A weekend in Athlone

Where we stayed

We had a voucher for two nights’ B&B at the Prince of Wales Hotel given to Claire and it suited her to go when we did as she was just finished a large charity event she works on. It’s a small hotel with 46 rooms so it can book out quite fast, especially as one of the few hotels that openly welcomes hens and stags. It’s incredibly central and with The Prince Bar and Karma Nightclub, it’s definitely a party hotel. Our room was quite spacious and very quiet, as it was at the back of the hotel, away from the nightclub. The food is very reasonably priced and the menu is quite extensive; there’s everything from fajitas and pizza to Cajun chicken burgers and steak, basically typical bar-food. The staff in the bar, restaurant and at reception were lovely, funny, friendly and at times flirty throughout our stay.

What we did, where we ate and drank

On our arrival, we met our Mum and Dad, they were on the way back from their mid-week break in Galway (we’re such jetsetters!) and we had planned to meet for some late lunch. It was raining heavily so we stayed put in the hotel, we three women had various wraps and sandwiches and Dad opted for the carvery and we were all happy, the folks headed off home and we enjoyed two cheeky drinks each to start our weekend break off properly.

Drinks

The staff were all so helpful with tips and planning ideas, so with their help we decided to have dinner in The Prince Bar in our hotel for our first night and opted for Cajun chicken burgers, which were lovely. The chocolate brownie was absolutely amazing too but definitely for sharing (there were plenty of starter options but we both prefer desserts) We headed down to the oldest pub in Ireland after dinner, Sean’s Bar, which is a very authentic, old-style pub with sawdust on the floor but also a big beer-garden. It gets busy fast, has a great atmosphere and the music was a live band playing chart music as well as Irish songs. We were welcomed back to our residents bar later on.

Luckily the hotel is situated right across the road from Centra, so Claire was able to secure some cure for our minor hangover the morning after. Breakfast was fine, a reasonable selection, all cooked to order, served until 11am and no wait time.

We then headed to Athlone Castle on Saturday early afternoon, it was €8 each and it was definitely worth it. We were expecting it to be like a museum but it was so much more interactive than that. As well as the artefacts and information on the walls, there are interactive videos, props and dress up stations, which we had way too much fun with; we can’t help it, we love to learn!  It’s a great day activity for adults and kids and you could easily spend a couple of hours here, the admission ticket also gives you a discount on Irish coffees in Sean’s Bar and other nationwide tourist attractions.

We then went for a little stroll around the shops and while we swore we wouldn’t buy anything, we left with a pair of shoes each. It has a great shopping centre right in the centre of town with River Island, H&M, Oasis, Warehouse, Zara and many more of the usual suspects. It also has a lot of lovely places for much needed coffee too and then back to the hotel around 5pm for the hair of the dog and then a disco nap.

The hotel rooms have DVD players in the room, which might be good for hens/stags and there are plenty of activities for such gatherings in the area including a really fun booze cruise, outdoor adventure centre and cocktail making classes.  

Shoe shopping is always a good idea.

Shoe shopping is always a good idea.

For Saturday night, we booked dinner in Hatter’s Lane Bistro, which got rave reviews from TripAdvisor, our hotel staff and a few of the friendly locals we met the night before. We weren’t disappointed. The menu isn’t foodie but it’s more than pub grub. Their sizzling chili & orange beef was particularly tasty and they made a lovely cocktail. The restaurant is movie-themed and very cosy and cute, the staff were great and the atmosphere, buzzy. We headed next door to their sister pub, Gertie Browne’s for one after dinner. Good pub but no music so we moved on.

Hatter's Lane

We intended to head back to our hotel for drinks then, but as it turns out, the bar is much more like a busy nightclub than a pub. Great for hens and stags, younger people and Coppers fans….but it wasn’t really our scene, so instead we decided to head down to The Snug, opposite Sean’s Bar. The music here was brilliant, a mix of chart stuff and old Irish tunes. It had a really good atmosphere, great staff and a really fun crowd. Also highly recommended to us down this end of town was the Castle (pub) but we never got a chance, perhaps next time.

How we travelled

Claire very kindly drove us down and back from Dublin, and residents of The Prince of Wales get free car parking. She forgot her wallet in the handy safe so we were able to enjoy the motorway multiple times! The journey should be only approx. 70-75 mins each way though. Sean’s Bar and The Snug are an easy 5-6 minute walk but if it’s cold and you’re wearing heels, you could also get a taxi. We got one back to our hotel on the first night for €5. We walked everywhere else as the hotel was so central.

IMG_8424

Happy travelling!

Claire & Jenny x

 

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