Splendid Ballyfin is one of Ireland’s finest country houses, now restored to elegant and graceful life, and reopened as a luxurious hotel. The beauty of the great house and its spacious demesne and lake, and the stratospheric standards of hospitality here, makes this hotel a truly remarkable place.
Imagine a beautiful 600-acre walled estate of woods, hills and water in the heart of Ireland – with the neoclassical Ballyfin lying at its heart. Privacy is the rule: no part of the estate is open to the public, and the secluded surroundings encourage relaxation. However, Ballyfin is not isolated: the closest railway station is five miles (9km) away in Portlaoise; Dublin city and airport are 60 miles (100 km) distant. Transport can be arranged.
Style and Character
Ballyfin was rescued from a long decline and has been restored gloriously over the last 10 years. Think magnificent country-house style: glorious rooms, including a spectacular library and saloon, an intimate drawing room, and world-class stucco work matched with fine paintings and masses of books. And with only 20 bedrooms, the house cultivates an air of cosy intimacy. In the grounds, admire the graceful ‘Cascade’ waterfall – a splendid intervention which works excellently.
Service and Facilities
Service is exceptional – from the moment members of staff appear to welcome the approaching guest and whisk away the car. Polished, professional, but never stuffy, with a dash of beguiling Irish informality. Enjoy archery, shooting, walking and cycling, boating, fishing, tennis and croquet. Picnics can be delivered in the grounds; guided walks arranged in the Slieve Bloom Mountains; with golf at nearby world-class inland courses. Inside, there’s whiskey tastings; plus a mosaic-tiled 14-metre pool, a gym and a full range of spa treatments.
- Room service
- Tennis court
- Fitness centre
- Steam room/hammam
Glorious accommodation. Each spacious room comes with antique furniture, and the best in modern music and television technology. Lobbies in each room silence corridor noise; beds are firm, with Egyptian cotton sheets; turn-down service is standard. Try the Westmeath Room, with its bed shaped like a Faberge egg. Vast bathrooms, with chandeliers, giant shower heads and luxurious Pevonia toiletries. The newly restored Gardener’s Cottage offers the best of both worlds: spacious private accommodation, open fires, and kitchen facilities – all within a minute’s walk of the main house. No tea and coffee-making facilities at Ballyfin: order for fast service.
Food and Drink
Dinner is wonderful. Guests assemble for pre-dinner drinks; and order from an à la carte, or five or eight-course tasting menu, before proceeding to the elegant State Dining Room. Food is exceptional (try the delicious halibut) and much of it locally sourced; dinner comes with amuse-bouches, and pyramids of petit-fours to finish. Request a tour of the wine cellars, guided by the world-class sommelier. Don’t miss coffee and cake in the spectacular conservatory; and breakfast is fresh, bountiful and imaginative; try the Irish buttermilk pancakes.
Value for Money
Double rooms from €580 (£517) throughout the year. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Ballyfin is fully accessible; one adapted room is available.
Children must be aged nine or over. Older children can take part in the plethora of estate activities; parents/guardians are asked to ensure that tranquillity is maintained.