We recently chatted to Tiffany McKay, owner of Twilight Coffee and Bunkhouse, about why you should swing by this great coffee spot in Carnlough this summer.
So Tiffany, tell us your story.
In 2017, my husband, Robert, and I were transitioning to Northern Ireland from Houston, Texas, to be closer to Robert’s family in Carnlough. He wanted to help his parents out with their caravan park, and we were looking for opportunities to get involved in tourism in other ways as well. We had a few ideas, and when our building came up for sale, we started making more concrete plans.
Given the building’s brilliant location and surprising size, we settled on the idea of budget accommodation and a specialty coffee shop. As more and more people start to include Carnlough and the Glens of Antrim in their travel plans (with good reason!), we wanted to create a spot for locals, day trippers, and people on longer holidays. After a two-year journey, we opened Twilight Coffee & Bunkhouse in October 2019!
What does your bunkhouse offer to those wanting to explore the Northern Irish outdoors?
We love outdoorsy, active holidays ourselves, and our aim at Twilight was to create the sort of accommodation that we seek out on our own travels. Most importantly, we’ve got the location—as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Glens of Antrim are perfect for walkers, hikers, and trekkers looking for a variety of trails with interesting terrain and unparalleled vistas.
As for the bunkhouse itself, it’s newly renovated to be bright, stylish, and modern. We understand not wanting to spend a ton of money on accommodation when what you need is a restful night’s sleep and a good shower to get you ready for a day of exploring. That’s exactly what we offer at Twilight—clean, comfortable accommodation with no unnecessary extras bundled into the price.
And what about the coffee shop? What do you serve there?
Our focus in the coffee shop is high quality specialty coffees and locally baked goods. Our beans come from Bailies Coffee Roasters in Belfast, and we love working with them. We’re able to offer gorgeous specialty coffee, and it’s great to know that they source their beans ethically (including direct trade coffee).
In addition to our regular house espresso and filter brew, we also like to keep things interesting with different microlot roasts on rotation. We source our baked goods from bakers in the local area, with fresh items delivered daily. The Victoria Sponge is a favourite, as are our scones. While we’re not serving hot food at the moment, we do have plans to expand our menu in the future, so keep an eye on our social media accounts!
What are the main attractions/sights nearby?
We’re located right across from the picturesque Carnlough Harbour, and our claim to fame is that it was used as a Game of Thrones filming location (the Braavos Canal where Arya Stark climbed out of the water). Carnlough also has a beautiful beach within walking distance, as well as lovely hikes up to the Cranny Waterfall, the old quarry, and the hidden loughs in the hills above our village. We’ve pulled together information about lots of local attractions in Carnlough, as well as in the surrounding towns & villages, up the Causeway Coastal Route, and in Belfast. You can check out our full list of recommendations here.
Is Twilight suitable for families?
We are perfect for families! In the bunkhouse upstairs, our private rooms sleep 4-5 people each with private ensuites, and the dorm rooms sleep 6 each for larger family groups. Our coffee shop was nominated for awards with the North Coast Parents organisation in 2020 (Best New Business, Best Customer Service, and Best Family-Friendly Café).
Your canine family members are also welcome in the coffee shop, either in a designated area downstairs or at any of our outdoor seating.
And how private is it for those staying?
The bunkhouse is located upstairs, and only overnight guests have a key to access that part of the building. Private rooms include an ensuite. Dorm room guests will have access to individual bathrooms located down the hall from their rooms. All bunkhouse guests have access to a shared kitchen, and after coffee shop hours, the sunroom and courtyard downstairs will be exclusively available to them. After hours access to the property is secured by a gate with a passcode.
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As the owner, what’s your favourite thing about it?
Our favourite part of Twilight is the people, hands down! It has become such a social hub in the short time it’s been open, and we love getting the chance to chat with locals and visitors alike. It’s been wonderful to see groups of people using Twilight in different ways—for example, we get friends meeting up over a cup of coffee (or two!), local cycling and walking groups stopping in for a break, athletics clubs basing themselves in the bunkhouse for local competitions, and foreign backpackers staying for a night or two during their trips up and down the coast.
Finally, why should visitors choose it as their accommodation?
In addition to some of the reasons we’ve already talked about (our incredible location, newly-renovated building, budget-conscious pricing, and family-/group-friendly setup), we hope potential guests will see that we have a real passion for what we’re doing at Twilight. As keen travellers, we know what good customer service looks like, and we’re committed to making sure our guests have the best possible experience.
And as Carnlough locals (one native and one imported from Texas), we genuinely love this part of the world. We recognise that it’s often overlooked, with travellers rushing straight through from Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway. That’s why we created Twilight right here in the Glens—we offer the ideal base for visitors to stop and stay a little longer to explore the hidden gems that can be found along the Antrim Coast.
Interested in having your business featured on Trek NI? Contact us to find out how.