She might not have been royalty, but Lady Helen McCalmont lived like a king back in 1911. That is to say she appreciated a fine horse, fine china and the finer things in life that Mount Juliet Estate had to offer her and her family. Needless to say, there is a lot of history housed in this country estate and spread about 1,500 acres of parkland. One of the most luxurious hotels in County Kilkenny, the property is steeped in history, fit for a king or lady of the manor, whichever you prefer.
I had the opportunity to stay at Mount Juliet Estate for a few days in March and, indeed, I felt like royalty. Staff is welcoming, yet discreet in protecting guests’ privacy. This is the place where young and old come to relax in the Kilkenny countryside. There are several options to stay on this property. We stayed in the main house, a beautifully restored Georgian mansion with rooms looking out to the River Nore and the famous Ballylinch Stud Farm beyond. There is also the option of staying in the Hunters Yard; closer to golf, the indoor swimming pool and lovely spa.
There are 32 rooms within Mount Juliet House, including two presidential suites (and yes, a former president of the United States stayed here.) Each room is individually designed and carries its own unique history. We stayed in The Earl of Carrick, a huge riverview room with a large bathroom, including a separate shower and bath and my favorite, a heated towel rack. I also appreciated the bath amenities from locally-made The Handmade Soap Company.
We never made it to the spa or the indoor pool, but my husband enjoyed a round of golf on the 18 hole Jack Nicklaus-designed course and I rode a full Irish Draft horse with an experienced guide accompanying me from Mount Juliet Equestrian. Between the falconry, fly fishing on the River Nore, tennis, clay pigeon shooting, archery and walks along the historic paths and gardens, you’ll not want for things to do at Mount Juliet. Of course, you can always grab a good book and sit by an open log fire, enjoy afternoon tea or drink a pint of Guinness in one of several bars on the property.
All that fresh air will have you ready for a gourmet dining experience at The Lady Helen, a Michelin starred restaurant with Chef Ken Harker overseeing the kitchen. You won’t leave hungry during a stay at Mount Juliet. While I miss the full Irish breakfasts and Eggs Benedict in the morning, I knew I had to wake up from my dream vacation at some point. I hope you have a chance to experience Ireland from the comfort of a grand estate such as this. Everyone should be able to enjoy the ancient sport of kings at Mount Juliet at some stage in life.
Rates vary from low season to high season and range from €185 Euro with BB to €475 Euro BB. As mentioned, we visited during low season, a wonderful time to take advantage of special pricing and package deals. Best prices are available on the website, including mid-week and gourmet dining break offers. Our reservation included breakfast served in The Lady Helen Restaurant. Note that Lady Helen is closed for dinner on Sunday and Tuesday evening.
Review by Nancy D. Brown, Bay Area Travel Writer and lover of historic manor houses. I was a guest of Mount Juliet Estate and Ireland’s Blue Book properties. Ireland’s Blue Book offers Irish country houses, luxury, boutique and castle hotels and restaurants in Ireland. All estate photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown.