Welcome to Charming Places — a series in which I’ll talk about the places I stay. From B&B’s, hotels and guesthouses to apartments and farm stays, I’ll give my honest thoughts on these spaces. I’ve found that the accommodation I choose to stay often directly affects how I feel about a particular destination. And how I connect with that location and its people. So I want to share these places with you by giving you my opinions.
The Whins was the place. I finally found a place for my stay in the little town of Dunfanaghy in northern County Donegal, Ireland.
Finding a place to stay for 2 weeks over the Easter holiday had been a challenge. But I got lucky getting one of my top 3 choices with the dates that worked best for my schedule.
And it’s very budget-friendly.
I emailed back and forth with John Sweeney, the owner, just to confirm price, dates and my arrival time. And I had a good vibe about him and the B&B from these exchanges. I knew it was going to be one of the best places to stay in Donegal.
The Whins is just a little under 1km from the town center of Dunfanaghy.
So when I arrived in Dunfanaghy I took my time driving through the town to see what was there. It was a bright, sunny Saturday so the town was busy.
I slowly drove out of the main part of town, keeping my eyes open for The Whins on the right side of the road.
Well I missed it.
So I drove to the next settlement of Portnablagh where I turned around and headed back.
This time I saw it and carefully drove up the hill. It’s a curved, somewhat steep hill to get up to The Whins so be careful.
I parked and rang the bell. John promptly greeted me.
Now John is probably 60-something and has beautiful blue eyes and dimples that rival my mom’s. I kept thinking that she would have commented on those dimples and would have loved John.
My room was on the ground floor and in the front of the house — a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because I did have some views. It’s the only room to face the front of the house. The sea is just across the road and a short walk past the golf course and sand dunes.
The curse is that there’s a street light on the main road near the house. So that light came through the curtains at night. And I’m a light sleeper.
Nothing to be done about it.
Other than that the room was great. Maybe a little small for a 2 week stay, but it was just me.
It was all done in blues with a sea theme — lots of lighthouses and seashells.
The bed was comfy with a luscious comforter to keep me warm. It was still quite chilly in this part of Ireland in mid-April.
John gave me loads of information on the area, some of which I knew about from the research I had done. This is why I chose Dunfanaghy as my base for 2 weeks of exploring Donegal. There’s just so much to do nearby.
For breakfast you get a sheet with the choices on it.
Lots of yummy options to choose from.
Simply make your choice and put your name and room number on it and leave it just outside the breakfast room on the upper floor.
And the breakfast room is lovely!
There are fabulous views across the road to the local golf course and the beach and the sea beyond. Kilahooey Beach is the town beach and it’s a beauty.
The Whins is ideally situated to walk to the beach. And it’s also ideal for being close to town while not being right in the heart of the hustle and bustle that Dunfanaghy can have on a holiday weekend.
I had some lovely walks to town and back, walking safely on the wide shoulder near the B&B and then on a sidewalk as I got closer to town. It’s well lit so no worries about coming back in the dark.
I met Barbara, John’s American wife.
We hit it off instantly.
She’s definitely an East Coaster. We talked about anything and everything. I love her!
Breakfast is wonderful.
As a non-meat eater I had eggs several times. And Barbara even offered up some gluten-free bread as I needed to avoid the lovely brown Irish bread that I love. It gets to be too much for my gluten-sensitive belly.
The best part of breakfast is the huge fruit bowl that is out each morning. I love having a big bowl of fresh fruit and The Whins has one of the best I’ve ever seen and tasted. I’m pretty sure some of the other guests wondered if there would be any fruit left for them.
The second best part of breakfast is the people.
John and Barbara both are great with names. Usually John would come out with the food as Barbara was busy in the kitchen. He always used people’s names when addressing them — asking them how they were that morning.
And he was great at introducing guests to each other.
I had some wonderful conversations with other guests at The Whins. John and Barbara really make you feel like a guest in their home (it is their home). They love to see their guests interacting with each other, sharing stories and information. There’s a welcoming and jovial vibe to the place — and I credit John and Barbara for this.
My room was really cozy and felt like home.
The only thing missing for this digital nomad was a desk. But I managed.
I did see the other rooms and some of them were a tad bit bigger than mine. But mine was bright and had some views.
I always had a carafe of water — ice water! — in the room as well. It was a nice touch.
And the wifi worked well which, for me, was very important.
John and Barbara keep the place clean and tidy — something else I really appreciate.
Since I was there for 2 weeks, I told Barbara not to worry about coming in each day.
But she would, to empty the trash and make my bed — except for the time I left my laptop and notebooks all over it! She told me she wouldn’t touch it and I appreciated that.
She even did my laundry for me — twice. No charge!
I tried to give her money but she said that there is no place in town to do laundry and that she was doing washing anyway.
It was truly like being with family.
And each afternoon, you’ll find a plate of cookies in the breakfast room for tea time.
They keep a little area for tea in the room so you can help yourself to a cup of tea. Mugs and spoons are provided as is milk and sugar. There is regular tea along with some herbal teas. And John will make a fire for you in the fireplace if you want. He had one going in the mornings for me. I’m always cold.
I truly enjoyed my time at The Whins.
It’s homey, comfortable, welcoming and in a fabulous location.
The food is really good.
And the hosts, John and Barbara, are some of the best I’ve ever had.
In fact as I left, there were hugs.
Would I stay there again?
In a heartbeat.
It’s one of the best places to stay in Donegal. In fact, it’s one of the best places to stay in Ireland!