Set in 500 acres of sub-tropical parkland, overlooking Kenmare Bay, this classic Victorian hotel is blessed with one of the most beautiful locations in Ireland. Originally one of the great old railway hotels, the Parknasilla Great Southern Hotel, it has gone through a period of change in recent years and opened under new ownership in 2013; now, with local businessman Tony Daly - who is highly respected in hospitality circles - heading up a consortium, there is a sense that this lovely property can blossom once again.
Many of the key staff will be familiar to returning guests and the welcome will be as warm as ever, with help on hand for your luggage and the big log fire burning just inside the door.
Public areas are spacious and relaxing, with open fires and plenty of comfortable lounging furniture interspersed through the bar and several gracious drawing rooms, emphasising that this is a place where people come to relax.
Accommodation is varied, as is the way with old buildings, and the best bedrooms and suites in the main hotel have been refurbished in luxurious period style. There are also some newer, more contemporary rooms including the Parknasilla Suites, Courtyard Suites, and also the West Wing Junior Suites which are very plush, with floor to ceiling windows and wrap-around balconies which make the most of the stunning views out over the water; although modern (which is not necessarily what guests staying at this kind of hotel would choose), the décor is muted, with plenty of greys, taupes and warm beige and gold tones.
Some of the older accommodation (standard rooms) may not yet have been refurbished but, in the Guide’s experience, that is no hardship and dated bathrooms may be the only real disadvantage - it is worth noting that not all rooms in the hotel have a bath, so guests preferrring a bath should say so when booking.
This gracious hotel is a lovely place to stay and service has always been impressive, regarding both efficiency and politeness – and staff are invariably very pleasant and helpful.
Some holiday villas, set well back from the driveway in woodland between the gates and the hotel, are not too obtrusive, and add mixed accommodation that is useful for families and groups of friends on golfing holidays etc, and also for weddings. Villa guests have full use of all the hotel facilities, including the impressive new swimming pool and spa, all unobtrusively re-built above the little harbour and with huge windows taking advantage of the stunning sea and mountain view.
Aside from the waterside location and wonderful views, the surrounding 500 acre estate is the hotel’s greatest asset and it is renowned for the wide range of activities offered, including walking, horse riding, tennis, golf (12), cruising, fishing, and cycling – and the sheer sense of space and tranquillity is the fulfilment of every townie’s dream.
Conferences/Banqueting (40/180); For a banquet for 100 guests or more the hotel must be rented on an exclusive use basis; free broadband wi/fi. Leisure centre (gym, pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi); Spa (massage, treatments). Snooker, pool table, lawn bowls. Heli-pad.
Rooms 83 (+ 38 self catering woodland villas). B&B €105pps (€65 low season); offers available. Children welcome (under 2s free in parenrs room, cot available free of charge, baby sitting arranged. Limited room service. Hotel open weekends only 15th November-20th December; Closed 5 Jan - 7 Mar. Amex, Diners, MasterCard, Visa, Laser.
A very large and beautifully appointed formal dining room, this is an impressive restaurant by any standards and diners are left in no doubt that this is dining in a style that befits the age and history of the building.
The best tables, in a large semi-circular conservatory style area, have views over the gardens (and an extensive outdoor seating area) to the sea and mountains; even at breakfast there is a sense of occasion.
Now, with the change of ownership and chef Peter Farandon at the helm, this lovely restaurant is moving into a new era.