Renowned in Irish hospitality, the Huggard family celebrate 100 years running hotels in Ireland in 2012 and their history is a proud one. Niall Huggard owns this this stunningly located hotel in Killarney and cousins have the famed Butler Arms Hotel in Waterville, which was a favourite haunt of Charlie Chaplin amongst many others.
The Lake Hotel lays claim to ‘the most beautiful location in Ireland’ and in truth it’s hard to argue with that – it certainly has the prime lakeshore site in the area that is regarded by many as the jewel in Ireland’s scenic crown, and it's adjacent to the National Park and Muckross House.
And, by a happy chance, there’s nobody better qualified than hands-on owner manager Niall Huggard to ensure that the visitor’s experience matches up to the scenery - arriving guests are likely to find him working away quietly at a desk just inside the front door, where he misses nothing.
The heart of the hotel still retains the original Victorian feeling, with open log fires and a double height wood-panelled drawing room complete with wall-mounted antlers looking out over the lake - a comfortable and relaxing place for guests to slow down and drink in the scenery.
Both the restaurant and the adjoining Devil’s Punchbowl bar share the same view – taking in a 12th century castle on the edge of the lake, which is floodlit at night; with long windows along the lake side of the hotel and access to outdoor seating, it’s a very pleasant place to be.
Although parts of the hotel have retained a nice old-fashioned feeling (an atmosphere that goes well with the nice old-fashioned friendliness of the staff), all of the accommodation has been upgraded recently and, as the rooms have been refurbished in a number of different styles, there is something to please all tastes and age groups.
Young couples, for example, will love the Master Deluxe rooms with in-room bath, or the sumptuous Roman theme suites, while the more traditional 4-poster rooms will appeal to romantics of all ages.
The lower key Deluxe and Superior Lakeview rooms, on the other hand, have broad appeal and are extremely comfortable – a nice idea implemented by Niall Huggard was to put mirrors along the back walls, which allows the view to be enjoyed from all angles and also makes the rooms feel very spacious.
There is, of course, masses to do while staying here – there’s a fitness centre and spa on site (but no swimming pool), the hotel is adjacent to Killarney National Park, and the town centre is not far (within walking distance in fine weather).
The many outdoor activities available on site or nearby include golf, cycling, walking, horseriding and fishing – and a drive around The Ring of Kerry is a must.