Open since 1965, this impressive hotel overlooking the Killarney Lakes may now be over fifty years old, but it was exceptionally well built and has been so well maintained through the years that it has continued to outshine many a new top level hotel.
However, never satisfied with anything but the absolute best, in recent years the proprietors have carried out major renovations and upgrades, including adding a superb spa and a state-of-the-art conference and events centre.
The impressively spacious public areas – glass walled to make full use of the hotel’s wonderful location - are contemporary, yet the style is elegant, comfortable and in no way competing with the setting, which is emphatically the star here.
Bedrooms are renowned for their generous space, quality furnishings, beautiful views and balconies all along the lake side of the hotel; furnished in a striking contemporary style, they are very chic.
Housekeeping is exemplary and, perhaps unexpectedly, this is a very family-friendly hotel.
Leisure facilities include the stunning 50,000 sq ft spa and leisure facility, ESPA at The Europe, including 16 treatment rooms. Also the Active Level which is complimentary to guests and includes use of the 20m indoor pool, sauna, steam room, vitality pool, salt water pool, ice fountain, lifestyle showers and relaxation areas.
Other activities are also offered, including two indoor tennis courts and the Europe's own Austrian Halfinger ponies for use within the hotel grounds, also complimentary to guests.
Golf is, of course, a major attraction here: the three Killarney golf courses - Killeen, Mahony’s Point and Lackabane – adjoin the grounds, and the two nine hole courses, Dunloe and Ross, are nearby.
The hotel’s continental connections show clearly in the style throughout but especially, perhaps, when it comes to food - breakfast, for example, which is served in the Panorama Restaurant, is an impressive hot and cold buffet.
Head chef Alex Nahke has responsibility for food in all areas of the hotel, including the smart modern Brasserie Bar (with terrace for outdoor dining) which is open all day from mid morning through to late evening, and the large and aptly-named Panorama Restaurant where breakfast and dinner are served. The Spa Café offers healthy, seasonal menus and is a popular meeting place for lunch and light meals in the afternoon.
It’s worth breakfasting or dining early to get a window table in this wonderful, aptly named restaurant - full wall to ceiling windows on three sides allow magnificent views over the lakes and mountains. And there’s no doubt that the food lives up to its surroundings. The evening menu is impressive, with enticing choices such as artichoke panna cotta with brown butter gnocchi, apple gel, hazelnuts and summer truffle, or perhaps pressed ham hock terrine with crispy egg yolk, braised trotter tortellini and pea, ham and broad bean consommé among the seven starters.
Local produce stars in main dishes such as roast loin of Kerry venison served with Caherbeg black pudding, boulangère potatoes, red onion marmalade and thyme crumb, and roast striploin of local Dexter beef with slow cooked rib, carrot purée, baby carrots and coffee gel. And, of course, there is a good choice of local fish and shellfish in season – oysters, scallops, halibut and cod are just a few among the many choices usually available.
Desserts are special and indulgent - rosemary flavoured white chocolate mousse, for example, with apricot espuma, lime and thyme sponge and yoghurt sorbet; or perhaps a rich chocolate tart with mango and passionfruit sorbet. But don't overlook the Irish cheese selection - St. Kevin Brie, Mossfield Gouda, Dilliskus, Oak Smoked Gubbeen, Knockdrinna Gold Goats Cheese, Bluebell Falls and Kearney Blue Cheese are among those likely to feature on the cheese platter which offers four cheeses, grapes, oat biscuits and peppered fig bread and is excellent value.
The Brasserie Bar
This bar and restaurant, off the main foyer, has a wonderful outdoor terrace for al fresco meals. The daytime menu offers interesting casual dining, while evening meals feature steaks and burgers from the grill, and also the delicious Europe Seafood Platter with grilled fish, Spillane’s smoked salmon, crab cocktail, garlic prawns, seared scallop, rock oyster, roast whole langoustine.