Sleepover: Green Gate

A bed for the night in Donegal

By Geoff Hill
Sunday 29 September 2013 03:11

Where is it?

Ardara, Donegal, on the northern coast of the Malin peninsula. Once you get to Ardara, you will encounter a signpost which is just a green gate on a white board and be winding your way up the leafy lane past the waterfall.

Describe the setting

On a hill overlooking the bay sits a little white cottage surrounded by the outhouses which the owner, Paul Chatenoud, has transformed into cosy bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. On the lawn, rabbits hop to and fro, and in a car park beyond, a mannequin sits in the driving seat of an ancient cabriolet.

Does it have a USP?

The Green Gate is entirely the product of the unique mind of Paul, who studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, then opened a bookshop in Paris. Thirteen years ago, he came to Donegal, saw the cottage on a Wednesday, bought it on a Thursday, flew back to Paris on a Friday, sold the bookshop and created the quirkiest and most hospitable b&b in Ireland. Guests have been known to come for one night and stay for 12.

Comfort factor?

Spartan but comfortable. As you cross the rugs on the stone floor and climb into a big double bed, you can click off the lights designed by Paul's son and fall asleep by the light of the moon dancing on the bay below.

What's in the bathroom?

A little sign above the sink saying not to worry that the water's brown: it's just the peat. Don't expect power showers and a bath that fills in a flash. You're in Donegal, where the feeling is "Mañana, mañana" but without the same sense of urgency.

I'm hungry

Brace yourself, then, for Paul's mighty breakfasts, complete with 15 homemade jams and marmalades, and bread from Gallagher's bakery down in the village. For the evening, Paul will give you a lift to L'Atlantique restaurant, which during the summer serves up the finest French country cooking this side of Bordeaux. Starters are €3.30 (£2.30) to €8.90 (£6.20), and main courses €12.70 (£8.80) to €25.90 (£17.95).

What are the people like?

Paul could talk the hind legs off a whole herd of donkeys. You will sit down for breakfast at the musical table in the morning, and find that you are still there at three in the afternoon.

Local interest

Ardara is a centre for tweeds and Aran sweaters, both of which can be bought locally, and the Heritage Centre on Main Street tells the history of tweed in the area. The village has 13 pubs.

Access for all?

Fear not, The Green Gate is not multistorey.

What's the damage?

Standard double rooms are €60 (£42). The honeymoon suite is €80 (£56).


The Green Gate, Ardara, Co Donegal (00 353 75 41546).

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