”Where should we stay?”
That question takes on a double meaning on a road trip, and when you’re exploring a new country. You need a great hotel and a city that serves as a good stopping point or hub. We found both at the Limerick Strand Hotel on Ireland’s west coast.
It’s all about location, right? As one of the larger cities on the Wild Atlantic Way, Limerick is about midway between Cork or Killarney, and Galway. That makes it a great choice as a hub for seeing Ireland’s southwest. If you’re just arriving to Ireland at Shannon Airport, Limerick is just about 30 minutes away. From there, the great Irish Rail network connects the city with most major towns across the country.
If you are road-tripping around Ireland, Limerick makes a good stop-over as you transition between the southwest to northwest, or before heading east towards Dublin. The M7 motorway runs from Limerick to Dublin, making a convenient start/stop point for a cross-island drive.
It’s more than just a good place to spend a night, though! Limerick is a fun city to explore, with Milk Market Limerick, the Hunt Museum, King John’s Castle, and the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral. Be sure to take a stroll along the famous River Shannon, and browse through Newtown Pery, Limerick’s Georgian Quarter. For sports fans, there’s Thormund Park, home of the Munster Rugby Club, and Páirc na nGael, the Gaelic Grounds, where the Limerick hurling and football teams play. (GAA, the Gaelic Athletic Association, is a big deal in Limerick!)
Choosing the Strand Hotel
Much like Limerick itself, the Strand Hotel has the luxury of a great location. On the banks of the Shannon River at the Sarsfield Bridge, the hotel looks into the heart of Limerick. In 20 minutes or less, you can walk to many of the places we just mentioned, including the Milk Market and King John’s Castle. It’s on the Ennis Road (R445), which turns into William Street (R527) across the river, where you’ll find pubs and cafes, restaurants, and shops.
While Limerick is one of Ireland’s oldest cities, the Strand Hotel is a thoroughly modern hotel. Its sleek exterior is prelude to the clean, contemporary rooms. All the amenities you’d expect from a mid-range, four-star hotel are available, including free high-speed Wi-Fi throughout. The Energize Leisure Center is open to hotel guests with state-of-the-art exercise equipment, four pools, and, to help soothe those travel-weary bones, a jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna. (We really wish we had more time for that sauna!)
Our Stay at the Limerick Strand Hotel
During our stay, the staff was professional and very helpful. In fact, the desk staff was outright enthusiastic about their city, and patient with our questions and requests. The hotel notes that staff can help with anything you might need, from dinner reservations to rugby tickets. We didn’t put that to the test, asking only for some extra towels which were delivered quickly.
We appreciated the free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel, and never had trouble accessing it. Whether in our room or the Executive Lounge, or in public areas like the lobby and restaurants, the connection was strong and fast.
Speaking of the lobby, we love a good one, where you can sit and (pretend to) work, people watch, visit, or just relax with a coffee. Again, the Strand didn’t disappoint, with a comfy seating area just outside the restaurant. Afternoon Tea can be enjoyed here (which we missed). One of our favorite spots was a garden space downstairs, appropriately called the Secret Garden. While it could get loud and crowded when the nearby conference facilities are in use, it was a quiet and spacious outdoor escape on the weekend.
Rooms @ the Strand
The Superior, Contemporary, and Executive rooms are all the same size (29 square meters), with fairly large bathroom suites that have both shower and tub. All rooms have refrigerators, ironing boards, 40-inch flatscreen TVs, and laptop-sized safes. Another nice standard feature is blackout blinds. As the hotel faces east, this would be a blessing for anyone who wakes at first light.
We chose an Executive Room for a bit of indulgence, and were more than pleased. It included access to the Executive Lounge (see below), and was equipped with plush bathrobes and slippers. Most importantly, the Executive Rooms come with Nespresso coffee makers! The rooms also overlook the River Shannon, while others have a view of the city skyline, or a partial river view. If you’re looking for that Wow! view of the river and city, though, upgrade to a Junior Suite.
Why choose an Executive Room? Free breakfast in the Lounge is one way to stretch your budget with breakfast.
Apparently, our reputation for enjoying chocolates and macarons preceded us. A slate of delightful goodies awaited our arrival, which we assume is a perk of the room class. We ate them immediately, as we explored our room. It was handsomely furnished and spotlessly clean, with big windows that looked out on the strand and river. We liked the bath amenities from Irish-American designer Paul Costelloe, but what we enjoyed the most was the simple luxury of a comfy bathrobe after a shower.
The Limerick Strand Hotel also offers Triples and Family Rooms. For something more luxurious, choose a Junior Suite, or go for broke in the Penthouse Suite. The suites all have balconies with panoramic views of Limerick and the River Shannon. As you might expect, the Penthouse Suite is substantially larger, with a separate living and dining area. (Note: You cannot book the Penthouse online; you must call the hotel directly.)
The Executive Lounge
We had booked an Executive room in part because they come with access to the Executive Lounge. What’s nice at the Strand Hotel is the lounge is separated from the rooms, so if/when things get noisy, it doesn’t carry down the hall to where you’re trying to sleep.
The lounge is stocked with snacks and beverages throughout the day. While not quite a breakfast, there are pastries, fruit and yogurt in the morning, along with tea and coffee. In the evenings, there are canapes and specially selected wines for Executive Hour (18:00 to 19:00).
The Executive Lounge has a comfortable seating area with a large screen TV, and also a light and bright area with tables near the windows. This was a great spot to get some work done, and you could take advantage of the PC and printer in the lounge, if needed.
Dining at The Strand
The Strand Hotel claims to have the best restaurant in Limerick, and has the accolades to prove it. Among other awards, they received Ireland’s Menu Provenance Gold Award, which recognizes restaurants that utilize local and seasonal produce all year round.
The Award-Winning River Restaurant
Situated on the banks of the Shannon, it’s only fitting that the Strand pays tribute to the historical waterway with the River Restaurant. As in most hotels, it’s a busy place in the morning, when you can choose a menu or buffet breakfast. Being in Ireland, we appreciate a full Irish breakfast, and the River did not disappoint. The buffet includes an egg and omelet station, along with Irish staples like black and white pudding, roasted tomatoes, beans, and potatoes. Continental options include cold cereals, pastries, and fruit.
The River also serves two- and three-course dinners in the evenings (€25 and €30). Unfortunately, we had evening engagements and didn’t get to try them. The hotel is known for local farm-to-table cuisine, and we would love to have sampled the delicious looking plates. (See the video below on the Limerick Strand Hotel’s food story.)
Terrace Bar & Café
The casual Terrace Bar and Café offers menu service throughout the day. It’s the spot for adult beverages, including their Whiskey and Gin Experiences, guided by expert mixologists. It wouldn’t be Irish without a bit of the craic, and live music on Saturday nights gets it going. We are told that, if there’s a match in town (they love the GAA!), the Terrace will be a lively spot pre- and post-game.
Something else we missed is Afternoon Tea, served in the Terrace Café. Imagine a tower of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries, and a hot cup of Bewley’s – or the tea or coffee of your choice. Have a plate and settle into a seat overlooking the Shannon. We can’t imagine a better way to enjoy an afternoon in Limerick. (Afternoon Tea is served from 14:00 to 16:00 at €23.95 per person.)
In the end, the question is whether we would return. Given our first experience, and what we missed out on, we definitely would. The décor really suited our personal style, and the staff was fantastic. Both helped to make us feel at home in a new country.
We mentioned that we missed Afternoon Tea, and that’s just one thing we would come back for. The Leisure Center offers much more than we could experience in a short sightseeing stay. We would love to have more time just to enjoy the hotel. We would also love to be there when the hometown rugby or football teams are playing, and for Saturday night craic.
We found the Limerick Strand Hotel to be elegant and luxurious, without being stuffy or pretentious. We can’t wait to get back to Limerick, and stay at the Strand again. Hopefully in that Penthouse Suite!
When You Go
A few things to know if you decide to stay at the Limerick Strand Hotel:
- If using a GPS device, you may end up in front of the hotel, on O’Callaghan Strand. However, the entrance to the hotel is on a driveway before you get to O’Callaghan (or after, if coming central Limerick).
- Depending on season, room rates start around €100 to €150.
- Self-parking is available at €8 per day, with elevator access to the lobby.
- If you need a bit of a spruce up, guests get a 10% discount at the on-site Niall Colgan Hair Studio.
- The Limerick Strand Hotel is smoke free.
Have You Been?
If you’ve stayed at the Limerick Strand Hotel, or spent time exploring the city, we’d love to hear about your experiences! If you haven’t visited, have we inspired you to consider a stay at the Strand? Either way, please let us know your thoughts in the comments! Feel free to ask any questions; if we don’t know the answer, we can find it!
Disclosure: Disclaimer: This review was neither solicited nor compensated by Strand Hotel or the MHL Hotel Collection. Our stay was booked anonymously, and all opinions are our own.