At the heart of Frank and Mary Slattery’s sensitively extended Victorian house just off the Ring of Kerry lies a hunting lodge once owned by Lord Brocket - and he chose well, as it is very attractive and handsomely set in fine gardens with the lake and mountains providing a dramatic backdrop.
The lake is just at the end of the garden and the house is welcoming and well-maintained, with very friendly and helpful staff (Frank himself carries the luggage to your room) and a relaxed atmosphere, especially in a series of charming sitting rooms where you can chat beside the fire or have a drink before dinner. This is a place where you can lose yourself for hours with a book, or playing chess, cards or board games in the games room, or boating out on the lake.
The best of the large, airy individually decorated bedrooms have lake views, while others have a pleasant outlook over the beautiful gardens. Some have their own patios, and all are furnished with antiques, and have generous, well-designed bathrooms with bath and shower - an impressive Presidential Suite has a sitting room with panoramic views across the lake to the Magillicuddy Reeks, two separate dressing rooms and jacuzzi bath.
The extensive gardens are of great interest too - a map is available, and personalised tours can be arranged.
There are not so many 'proper country houses' like this any more, and this is a lovely serene place to stay – a perfect escape from the modern world.
Rooms 17 (1 suite, 1 junior suite, 14 no smoking, 1 single, 4 ground floor) B&B €75-175 pps, depending on season and room selection; ss €50. Not suitable for children under 8 except small babies (under 1 free of charge, cot available, baby sitting arranged). Dogs allowed in some areas (stay in kennel). Swimming (lake), fishing (ghillie & boat available), walking, garden, croquet. Closed Dec-Feb.
Beautifully situated overlooking the lake, the restaurant is a fine room with well-spaced, elegantly appointed tables and a relaxed atmosphere. With a piano playing softly, a great sense of hospitality and the promise of delicious food to come, this is a very pleasing place to be - and it is open to the public as well as resident guests, which makes for a livelier atmosphere.
A well-designed menu offers a balanced selection based on seasonal local foods but, although the many tempting choices include some unusual dishes (a starter of smoked eel & potato terrine, for example, or a main course of lemon & chilli sesame pork cutlet), it is hard to resist the fresh Kerry seafood - and the specials offered each evening will normally include extra fish and seafood choices too, depending on availability.
The house version of Atlantic seafood chowder makes a good starter after an active day out, or you might try the local Cromane mussels - served classically in a creamy white wine sauce, or given a lift with tomato, basil and chilli - and main courses may include Iveragh salmon and premium fish such as cod or hake, which tend to be cooked in quite a classic style, sometimes with an imaginative twist.
But Kerry lamb is especially appealing to many diners, and a roast rack, served with seasonal accompaniments, is an exceptionally enjoyable dish. Vegetarian choices are also interesting (a tian of cous cous, perhaps, with delicious summer vegetables).
It will pay to plan ahead for dessert, as it would be a shame to miss out on treats like autumn berries crème brulée with cranberry puff twists, or tart tatin of pear & apple with a drizzle of calvados caramel and caramel ice cream.
There’s a very nice wine list (and helpful advice offered) and, after dinner, it’s lovely to be able to have your coffee or tea in a comfy sofa at the fireside.