I had the chance, when I was a journalist, to review some fabulous hotels. Five-star properties are designed to give you princess treatment and usually, for the prices they charge, that’s the least you can expect.
But for a hotel, it’s rare that you feel not just spoiled like a princess, but utterly and utterly blown away. Adare Manor, a sprawling, 19e Century castle hotel near Limerick on the west coast of Ireland, is such a place.
With a river running through the sprawling, immaculately manicured 842-acre estate – it’s an acre less than Central Park for scale – and medieval ruins dotted across the grounds, Adare has all the magic of a fairy tale castle. fairies. And from the minute you complete the winding driveway to be greeted at the entrance by green-smeared doormen holding brand ‘A’ umbrellas, to the moment you leave with little boxes of homemade sweets, the Adare experience is 10/10 stellar.
Where is he?
The hotel is a 25 minute drive from Shannon International Airport, 1.5 hours from Cork Airport and 2.5 hours from Dublin Airport. Situated in the heart of the picturesque village of Adare, the hotel is a 30-minute drive from Limerick city.
The property was originally the family seat of the 2nd Earl of Dunraven, who spent 30 years transforming it from a classic Georgian mansion on the banks of the Maigue into the romantic neo-Gothic gem that is Adare Manor. It remained the home of successive generations of the Dunraven family until the 1980s when Adare Manor was sold and converted into one of Ireland’s finest five star hotels. An example of a rare ‘House of the Calendar’, the main building is adorned with 365 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, 7 stone pillars and 4 towers to mark the annual count of days, weeks and seasons.
The property reopened in November 2017 following a multi-million pound restoration project – the largest of its kind in Ireland – which modernized interiors while honoring its heritage, and added a new wing of 42 rooms, with ballroom and a brand new spa.
The interiors cleverly and sensitively balance glamor and modernity with the property’s traditional features. Old-fashioned family portraits, quirky (and impossibly beautiful) red marble fireplaces, and 130-year-old oak paneling sit beautifully alongside shimmering modern chandeliers, sleek upholstery in gray and pastel hues, and papers Custom silk paintings which, on closer inspection, feature prints inspired by life on the estate.
The restoration was painstakingly carried out with immaculate sensitivity and attention to detail, with no replicas used. The original oak floors, made from trees from the estate, are retained, as are the original stained glass windows from the 1830s.
The property has 104 rooms, including the existing 62 rooms in the Mansion and River Wing, and the brand new 42-room West Wing.
All rooms have king-size beds, private marble bathrooms with rain showers, and fully stocked free minibars. They all come with Acqua di Parma toiletries, ridiculously soft bathrobes, a bowl of fresh fruit, and fresh flowers.
For a truly magical experience, book one of the Dunraven Cabins, located in the original mansion building and approximately 70 square meters of space overlooking the incredible, manicured rose gardens. There, 19th century artwork and mahogany furniture sit alongside brand new deeply luxurious king-size beds, a desk and sitting area and a beautiful original pink marble fireplace. For some serious indulgence, book a Signature Suite, each of which comes with its own mansion butler, on hand to ensure you truly feel like the king or queen of the castle.
With four restaurants on the property, guests are spoiled for dining choices.
Breakfasts are served in the oak-panelled gallery, an impressive space 40 meters long and 11 meters high under the ceiling inspired by the great hall of mirrors at Versailles with stained glass windows and the possibility of comfortable seating on a sofa. It’s mostly a la carte, with a varied menu catering to all moods and levels of hangover: from delicious wellness shots and granola to full English breakfasts, the house hash browns are a must. A daily afternoon tea is also served here and can be booked for non-guests.
For lunch, there are two main options. The Drawing Room, where an elegant menu of light snacks like crabmeat toast, soup and pasta are served in a glamorous high-ceilinged room overlooking the manicured gardens. Or for something more substantial, walk five minutes to the more modern Carriage House, a light and airy barn-style space designed by studio David Collins. This bright dining room overlooks the green (and it’s where rounds of golf reserve for lunch) and features marble tables, an open kitchen, and hanging plants. There is an adjoining bar and cozy area, a cigar lounge and a golf pro shop on site. The menu has something for everyone: from great superfood salads and pasta to steak and Beyond Burgers. There’s an impressive wine list, super friendly staff, and very popular Sunday roasts.
The Carriage House is perfect for more relaxed dining, but for serious foodies (or those looking for a celebratory dinner), the hotel’s Michelin-starred Oak Room restaurant is not to be missed.
Led by Chef Michael Tweedie, the menu specializes in elegant and unpretentious fine dining with an emphasis on sustainably sourced seafood and premium Irish meats and game. That said, vegans and vegetarians are sublimely welcomed. The decor is green in color and traditional yet elegant – ask for a table in the veranda, which has a magical view of the park. Jonathan the sommelier recently arrived after a four-year stint at Noma, and the wine pairing is worth the extra expense for his insight and humor alone.
No evening in Adare would be complete without a nightcap in the Tack Room, an underground speakeasy bar that has a members club atmosphere and dangerously talented mixologists. Be careful, they stay open as long as you keep drinking.
People often say that hotels have extensive facilities and you’ll never be bored…but in Adare’s case, it really is.
The property is nestled amongst the greens of a world-class golf course. And it really is world class. Hotel owner John Patrick McManus is a best friend of Tiger Woods who consulted on his redesign, for which they convinced best-in-class golf course designer Tom Fazio to come out of retirement to design the new 18-hole, par 72 golf course. Since its reopening, the course has been advertised as the venue for hosting the 2022 JP McManus Pro-Am and the 2027 Ryder Cup.
But it is much more than a golf hotel. It is a spa hotel, a paradise for fitness fanatics and an outdoor adventure wonderland.
First, the spas. Yes, there is more than one. The quirky spa on the ground floor of the main hotel building is a serene space featuring five treatment rooms, a gorgeous relaxation room with heated beds, a beautiful eight-metre pool overlooking the rushing river (doors open open on it in summer) and a sauna.
Skincare brand 111 Skin took over the hotel’s treatments last year (making it the first spa in Ireland to offer treatments from the brand), meaning facials are as professional and efficient as anything you will find in Mayfair. Opt for the new Rose Gold Radiance facial (€360 for 150 minutes) and your skin will be soothed and pampered with an enzyme cleanser, rose quartz crystal massage, unlimited moisturizing lotions and potions, all complemented by a gold leaf treatment mask. A truly indulgent and highly effective hydrating facial to restore your glow after too many martinis in the tack room.
The padel club
The second (and larger) 17-meter pool and sauna area is located in the Padel Club, a super-sleek building a three-minute walk from the main property cleverly built, in 2021, to disappear among the surrounding trees. Here you will find an expansive swimming pool with jacuzzi and rain shower with magical views, via floor-to-ceiling windows, of the surrounding forest. There’s also a sauna and steam room, plenty of lounge chairs, and sleek locker rooms with Aromatherapy Associates products in the showers.
There is a simulation golf and putting studio and a wonderful pilates, yoga and barre studio, and the Padel Club, as its name suggests, is also home to two padel courts, the only indoor courts in Ireland . A cross between tennis and squash but easier to master than both, padel is the fastest growing sport in the world. And with super fun instructors on hand to teach you a lesson, it’s not to be missed.
Activities in the field
A walk along one of the walking paths through the park will lead to walled gardens, a dovecote, a hunting lodge and immaculate parklands, where thousands of mature, wooded trees were planted during the renovation. The Ogham Stones are well worth a stroll to see: stone monuments displaying an ancient Irish written language (Ogham alphabet) dating from the 4th and 6th centuries.
For anyone in the mood for something more adventurous, the hotel offers falconry, archery, skeet shooting, cycling, horse and carriage rides and fishing on the Maigue River.
You will never be bored in Adare and you will never want to leave.
Rooms at the Adare start at €550 per room, per night for a Classic room, breakfast included; adaremanor.com/