Even the most jaded traveller would have to agree that a stay at this renowned hotel is always a treat. With a magnificent waterside location in the midst of Ireland’s most scenic landscape, it has views over gardens to the ever-changing mountains across the bay – yet it is virtually in the centre of the Heritage Town of Kenmare.
Travellers from all over the world have found a home from home here since the hotel was built in 1897, by the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, as an overnight stop for passengers travelling to Parknasilla, 17 miles away.
The current proprietor, Francis “At Your Service” Brennan, re-opened the hotel in 1985, and has since earned international acclaim for exceptional standards of service, comfort and cuisine.
It is a most hospitable and relaxing place, where a warm welcome and the ever-burning fire in the hall set the tone for a stay in which guests are discreetly pampered by outstandingly friendly and professional staff led by Francis's brother John, as Managing Director, and General Manager Patrick Hanley who joined the team at the beginning of the 2015 season.
And that pampering reaches dizzy heights in the hotel’s deluxe destination spa, Sámas, which translates from the Gaelic as ‘indulgence of the senses’. Unlike anything else offered in Ireland, Sámas adjoins the hotel on a wooded knoll and is designed to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit; there are separate male and female areas (also two day suites for couples) and guests can choose from over forty holistic treatments, designed by a team of professionals to meet individual needs.
There is also a beautiful stainless steel pool, which is available to both hotel guests and residents of The Retreats, the apartments alongside the hotel.
Lifestyle programmes combining spa treatments with other activities in the area - walking on the Kerry Way, golf, fishing, horse trekking - offer a unique way to enjoy the deeply peaceful atmosphere of this luxurious hotel. Cycling holidays based in the hotel are also becoming very popular - an ideal way to balance energetic sight-seeing during the day with luxurious comfort and good food at night.
As for the guest accommodation, spacious suites and bedrooms are individually furnished to the highest standards, with antiques, fine linen and attention to detail, including delicious home-baked cookies.
And, in line with the excellence which prevails throughout the hotel, the outstanding breakfasts served at the Park start the day in style. [Park Hotel Kenmare was the national winner of our Hotel Breakfast of the Year Award in 2005.]
Garden, tennis, croquet, cycling, walking, snooker on site. Destination Spa, 25m lap pool. Reel Room (12-seater cinema). Horse riding, fishing (fly, coarse, sea), mountain walks and stunning coastal drives are all nearby. Golf club adjacent (18 hole).
Conferences/Banqueting (80/120); free broadband wi/fi, business centre. Rooms 46 (9 suites, 24 junior suites, 8 family, 8 ground floor, 3 single, 3 disabled, 46 no smoking). Lift. 24 hour room service. Children welcome (under 4s free in parents' room, cots available without charge, baby sitting arranged, play room, kids club). Dogs may stay in kennels on grounds.
Rooms about €190-€740; off-season holistic retreats offer very good value. Hotel closed end November to early March (re-opening for Christmas/New Year).
This traditionally elegant dining room is at its best in daylight, when the views from window tables are simply lovely. Terraced lawns lead down through a copse of trees to the lake, with the Kerry mountains in the background. (And you may be lucky enough to see a baby deer just beyond the terrace who has adopted the gardens as his home). Pristine linen cloths and napery, a small jug with a single flower, a silver candleholder and very comfortable chairs are an excellent measure of things to come.
Ensuring that the food will match the surroundings is no light matter, but a stylishly restrained classicism has characterised this distinguished kitchen under several famous head chefs. Head Chef, James Coffey who joined the team in 2013, has continued this pleasing house style with aplomb.
A talented and quietly successful chef, James brings a freshness and creativity to classical cooking that makes for a deeply satisfying dining experience.
The evening begins with the first trio of nibbles offered with aperitifs in the bar, through an intriguing amuse-bouche served at the table, house breads, presentation of each dish for inspection on a tray before service, punctilious wine service and finally the excellent coffee and petits fours at the end of the meal - all this contributes to a unique evening at the Park.
With an abundance of local suppliers, food is guaranteed to be fresh, and it is also both creative and innovative. As you would expect, fish and seafood feature strongly – starters of organic salmon, Atlantic crab and scallops, for example, while mains might include fillet of wild turbot with heritage carrots and orange and seaweed butter, or perhaps halibut fillet with charcoal crisp, sorrel and horseradish and St Tola emulsion.
Meat lovers might choose between Hereford beef fillet, perhaps served with Jerusalem artichoke and King oyster; rare breed pork with slow-cooked belly, roast loin, pickled pear and celeriac, or organic chicken with purple potatoes, leeks and bianchetti truffle. Vegetarians are very well catered for – typically beginning with risotto of roasted butternut squash and wild mushrooms or mushroom ‘hash brown’, followed by heirloom beetroot, also served with charcoal crisp and St Tola emulsion.
Desserts are predictably indulgent – strawberry crémaux with almond cake, strawberry curd, coconut meringue and ice cream, or perhaps chocolate fondant with tonka bean caramel and Jameson Whiskey ice cream...
Dining options at the Park include an informal bistro-style dining area overlooking the gardens. Here, an appealing menu offers a range of very tasty dishes, including some upbeat versions of traditional treats like Irish stew, rump steak burger and veal Milanese, as an alternative to the full dining experience. Open daily from 6.30-9pm.
Elegant surroundings, immaculate service and stylish presentation make the most of this afternoon treat. Expect loose leaf teas, finger sandwiches, traditional scones served with homemade preserves and clotted cream and a selection of pastries and cakes as the basic – a glass of Prosecco or Champagne is an indulgence. Children’s’ Afternoon Tea is also available.