Along the border of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland sits Finn Lough, part of a large body of water known as Lower Lough Erne that stretches from Enniskillen to Ballyshannon. The Finn Lough Resort actually started in the 1980s with a series of holiday houses and was largely successful, offering a peaceful retreat to stressed out city dwellers. When the new generation took over the property though, they wanted to transform the resort into something new, something different. While there are still holiday homes available, the resort is so much more and offers a lot to do from kayaking and bike trails, to a remarkable spa experience the likes of which I’ve never seen before. There’s a lot to love about Finn Lough, but here are some of the most important details I think you should know.
People flock to the Finn Lough to spend some time in nature and to get away from it all. The resort’s pastoral location along the lake is ideal if you want to do very little except relax. There are also a number of fun outdoor activities though in case you’re like me and can’t stand the idea of just sitting still. Finn Lough has developed a number of biking trails in the adjacent forest, easy enough to manage using one of their complimentary mountain bikes and a fun way to experience the best of the Northern Irish outdoors. I’m more of a water guy though, which is why I decided to wander down to the boathouse and avail myself of one of the resort’s kayak rentals. The lake on which the resort sits is enormous, and even though I was out for nearly two hours I didn’t feel as if I even made a dent in all of the many nooks and crannies there are to explore. The truly innovative activity at the Finn Lough resort though is their one of a kind spa experience.
Even if you don’t think you’re a spa person, you have to try the one here. Set up as a series of stations set back in the forest, the experience is meant to be individual and very private. Going from heated saltwater baths to a traditional Finnish sauna and even a Jacuzzi overlooking the lake, the effect is instant and complete relaxation. Timers are set up in each spot so you know when your time is up and for me, the two hours absolutely flew by. I’ve never experienced anything quite like the spa at Finn Lough and I personally think it’s one of the resort’s highlights.
The resort is currently revamping its already impressive menu thanks to a new chef and culinary team. But the hallmarks of what Finn Lough has long been known for will remain, a commitment to local and sustainable food. Based on previous experience, I know that the food scene in Northern Ireland isn’t only underrated, it’s incredible and getting better all the time. What I love most about the new food movement is on clear display at Finn Lough and no two meals are exactly the same. Even the morning breakfast is better than at most 5-star hotels I’ve visited and there are a number of culinary extras to round out the experience. The very well stocked bar has a large range of gins and even a private whisky room where the on-site expert is happy to take guests through a tasting of his favorite bottles. The feeling throughout the resort though is very casual, even if the food is of a very high quality. That’s an aspect to the resort I loved, their ability to not take anything too seriously and for the ultimate in a laid back nightcap, I enjoyed a special S’Mores amenity by the lake. Guests can book a private campfire that, as the sun begins to set, is stocked with your favorite snacks and drinks. It’s an incredibly well thought out extra and one that I know I won’t soon forget.
Finn Lough has made the news a lot lately thanks to their innovative new “cabins” – The Bubbles. Chatting with one of the owners, she said that the original idea came to her as a child when she wished she could camp outside in a transparent tent. That initial concept was largely forgotten until, when at a trade show, she caught a glimpse of the transparent bubble. Working in close cooperation with the manufacturer, the owners set about to create the bubble domes we see today – the only ones of their kind in the world. Made from transparent, heavy-duty plastic, the temperature controlled domes feature 180-degree transparent walls that allow guests to fully immerse themselves in nature. There are a number of bubble domes strewn across the property, with more being added all the time and in different sizes. The standard though features a bubble dome complex that is isolated from other people on its own spot, with a private gated entrance to maximize privacy.
When I first approached the bubble domes, I was struck by how futuristic they are. Thanks to air pressure, there’s an airlock one must first enter before reaching the bedroom itself. Inside, as if plucked from a luxury hotel was everything I’d want no matter where I was spending the night. A large bed with incredibly plush linens, chairs, drawers and even a mini-fridge and coffee maker complete the set. It’s very much a luxury hotel room in every way with one notable exception, it’s in a snow globe located deep in the woods of Northern Ireland. There’s even an en suite bathroom, set off to the side of the bedroom in a smaller bubble that can be zipped up for privacy. It’s a remarkable way to be in nature without the inconvenience and I loved my night out underneath the stars.
Finn Lough has long attracted guests thanks to its lakeside location and laid back atmosphere, but in recent years they’ve improved in nearly every way. What I call rustic luxury, everything at the resort just works from the incredible service to the food and yes, even the bubbles. No detail is left forgotten and I honestly think it’s one of the best luxury-minded getaways that no one knows about. Until now, that is.