“It’s 842 acres; one less than Central Park ”, explains Seán Mulcahy, the receptionist of the Villa who welcomes us to Adare Manor.
s staycation bubbles disappear, this layover in Co Limerick can top them all. Not content with a multi-million dollar makeover before the pandemic, he’s back with a new “Padel Club” – an extravagant cedar-covered spaceship from a recreation center in the woods. His restaurant has a Michelin star, the Ryder Cup kicks off in 2027 and the lavish “A” monogram is everywhere. If six stars were one thing, I assure you, he would have them.
This magnificent gated exclusivity has a price, of course. With no foreign visitors to speak of, summer 2021 offers more availability for Irish guests looking to splurge or celebrate special occasions, but B&B rates start from € 725. The question I am often asked: is it worth it?
Arrival and location
Adare is one of Ireland’s worst traffic bottlenecks, but once you’re done with that, and polite but closed security, it’s onward to another universe.
Hunting dog demonstrations are underway on the lawns; golf balls fall on smooth greens like pool tables. Inside the main house, settings like the Great Hall and the Gallery are a delicious mix of Hogwarts and Downton Abbey, with hiding places like the Tack Room bar or the tasteful spa, providing nooks for decadence. and be pampered.
It’s a romance that is both neat and natural – somewhere you might spot a red squirrel or a jay followed by a guest arriving by helicopter or an influencer having a picnic.
“Here, we are spoiled”, confides Liam Forde, who takes us in a falconry experience (240 € for two) culminating with an eagle flying around the walled garden. Horse-drawn carriage rides, archery, fishing and shooting are other activities to try.
I would love a lot more access along the river (it’s mostly just for golfers), but you can see why a lot of patrons are sticking around, not wishing to burst the bubble.9.5 / 10
Service & style
Staffing is the hot topic of hospitality so it’s reassuring that everyone we meet feels like they’ve been back for months. The staff carry their work lightly, from the porters who hand us bikes to the sommelier who offers an Albariño riding on two fish dishes (“It’s like you’re at the seaside”). The playlists that rock us in the Carriage House and living rooms have a touch of elevator music, but overall the tone is graceful and well judged.
After it reopened in 2017, many guests commented on the resort’s small pool (including myself). He responded with the new Padel Club. The resort won’t say how much it costs, but upon entering a moody-lit reception with living moss panels on the walls, the McManus family’s commitment to the motto “Beyond Everything” is light.
The pool is a form-fitting mosaic beauty, ending in an infinity edge with windows facing the forest. Padel Tennis (from € 110 for four) is like a mix of tennis and squash – we get a lesson on the indoor courts from manager Gerry O’Halloran, using the walls to spray balls and trigger muscles lost during the locking. It’s chic and weird, but it’s undeniably craic.
We’re also trying out the TruGolf simulator with its TrackMan 4 launch monitor in a room that looks like a private cinema, though our embarrassing efforts here make it clear why we’re not getting close to the actual course. 9/10
Did you know that Adare Manor is independent? Renovated mansions and two storybook-worthy stone cottages can be found near the Carriage House, a short walk from the mansion. Jumbo beds with goose-down duvets, marble-floor bathrooms, and an understated, country-style vibe in the Rose Cottage, where we stay, easily complement the rooms in the main house (though the suites are still the first choice for a splash).
There was no Netflix or TV streaming for Apple devices, and I’d rather see an alternative to mini toiletries, but those are really little notes. Swinging in the softest, most luxurious dresses I have ever pulled from a wardrobe, we felt like we were born in the mansion. 9/10
The Oak Room is Adare Manor’s flagship dining experience, a fairly exquisite mix of tasting menus and theater overseen by Chef Mike Tweedie. Our meal begins with a hand sanitizer brought in steaming oyster shells, and continues with a course after a course of food and wine pairing at nightfall on the Maigue River.
Highlights include a dried wild boar consomme with a parmesan raviolo and Doonbeg crab in a zucchini flower in a basil bouillabaisse. Menus start at € 100 per person and you’ll have to prepare for a meal that takes hours. Not everyone enjoys this difficult style of dining, but it is well executed.
For us a big surprise is the Carriage House. I expected a decent clubby rate, but the space, dinner, and service combine to make for a really enjoyable second night at around half the price. The bedroom feels comfortable in Covid; it is large and leafy, with high ceilings and large windows with black steel screens. On the menu, scallops in lemongrass and hazelnut juice (€ 23) and monkfish topped with crispy chicken crumbs (€ 32). 8.5 / 10
The bottom line
So, is it worth it? The answer is relative: is it worth traveling first class, buying a Fendi handbag, or staying at Ashford Castle or Ballyfin? If you can afford it, the quality is supreme. The McManus family set out to transform Adare Manor into one of the best resorts in Europe, and they did. Checking in, I tell Seán Mulcahy that we feel spoiled. “Of course, that’s what we’re doing here,” he replies.
Bed and breakfast prices drop briefly to € 550 per night on certain dates in October and November. Let’s call it a relative affair.
Eat outside the complex? Try Wade and Elaine Murphy’s 1826 in Adare, or the new Treehouse cabins at nearby Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel.
B&B from € 725 per room, with three-bed cottages from € 1,700 per night (two nights minimum). adaremanor.com
Pól was a guest of the complex.