What can make for a more Irish vacation experience than staying in a castle hotel in the county of Limerick? Adare Manor Hotel is now open after 21 months of construction, welcoming you to have a dram of Irish whisky, play a round on the links, and maybe even make up your own rhyme while you’re there.
Adare Manor is the latest castle hotel in Ireland, coming a month after Kilkea Castle that we reviewed earlier. While that one is the oldest inhabited castle in the country, this one was built rather late in the country’s history: from 1842 to 1860. The whole thing was meant as a project to keep the Second Earl of Dunraven occupied and distracted from an illness. The construction timing also was fortunate for local villagers since the castle went up while the great potato famine was going on and there was not much work available. This more modern castle has no shortage of grandness, however.
An example of a rare ‘Calendar House’, Adare Manor 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 in a year. The building displays a wealth of gargoyles, heraldry and decorative stone and wood carvings. Many of these carvings show creatures and monsters from the Bestiary, a medieval book of mythical beasts.
With the goal of making this one of Ireland’s most luxurious hotels, a new owner took over three years ago and the property closed its doors in January of 2016. Crews have been remodeling the existing guest rooms in the original castle and also completely gutting those in a newer wing where they could start from scratch. This was a top-to-bottom renovation throughout, with every piece of tile and every pane of glass getting replaced.
The golf course is getting a revamp too, with Tom Fazio brought in to redesign it the 18 holes. A new system went in to suck water from the greens to keep them from getting waterlogged in the wet Irish weather. (The Golf Course at Adare Manor will reopen in spring of 2018.)
There are six categories of guest rooms at Adare Manor, from classic rooms to signature suites. Even the smallest are still ample, at 476 square feet, and are loaded with fine linens, quality Georgian style furniture, and accent wallpaper that gives a nod to the past. Marble baths have rain showers and are stocked with Aqua di Parma toiletries. With 1076 square feet, a sitting room, and complimentary minibar restocked daily, the suites also come with a Manor Butler on call as your personal assistant. All rooms come with robes and slippers, there’s turndown service each night, and you will have views of the River Maigue, the golf course, formal gardens, or the forest.
With names like The Oak Room, The Drawing Room, and The Carriage House, you can expect plenty of atmospheric dining options in this castle hotel. The Oak Room is the original dining room for the manor family, focused on contemporary Irish fine dining and a chef’s tasting menu. The Tack Room is a bar worthy of a castle, with more than 100 different whisky bottles for tasting and a cocktails menu created by a skilled mixologist. There’s afternoon tea each day in The Gallery, an impressive room filled with stained glass and original wood carvings.
There’s plenty of room to roam on the 842 acres and staffers can set up falconry demonstrations, fishing, archery, skeet shooting, bike rides, and other activities. They can also rent you motorcycles or a classic car for roaming the Irish countryside. La Mer Spa provides massages and other treatments and there’s a full gym and indoor swimming pool.
Adare Manor castle hotel is 224 kilometers west of Dublin, near the town of Limerick and close to the Shannon airport.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who got a hard hat tour of the property prior to opening as part of the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference.