The comfort of a fire at the Listowel Arms

Appreciating cozy spots to decompress during cold and rainy days

It’s hard to imagine what’s better than a toasty fire, reading material, and a drink on a rainy evening. Obviously, great company and a sleeping baby also help.

One of my all-time favorite spots is the Listowel Arms Hotel in Co. Kerry, Ireland. A few months after our wedding in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we celebrated again with a family gathering at the Listowel Arms with Sean’s extensive extended family and my parents and brother making the trip over too. The staff at the Arms was lovely and we enjoyed our few days as guests rather than visitors. Here’s a snapshot from the local newspaper, Kerry’s Eye:


The Listowel Arms hosts the annual Writers’ Week festival, usually at the end of May. The festival punches far outside its’ weight class with impressive speakers and events geared toward writers, both seasoned and new. Most of the time, it’s a laid-back spot with plenty of room to sit and work  with reliable wifi, which isn’t common in the area. And their daily soups, always vegetarian, are divine, not to mention their brown bread.

The kicker is their fireplace, which is lit most months of the year and is a perfect writing (or drinking) companion. I like to imagine a world where every town has its Listowel Arms—a place for locals and tourists alike to congregate and collide.

Many people don’t realize that most hotels have common areas that are mostly open to the public. There are some, like the Ace Hotel in New York City, that once were open and welcoming to all but that now only allow most spaces for hotel guests. Luckily, plenty still are open for a quick rest or a longer one in the lobby. Many have cozy sitting areas that double as bars or cafes, so you can take your time and watch the world go by.

It’s quite wonderful to find a favorite spot or two, like the Listowel Arms, instead of trying to do and see it all while on vacation. Mark down the names of places you find and details about what you did so you can share tips with friends, or better yet, return one day. Chances are the details will drift soon enough from memory otherwise, though there’s nothing wrong with a hazy memory of a fire, a frosty beer, and a great book.



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