lord James Shaw, that is perhaps the most well-known.
Legend has it that Lord Shaw wanted a son, and when his wife delivered his heir, he snatched the baby from his wife and locked her in a room at the top of the castle.
While trying to escape to search for her beloved child, Lady Isabella fell to her death from the tower window. Her ghost is reputed to be a "friendly" spirit who walks the corridors of the old castle.
Over the years many guests have reported strange experiences and have felt a presence in their rooms. There are also endless stories of unexplained noises in the night and an eerie green mist falling over the castle. Braver guests to the castle can climb the winding stair and visit Lady Isabella’s room. Not one for the faint-hearted!
Oranmore Guesthouse & Tearooms
Oranmore Guesthouse & Tearooms in Ballymena offers warm hospitality in an idyllic country setting.
Each room has been lovingly decorated around a different garden theme.
A roaring fire warms the sitting room in the colder months and the kitchen provides hearty Irish fare.
Explore the gardens where ancient trees preside over colourful flower beds.
Treat yourself to traditional, country hospitality at this hidden gem in the heart of County Antrim.
Dobbins Inn, in Carrickfergus, is perhaps the most storied hotel in the region.
It has been standing for over 800 years, built in the 13th century by the Norman knight, Reginald D’Aubin.
The ancient walls and old timbers have been lovingly restored, and the halls are lined with fascinating items like hunting trophies and suits of armour. Beware though, these rooms are frequented by the benign ghost of Elizabeth Dobbin, the wife of the inn’s 15th-century owner.
He had her put to death after he discovered that she was having an affair with a young soldier from Carrickfergus Castle.
These are just some of the fascinating places you can stay on the sea and stone coast.
For those looking for a hotel there is a great range in the area:
Plan Your Trip
A Taste of Tradition
'Toast the Coast' with Portia Woods and enjoy a taste of tradition on a fabulous foodie tour where you will enjoy some of the finest produce Northern Ireland and Mid & East Antrim has to offer.
Galgorm Resort & Spa
Set amidst woodland on the banks of the plunging River Maine, Galgorm Resort & Spa, is a part of our heritage, part of our natural world, but just on a higher plane of indulgence! This internationally renowned spa hotel welcomes guests to wander its 163 acres, relax in wood-fired hot tubs overlooking the river or in tranquil garden settings.
The Londonderry Arms
Pull up a chair and have a chat with Raymond Hunt in the Londonderry Arms' Arkle Whiskey Bar for tales of the Titanic, Winston Churchill, and a famous steeplechaser.