Bellinter House is an elegant Palladian gem that’s been transformed into a chic Meath bolthole. Designed by Richard Cassels (Carton, Russborough, Powerscourt, Leinster Houses) it’s set on the banks of the River Boyne in 12 acres of parkland near Navan, less than an hour from Dublin and Dublin Airport.
The interior has been restored with meticulous attention to the architectural integrity of the building, but with an original, contemporary twist. Public rooms include the fanciful Drawing Room tricked out with retro furnishings, worn floorboards, grand old fireplaces and huge windows commanding views of the rolling countryside.
All day dining is available there, including excellent afternoon tea, which is popular with the locals. The Games Room and Library are relaxing spaces packed with board games and books, while the small Bellinter Bar is perfect for ‘pints and cocktails’; bar food is available any time.
A cosy Wine Bar in the basement, which is adjacent to the restaurant, offers an interesting, competitively priced wine-list. Outdoors, when the weather permits, the terraces and lawns are ideal for dining al fresco.
Accommodation, in 34 individually styled rooms, is divided between the Main House (capacious and extravagant), East and West Wings (modest in size) and several restored outbuildings (charming and chic).
Though all rooms feature luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets, goose down pillows, centrally controlled mood lighting, and Italian multi-media 40” plasma screens – and the complimentary cafetière coffee, selection of teas, bottle of milk and tea cakes is especially thoughtful - the eclectic mix of hand made and old furniture doesn’t always work in harmony (and some of the high-tech items may not function).
The bathrooms are spacious and beautiful, but, while most have a full bath and/or power showers, some are shower only, so it’s best to establish which you’re being allocated when you book. The Voya certified organic seaweed toiletries are especially nice, and reflect the speciality seaweed baths on offer in the hotel’s spa.
While Bellinter is a romantic destination for a short break, there are aspects of the operation that some guests may be less than happy with including the fact that it can seem overpriced for the standards offered. However, even the most curmudgeonly guest would have to admit that the Spa is the jewel in its crown. It’s top class, really well run and offers excellent value for money. The pool house is a glamorous contemporary add on, with a glass wall overlooking the countryside and a beautiful infinity pool.
An outdoor hot tub beneath trees is also an appealing facility, although it has never been in operation during the Guide’s visits.
The gardener does a good job outdoors, but the lack of attention to the driveway and grounds around the house can give a bad impression.
Fishing on adjoining Boyne; overlooks Royal Tara Golf Club grounds, spa, massage, indoor and outdoor pool, leisure centre, walking, cycling, fly-fishing, pool table.
Small Conferences/Banqueting (42/124), secretarial services, free broadband wi/fi; children welcome (under 6s free in parents room, cots available free of charge, baby sitting arranged).
Rooms 34 (19 shower only, 5 family, 7 ground floor); all day room service. B&B room rate from about €138
This elegant restaurant is in a vaulted basement with natural daylight, and has well spaced tables, leather swivel chairs and an unusual mustard carpet with discreet graphics that evoke the nearby Hill of Tara.
The menu reflects this modern decor, with quality fresh produce used imaginatively in contemporary combinations and an affordable wine list, although some dishes may overlap with the daytime menu which can be disappointing for guests who have arrived in time for a bar lunch and are also dining in.
Service is generally friendly and informed, ensuring both residents and non-residents have a relaxing experience.