Get your Austen on.
Weekend getaways and mini-breaks are the perfect way to clear your mind, boost your energy and glam up your Insta feed. But which of the many hotel destinations around Ireland is the one for you?
We checked in to Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny to give you the lowdown…
The vibe: A seriously elegant estate house set in rolling green pastures. Lyrath is popular for big occasions – there was a 30th birthday, 60th birthday, hen party and the third of four weddings of the week all in situ when we arrived. If you’re visiting during the summer months you need to be prepared for a bit of bustle as well as packs of roaming children.
The Instagram spot: The front of the ivy-covered house is the prime spot, no filters needed. There’s a view across the 170 acres of parkland that has serious Jane Austen vibes. No Colin Firth in the lake though, we checked. Twice. There’s falconry and archery available as extras if your feed needs some action shots.
The decor: Luxurious but with quirky accents like the four large Greek-style statues in the lobby. The mid-century modern touches in the Atrium, where afternoon tea is served, are divine.
The room: Oh the room! A tastefully-decorated suite with real wow factor and amazing views. We could happily live there. In fact, it’s probably bigger than our house.
The bathroom: Twin sinks, large bath, and a rainfall shower (sans door so you do end up soaking the whole floor, ugh). MASSIVE plus in the form of a second separate toilet, meaning your guest can still do their business while you and a bottle of bubbles soak in the tub.
The products: Divine-smelling Rituals minis in the room. Needs-no-description Elemis and Kerstin Florian in the spa.
The hairdryer: Attached to the wall with one of those annoying coiled wire that keeps pulling you back – ugh – and worse, you have to keep your finger on the button to keep the dryer on. What sadist came up with that? The dryer does, at least, give a decent gust of air, but all three heat settings were indistinguishably scorching.
The robe: Super-soft soft inside, not a hint of sandpaper scratchiness. Big enough for a gal possessing of a pair of hips to properly wrap herself in, not like the scrimpy robes found in so many hotels that make you feel fat while leaving you literally cold.
The spa: Small but perfectly formed and filled with couples. The Oasis Spa has treatment rooms and thermal suite (steam rooms, sauna and tropical showers) as well as an indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool. There’s a swimming pool as part of the separate health centre but we didn’t venture that far. Our package included a 25-minute treatment, which gave plenty of time to lounge about in the relaxation room.
The food: We had dinner in the formal Yew Restaurant, although there’s also a more casual option in The Grill & Bar upstairs. For €49 per person you can enjoy three courses. I chose slow cooked pork belly to start, followed by roast chicken with bok choi (a tad salty but with quality gravy) for mains, and a deconstructed cheesecake with honeycomb to finish. With the addition of a bottle of delicious veggie- and vegan-friendly Prosecco it was a meal to remember.
The win: A breakfast of dreams. Full Irish and healthy options on the buffet, plus omelettes, pancakes and porridge made to order. Come for the home-made brown bread, stay for the scrambled eggs. We ate our fill at 10.30am and didn’t need another morsel for the rest of the day.
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The fail: Charging €11.50 for two modest slices of brown bread with tuna and leaves in Tupper’s Bar. They should at least throw in a tomato when you get past a tenner.
The locale: Kilkenny city is just a 10-minute drive away, and has a host of cafes, shops and historical sights to potter around. The nightlife is famously vibrant (read: occasionally wild), but with two bars and live music in the hotel it’s as easy to stay put.
Her was invited to visit Lyrath Estate for a one-night stay in exchange for a fair and honest review. The ’24’ package, which includes B&B, dinner and 25-minute treatments for two, starts €156pp sharing for midweek and from €190pp at weekends. For more information, visit Lyrath Estate’s website.