This large, rambling country house is just an hour from Dublin, but it could be in a different world.
Although it's very professionally operated, the O'Flynn family insist that this romantic spot is not an hotel and - even if there is an 18-hole golf course with clubhouse in the grounds - the gentle rhythms of life around the country house and gardens ensure that the atmosphere is kept decidedly low-key.
Day rooms are elegantly furnished in classic country house style, with lots of comfortable seating areas and open fires.
Bedrooms, as in all old houses, do vary - some are spacious with lovely country views, while other smaller, simpler rooms in the stable yard have a special cottagey charm; and there are newer rooms, built discreetly behind the main courtyard, which are very big and finished to a high standard, with luxurious bathrooms.
Rathsallagh is renowned for its magnificent Edwardian breakfast buffet, which has twice been the overall national winner of our Irish Breakfast Awards.
Breakfast at Rathsallagh offers every conceivable good thing, including silver chafing dishes, full of reminders of yesteryear.
A large sideboard display offers such an array of temptations that it can be hard to decide where to start - fresh juices, fruits and home-bakes, local honey and home-made jams and chutneys... Irish farmhouse cheeses, whole ham on the bone, salamis and smoked salmon... then there are the hot dishes, including their own free range eggs, the full Irish, and then some - less usual dishes like smoked salmon kedgeree, and Kay's devilled kidneys are specialities worth travelling for, and there's another whole menu devoted to the Healthy Option Breakfast.
If golf is not your thing, there are plenty of other ways to work off this remarkable meal - the Wicklow Hills beckon walkers of all levels, for example, or you could at least fit in a gentle stroll around the charming walled gardens. Great food and service, warm hospitality, and surroundings that are quiet or romantic to suit the mood of the day - Rathsallagh has it all.
Conference/banqueting (40/230), free broadband wi/fi. Swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room. Golf (18), gardens, tennis, cycling, walking. Pool table. Beauty salon. Pets allowed by arrangement. Helipad.
Rooms 29 (1 suite, 9 ground floor, 2 shower only, 2 for disabled, all no smoking). Not suitable for children. B&B €125 pps (€95 pps low season), single €185. *Short breaks (incl golf breaks) offered, details on application.
Have an aperitif in the old kitchen bar, while considering daily-changing menus that showcase the best of local and seasonal produce.
A strong kitchen team is led by Abhishek ('Abhi') Tiwari, who recently returned to Rathsallagh as Head Chef after a spell gaining experience in Dublin, ably assisted by an excellent Sous Chef, Garret Young. Abhi and Garret clearly relish everything that is going on at Rathsallagh; menus, which are interesting and change daily, are based on local and seasonal produce, much of it from Rathsallagh's own walled garden, which tops the supplier list.
Local butcher, Myles Doyle, supplies excellent meats, notably the dry-aged steaks that are the such a draw on the Steak & Wine evenings held on Thursday nights off season (to the end of March) and the wonderful whole hams that feature every morning on the breakfast buffet. Doyle's and Heaney Meats of Galway also supply other meats and poultry, while delicious rare breed pork comes from nearby Wine Tavern Farm, Co Wicklow.
Meats and game (in season) may be first to come to mind when planning a meal in Co Wicklow, but the menus at Rathsallagh also offer plenty of appealing fish and seafood dishes, including an excellent house chowder - and there may well be fresh fish on the menu at breakfast too, along with sides of the famous Duncannon smoked salmon.
Dinner menus are changed daily and, while this lovely dining room and everything that it offers always creates a sense of occasion, there's a welcome emphasis on simplicity. Twice baked cheese soufflé is a speciality, for example, and - served perhaps with Apple, caramelised walnut and pomegranate salad with walnut oil, makes a lovely starter, while main courses will usually include Doyle's butchers Wicklow beef - a Duo perhaps (6oz fillet, with red wine braised short ribs) served with boulangère potatoes, leeks, crispy onion and a Merlot jus ...
Choices made, settle down in the graciously furnished dining room overlooking the gardens and the golf course to enjoy a series of dishes that are well-conceived and visually tempting but especially memorable for flavour.
Leave room for luscious desserts, often based on fruit from the garden, which are served (generously) from a traditional trolley, or Irish farmhouse cheeses, before relaxing with coffee and petits fours in the drawing room or bar.
An informative wine list offers many interesting bottles, notably in the Rathsallagh Cellar Collection, and includes a good choice of recommended wines under about €30.