I have been lucky enough in my time as a journalist to review a fair few fabulous hotels. Five star properties are designed to give you the princess treatment and generally, for the price tags they charge, it’s the least you should expect.
But for a hotel to leave you feeling not just princess-levels of spoilt but totally and utterly blown away is rare. Adare Manor, a sprawling, 19th century castle hotel near Limerick on Ireland’s West coast, is just such a place.
With a river running through the vast and perfectly manicured 842-acre estate – that’s an acre less than Central Park for scale – and medieval ruins dotted about the grounds, Adare has all the magic of a fairytale castle. And from the minute you complete the smoothly winding driveway to be greeted at the entrance by green-coated doormen holding ‘A’ branded umbrellas, to the moment you depart with little boxes of homemade confectionery, the Adare is experience is 10/10 stellar.
Where is it?
The hotel is a 25-minute drive from Shannon International Airport, 1.5 hours from Cork Airport and 2.5 hours from Dublin Airport. Situated in the heart of picturesque Adare Village, the hotel is a 30-minute drive from the town of Limerick.
The property was originally the family seat of the 2nd Earl of Dunraven, who spent 30 years transforming it from a classic Georgian mansion on the banks of the Maigue into the romantic Neo-Gothic gem that is Adare Manor. It remained the home of successive generations of the Dunraven family until the 1980s when Adare Manor was sold and transformed into one of the finest five-star hotels in Ireland. An example of a rare ‘Calendar House’, the main building is adorned with 365 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, 7 stone pillars and 4 towers to mark the annual tally of days, weeks and seasons.
The property reopened in November 2017 following a multi-million pound restoration project – the largest of its kind in Ireland – which modernised the interiors while honouring its heritage, and added a 42 bedroom new wing, complete with ballroom and a brand new spa.
The interiors cleverly and sensitively balance glamour and modernity with the property’s traditional features. Old fashioned family portraits, original (and incredibly beautiful) red marble fireplaces and 130 year-old oak panelling sit beautifully alongside twinkling modern chandeliers, elegant soft furnishings in greys and pastels and custom silk wallpapers that, on closer inspection, feature prints inspired by life on the estate.
The restoration was painstakingly achieved with immaculate sensitivity and attention to detail, with no replicas used. The original oak floors, which were made from trees on the estate remain, as do the original stained glass windows from the 1830s.
The property has 104 guestrooms, including the existing 62 bedrooms in the Manor House and River Wing, and the brand new 42-bedroom West Wing.
All rooms feature king-sized beds, marble en suite bathrooms with a rainfall shower, and a well-stocked complimentary minibar. They all come with Acqua di Parma toiletries, ridiculously soft bathrobes, a fresh fruit bowl and fresh flowers.
For a truly magical experience, book one of the Dunraven Staterooms, which are located in the original Manor House building and approximately 70 square metres of space overlooking the incredible manicured rose gardens. There, 19th century artworks and mahogany furniture sit alongside brand new deeply luxurious king size beds, a desk and sitting area and a beautiful original pink marble fireplace. For serious indulgence book a Signature Suite, each of which comes with its own Manor Butler, on hand to ensure you truly feel like King or Queen of the castle.
Food & drink
With four dining venues on the property, guests are gastronomically spoilt for choice.
Breakfasts are served in the oak-panelled Gallery, an impressively 40 metre-long and 11 metre-high ceilinged space inspired by the great Hall of Mirrors in Versailles with stained glass windows and the option of cosy sofa seating. It’s mostly a la carte, with a varied menu catering to all moods and hangover levels: from delicious wellness shots and granola, to full English breakfasts— the homemade hash browns are a must. A daily afternoon tea is also served here and is bookable for non-guests.
For lunch there are two main options. The Drawing Room, where an elegant menu of light snacks like crab toast, soup and pasta are served in a high-ceilinged glamorous room overlooking the manicured gardens. Or for something more substantial walk five minutes to the more modern Carriage House, a light and airy barn conversion style space designed by David Collins studio. This light-filled dining room overlooks the putting green (and is where golfing parties book in for lunch) and has marble tables an open kitchen and hanging plants. There’s an adjoining bar and snug area, a cigar lounge and a pro golf shop on site. The menu has something for everyone: from excellent superfood salads and pastas to steak and Beyond Burgers. There’s an impressive wine list, super friendly staff and very popular Sunday roasts.
The Carriage House is perfect for more relaxed dinners, but for serious foodies (or those looking for a celebratory dinner), the hotel’s Michelin-starred Oak Room restaurant is not to be missed.
Helmed by Head Chef Michael Tweedie, the menu majors in elegant and unfussy fine dining with a focus on seafood from sustainable sources and prime Irish meats and game. That said, vegans and vegetarians are sublimely well catered for. Décor is green-hued and traditional but stylish - ask for a table in the conservatory, which has magical views out over the grounds. Jonathan the sommelier recently arrived from a four-year stint at Noma, and the wine pairing is worth the extra spend for his insight and humour alone.
No evening at Adare would be complete without a nightcap in the Tack Room, a subterranean speakeasy bar that has a members club feel and dangerously talented mixologists. Watch out – they stay open for as long as you stay drinking.
People often say that hotels have extensive facilities and you’ll never be bored… but in the case of Adare it really is true.
The property is nestled among the greens of a world-class golf course. And it really is world-class. Hotel owner John Patrick McManus is a best mate of Tiger Woods who consulted on its redesign, for which they coaxed best in class golf course designer Tom Fazio back out of retirement to design the new 18-hole, par 72 golf course. Since reopening, the course has been announced as the host venue for the staging of the 2022 JP McManus Pro -Am and 2027 Ryder Cup.
But this is so much more than a golf hotel. It’s a spa hotel, a fitness fanatic’s paradise and an outdoorsy adventure wonderland.
First up, the spas. Yes, there’s more than one. The original spa on the ground floor of the main hotel building is a serene space featuring five treatment rooms, a gorgeous relaxation room with heated beds, a beautiful eight-metre pool overlooking the tumbling river (the doors open out onto it in summer) and a sauna.
Top skincare brand 111 Skin took over the treatments in the hotel last year (making it the first spa in Ireland to offer treatments from the brand), which means the facials are as professional and effective as anything you’ll find in Mayfair. Opt for the new Rose Gold Radiance facial (€360 for 150 minutes) and your skin will be soothed and spoilt with an enzyme cleanser, Rose Quartz Crystal massage, endless hydrating lotions and potions all rounded off with a gold sheet treatment mask. A truly spoiling and seriously effective hydrating facial to give your glow back after one too many martinis in the Tack Room.
The Padel Club
The second (and larger) 17-metre swimming pool and sauna area is located in the Padel Club, a super slick building three minutes walk from the main property cleverly built, in 2021, to disappear among the surrounding trees. Here you’ll find a vast swimming pool with jaccuzi and rain shower complete with magical views, via floor to ceiling glass windows, out onto the surrounding woodland. There’s also a sauna and steam room, plentiful loungers and stylish changing rooms with Aromatherapy Associates products in the showers.
There’s a golf and putting simulation studio and a beautiful pilates, yoga and barre studio, and The Padel Club, as the name suggests, is also home to two Padel courts, the only indoor courts in Ireland. A cross between tennis and squash but easier to pick up than both, Padel is the fastest growing sport in the world. And with super fun instructors on hand to give you a lesson, it’s not to be missed.
Activites in the grounds
A stroll along one of the walking trails through the grounds will take in walled gardens, a dovecote, a hunting lodge, and pristine parklands, where thousands of mature and woodland trees were planted in the renovation. The Ogham Stones are well worth a wander to see: stone monuments displaying an early Irish written language (Ogham Alphabet) dating back to the 4th and 6th centuries.
For anyone in the mood for something more adventurous, the hotel offers falconry, archery, clay pigeon shooting, cycling, horse and carriage rides and fishing on the River Maigue.
You will never be bored at Adare, nor will you ever want to leave.
Rooms at Adare start from €550 per room, per night for a Classic room including breakfast; adaremanor.com/