To The Lighthouse: why lighthouse hotel stays are the perfect post-Covid staycations


Lighthouse hotel stays
Courtesy of Clare Island Lighthouse

Beacons of hope across the UK and Ireland’s most breathtaking coastlines

Town & Country Magazine

Always wanted to stay in a lighthouse?

There’s a certain fortitude in lighthouses. Their stark staying power against the fiercest elements makes them destinations that are at once welcoming and inaccessible. Unlike other structures that rise and fall with a change in the wind, lighthouses hold a quiet dignity, standing fast amid the surrounding chaos. With their remote locations, serene surroundings and promise of glorious views, they make the perfect post-Covid destinations.

Here’s a list of a few of my favourite lighthouse hotel stays…


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The best lighthouse hotel stays across the UK and Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Clare Island Lighthouse, Co. Mayo, Republic of Ireland

Clare Island was the home of Ireland’s legendary pirate queen, Grace O’Malley, a contemporary of Elizabeth I, and according to her biographer, the “most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland”.

Wicklow Head, Co. Wicklow, Republic of Ireland

Wicklow Head (from the Viking word ‘Wykylo’, meaning ‘Viking’s Loch’) was one of two lighthouses built on the headland in 1781 to prevent sailors’ confusion with neighbouring beacons. Before electric light and the automation of lighthouses, its octagonal tower was lit with 20 tallow candles reflected against an enormous, silvered mirror.

Scotland

Rua Reidh, Gairloch, Scotland

The great Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson hailed from a family of lighthouse engineers. The ‘Lighthouse Stevensons’ (as the dynasty came to be known) spent 15o years changing the shape of the Scottish coastline, leaving behind them a fleet of architectural and engineering magnificence. Robert’s father and uncle designed Muckle Flugga on Unst, whose theatrical remoteness inspired the Treasure Island map. And it was Robert’s cousin, David Alan Stephenson, who built Rua Reidh in 1912.

Eilean Sionnach, Isleornsay, Scotland

The idea of being marooned on some remote island fills most people with dread; but retreating into tranquillity at Eilean Sionnach is an experience worth relishing.

Wales

West Usk Lighthouse, Newport, Wales

Rumour has it, it was from this very lighthouse that the first glimpse of WWII action was caught in Britain while West Usk was being used as a look-out post.

Llandudno Lighthouse, Llandudno, Wales

The Llandudno Lighthouse was erected within the grounds of the Great Orme Country Park by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company in 1862. The original wood-panelled hallway that still exists was built to give the keepers’ families some space and privacy from one another; now, it provides the same for its guests, as a charming Victorian-style hotel.

England

Belle Tout, Sussex

After almost two centuries of petitioning for a lighthouse along this particularly perilous stretch of coastline, Belle Tout was constructed in 1832. By 1902, however, it had been decommissioned, and a new lighthouse was built at the base of the cliffs. Between 1902 and 2008, the lighthouse passed into different ownerships, used as target shelling practice during WWII by Canadian troops, and moved back 17 metres due to the impending threat of erosion.

Whitby Lighthouse, Yorkshire

It was from Whitby’s harbour that Captain Cook embarked upon his voyage of discovery to Australia aboard HMS Endeavour in 1768. Ninety years later, the architect behind the West Usk Lighthouse also designed Whitby’s white octagonal tower.


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