On the edge of the town and set well back from the road, this is a hotel with a difference: how many hotels have a welcoming array of exotic animals like Jacobs sheep and alpacas grazing in grassy enclosures? Beside them, a well laid out (and well lit) car park is set in neatly landscaped gardens, all sending out the right messages to arriving guests.
The Byrne family's modern hotel offers something for everyone: locals clearly enjoy the good food served in the Bistro, bar and café, while visitors also have very comfortable accommodation - and the Revive treatment rooms offer relaxation and pampering to all.
Check-in, in the bright, comfortably furnished atrium lobby, is a pleasure for both business and leisure guests, thanks to the efficiency and helpfulness of friendly receptionists who explain the hotel's amenities and activities, quickly making everyone feel at home.
Bedrooms - which include some suites and family rooms - are large and well-appointed, with very comfortable big beds (5ft and 6ft depending on room type, including some four-posters) and all of the expected facilities, including flat screen TV, broadband, safe, iron and trouser press and tea/coffee making. Rooms are very clean and well maintained - and, unusually, the family rooms are big enough for a couple with four children.
Bailey’s Bar and Bistro
Good food is a highlight of a stay at this pleasant hotel, and it is obviously appreciated by local diners too, as both restaurant and bar tables are likely to be fully occupied at lunchtime and on most evenings.
Both the bar and the Bistro are comfortable rooms, with windows overlooking the car park (and those exotic animals). A set dinner menu, a Bistro Menu and daily specials are offered, and local produce is highlighted.
While all the usual crowd pleasers are included, there are other interesting dishes too, such as crisp fried Wicklow Bawn brie (made near Arklow) or perhaps warm Goatsbridge smoked trout (from Co Kilkenny). The Bistro menu includes a Power Salad (kale, spinach and rocket leaves with sprouting broccoli, avocado, sweet potato, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with a lemon and chia seed dressing), available in two sizes, 290 calories or the 520 calories.
Mains on the set menu may well include the famous Kildare lamb - a well flavoured spiced rump with black olive and tomato tapenade, perhaps, served with celery mash and a red wine infusion. Bistro mains may include Hereford steaks or perhaps crisp pork belly with Jane Russell’s black pudding.
But do leave space for one of the tempting desserts – a wicked double chocolate and praline mousse with mango purée, perhaps, or (making a deserved comeback) an old-fashioned baked Alaska.
Lunch offers lighter bites, including the power salad or fish cakes, and mains such as fish and chips as well as the daily specials.
Everything is accurately cooked, correctly seasoned and well presented - and, with well-paced service to match the confident cooking, the knowledgeable and friendly staff make eating here a pleasure. It's good value too, so its popularity is very easy to understand.
* There's live music in the bar every Saturday night (from 10.30pm) and on Bank Holiday Sundays; also traditional music on Wednesdays with Barley Wine in summer (May-Sep, 9-11pm), when a special main course with craft beer is offered at just €15.