The origins of Straffan House go back a long way - the history is known as far back as 550 AD - but it was the arrival of the Barton wine family in 1831 that established the tone of today’s magnificent building, by giving it a distinctively French elegance.
The Smurfit Group opened it as an hotel in 1991. Set in lush countryside, and overlooking formal gardens and its own pair of championship golf courses, the hotel boasts unrivalled opulence; the interior is magnificent, with superb furnishings and a wonderful collection of original paintings by famous artists, including Jack B.Yeats, who has a room devoted to his work – weekend art/history tours are offered.
All suites and guest rooms are individually designed in the grand style, with sumptuous bathrooms, superb amenities and great attention to detail. Ahead of the 2006 Ryder Cup, major developments were undertaken by the hotel, including a new bedroom extension, an extension to the Byerley Turk Restaurant, and a spa.
Although most famous for its golf, the hotel also offers river fishing for salmon and trout and coarse fishing with a choice of five stocked lakes (equipment bait and tackle provided; tuition available). For guests interested in horticulture there is a mapped garden walk, with planting details, and there are weekend tours of the wine cellar, led by the hotel’s highly-respected sommelier, Lisa O’Doherty.
On-site amenities include: swimming pool; spa; tennis; walking; fishing; cycling; equestrian. Snooker; pool table. 24 hour concierge; 24 hour room service; twice daily housekeeping. Rooms 92. Lift. Room rate from about €280.
The River Room:
This is the K Club’s premier restaurant and, beside it, a pleasantly clubby bar opens onto an elegant terrace with a distinctly French tone - here, on fine summer evenings, guests can consider menus over an aperitif and admire the golf course across the river before heading in to the restaurant, where tall, dramatically draped windows, marble columns, paintings of racehorses, tables laden with crested china, monogrammed white linen, gleaming crystal and silver are all designed to impress.
Executive Head Chef, Finbarr Higgins, is commited to using the best of local and estate-grown produce, and all the little touches - a complimentary amuse-bouche, home-made petits fours with the coffee - that make a special dining experience memorable will be in place.
He offers a Tasting Menu (€160 per person, served to a full table), based on The Market, The Sea, The Land and The Season, and a wide-ranging à la carte offers many luxurious dishes - a starter of slow poached terrine of foie gras with Banyuls reduction and baby brioche is typical, for example, and a special main course, ‘An beef Tuath’, is The Ryder Cup signature dish: 2 medallions of Irish beef, shallot and wild mushroom crown, organic carrot with garlic and potato foam, mead sauce (€56).
Unusually, there are two dessert menus, a normal one and a special soufflé menu (takes 20 minutes to prepare).
Service is professional and friendly - and, given the intertwined history of Straffan House and the Barton family, it is appropriate that the Bordeaux Reserve from Barton and Guestier should be the label chosen for the hotel’s house wine, heading up a signature list of 250 wines.