Formerly home to The O'Gorman family, this restored country house on the outskirts of Naas Town has been operating as an hotel since 2006.
Although the atmosphere is now more hotel than country house, some of the charm of the original building remains and with Naas, Punchestown and The Curragh race courses all nearby, several top golf courses a short drive away and car racing (Mondello), the Japanese Gardens and National Stud also in the area, it is well placed for both business and leisure guests.
Public areas include a large bar which is popular with locals as well as residents; it features racing paintings and a grand piano - played officially on Saturday evenings, although guests have been known to enjoy impromptu sessions at other times.
Several types of guest room (including one suite) are offered in the main building, also some in the Coach House, and there is a Hair and Beauty salon which is convenient for guests attending events - conference banqueting facilities are available for groups of anything between eight and 110 people.
With a car barrier and various signs warning of clamping etc, arrival at the hotel is not very welcoming and, in the Guide’s experience, reception and service can sometimes be offhand. However, Maudlins House Hotel has the potential to please, and offers something different for those who prefer the intimacy of smaller establishments.
The hotel serves good food - The Virginia Restaurant offers fine dining and is seen as something of a ‘hidden gem’; informal meals are also served in the bar (times vary).
Conferences/Banqueting (100/70); free broadband wi/fi; secretarial service; laptop sized safe in bedrooms. Golf, fishing and garden visits nearby. Children welcome (under 12s free in parents' room, cot available free of charge, baby sitting arranged).
The Virginia Restaurant
At busy times arriving diners will be met at a reception desk outside the restaurant; when quiet you may well be asked to go in and pick a table for yourself.
The restaurant consists of three interconnecting rooms with large windows, wooden floors, (gas) fires, heavy red curtains, mirrors and landscape paintings.
Polished wooden tables have comfortable chairs with well padded seats, and tables are classically appointed with very good glassware and cutlery, linen napkins, and a night light - but dried rather than fresh flowers.
Iced water and brown bread and walnut bread are promptly served, and menus offered include a shortish à la carte (three starters, four mains and four desserts), and a set menu/early bird menu (seven starters, nine mains five desserts).
Typical dishes recently experienced by the Guide include a trio of salmon (home smoked, gravadlax and poached), €8.90; presented in three neat lines on a white plate, and garnished with pickled cucumbers and a few drops of mustard dressing, this variation on the traditional smoked salmon starter comes with a slice of brown bread and a wedge of lemon.
Starters generally are very appealing, and may include luxurious dishes such as seared foie gras.
Main courses choices are well-balanced, and may include Wicklow lamb and a couple of fish dishes – but this is beef country, with fillet of beef an especially popular main course; and it shouldn’t disappoint as (although pricey at €27.50), in the Guide’s experience, it is a perfectly cooked and appealingly presented dish with roast onion crust, braised oxtail, roasted garlic, celeriac purée and a red wine jus; served with side copper pots of baby boiled potatoes, and several other vegetables - broccoli florets, cauliflower florets and large carrot batons - this is a very good main course, with the red wine jus attracting particular praise.
The dessert menu offers a range of updated classics and old favourites - a nicely presented and tasty Virginia Chocolate and hazelnut brownie with vanilla ice cream, for example (€ 7.90) - and it is good to see refreshing fruit-based options such as an Orange Tasting Plate.
The wine list leans towards France but gives offers a good cross section overall and is not over-priced; sommelier selection 4 red/ 4 white € 21.50 to € 45.00, 10 wines by glass € 5.90 / € 6.50.
This is a pleasant restaurant and, in the Guide’s experience, the cooking is above average - so it is a pity that an otherwise good meal here may be let down by offhand service.