Beautifully situated alongside the Grand Canal, with the entrance - guarded by stone lions and a new lodge which sports the trademark soft Lyons green - just beside the 14th lock, the former Lyons Demesne underwent a change of ownership, and of name, in 2016, when it was acquired by the Cliff Group (Cliff House Hotel, Co Waterford; Cliff Townhouse, Dublin).
In an imaginatively landscaped setting with delightful little gardens and ever-present water, this unusual place has many faces - romantic wedding venue, conference and meeting place, rural retreat, and fine dining destination among them - and it is host to The Academy, a City and Guilds certified professional cookery school, offering full time chef training courses.
In the main building, The Mill (a stunning double height room that was home to the original fine dining restaurant) now positions itself as Ireland’s premier Wedding and Corporate Venue. The Mill, (along with several other areas, including The Garden Room and The Shackleton Room) certainly offers a superb setting for private gatherings, including exclusive weddings - there is a tiny chapel, which has to be seen to be believed.
A range of luxurious Accommodation options is offered, including four 'Estate' rooms (a striking mix of the traditional and the contemporary, one with free standing bath); nine varied but equally atmospheric Lily Pond Rooms overlooking the central water feature; a romantic one-bedroom apartment; and a number of 2- and 3-bedroom ‘cottages’ (complete with Aga in their bespoke kitchens, amongst many other unexpected features), some overlooking the canal.
Two restaurants - the fine dining Orangery (see below), and the informal all-day Canal Café – offer contrasting styles for different occasions.
You approach the main entrance past stone statuary and a bed of box balls, over a little bridge (pausing to admire the mill race below) and in through a massive front door which leads straight into the bar; known as The Lyons Den, it’s a welcoming room with a huge fireplace, plenty of comfortable well-worn leather furniture and a full figure portrait of a lady to welcome arriving guests.
The Orangery fine dining restaurant is along a corridor towards the back of the building. It's a relaxed and space, with a covered courtyard area, and a high-windowed Turner-style conservatory that offers a special dining experience in a bright space alongside the maturing gardens, where tables can also be set up in fine weather
Flagged as a botanical restaurant - where Head Chef Nathan Dimond heads up a team led by Executive Chef Martijn Kajuiter, of the group's flagship property, Cliff House Hotel, Co Waterford - "the vegetable leads, meat, fish and fowl follow". Pickled, fermented and dehydrated foods take their place alongside the freshly picked and foraged fare that are the basis of each day's central dish - and wines selected by Cliff sommelier, Thierry Sauvenot, to accompany.