Set in a 300-acre estate just across the river from Kenmare town, this stunning hotel made an immediate impact from the day it opened in April 1991; it has continued to develop and mature most impressively since.
The waterside location is beautiful, and welcoming fires always burn in the handsome foyer and in several of the spacious, elegantly furnished reception rooms, including a lounge bar area overlooking the tumbling waterfall.
Decor throughout is contemporary classic, offering traditional luxury with a modern lightness of touch and a tendency to understatement that adds up to great style; accommodation in spacious bedrooms - and suites, which include an impressive presidential suite - is luxurious: all rooms have excellent amenities, including video/DVD and CD players, beautiful marbled bathrooms and views of the cascading river or Kenmare Bay.
Outstanding facilities for both corporate and private guests include state-of-the-art conference facilities, a fine library (with computer/internet), an equestrian centre (treks around the 300-acre estate) and The Queen’s Walk (named after Queen Victoria), which takes you through lush woodland. The Health & Fitness Spa includes a pretty 15 metre pool (and an extensive range of treatments).
But it is, above all, the staff who make this luxurious and stylish international hotel the home from home that it quickly becomes for each new guest.
*Two beautifully appointed self-contained two-bedroom thatched cottages, Little Hay Cottage and Garden Cottage, and a 5-bedroom house on the estate, are available to rent - and have recently been joined by a range of new properties available for rental, some of them fully serviced. Details on application.
Conference/banqueting (120/120); free broadband wi/fi, business centre, secretarial services, video-conferencing. Health & Fitness Spa (15m swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, treatments, beauty salon), boutique, walking, gardens, croquet, clay pigeon shooting, tennis, cycling. Fishing (coarse, fly) and equestrian nearby. Heli-pad. Children welcome (cots available, €25, baby sitting arranged; playground). Dogs permitted to stay in outhouse/kennels.
Rooms 66 (1 presidential suites, 12 suites, 8 junior suites, 14 ground floor rooms, 10 no-smoking bedrooms, 1 disabled). Lift. All day room service; turndown service. Room rate €307.50 pp (max 2 guests).
This beautifully appointed restaurant is designed in tiers to take full advantage of the waterfalls - floodlit at night and providing a dramatic backdrop for an exceptional fine dining experience.
Executive Chef Heiko Riebandt continues the high standard of cooking which is the hallmark of this lovely restaurant; backed up by professional service, the ambience is further enhanced by soothing live piano music.
Menus are not over-extensive yet allow plenty of choice and, while it may not be immediately obvious, they are changed seasonally and based on local foods; the tone is classic, perhaps with just an occasional nod to Irish cuisine.
There’s an understandable leaning towards local seafood - including lobster and crab from Castletownbere, perhaps, also scallops, Dover sole and turbot - but Kerry beef and lamb are likely to feature too, also Skeaghanore duck (from nearby West Cork). If you visit during the game season, you will probably be able to choose from pheasant, pigeon and venison; a vegetarian menu is available on request, and also a six-course Tasting Menu.
Speciality desserts could include indulgent Fig Beignets (with fromage blanc mousse and berry compote) or an Irish Whiskey and golden raisin crème brûlée with Guinness ice-cream.
The atmospheric wine cellar is a particular point of pride - guests can visit it to choose their own bottle, and port may also be served there after dinner - deep-pocketed wine buffs will enjoy the wine list and should make a point of seeing it well ahead of dining if possible, as it details around 950 wines, with particular strengths in the classic European regions, especially Burgundy and Bordeaux, and a fine collection of ports and dessert wines.
*Light lunches and afternoon tea are available in the sun lounge, 12-6 daily, and the informal Oscar’s Bistro offers an extensive à la carte dinner menu, including a children’s menu, Wed-Sun, 6-10pm.