The Lansdowne, Kenmare: our first impressions of Francis Brennan's newest hotel

Including the très chic LK Café — enjoy coffee, crêpes, pastries, and wine here
The Lansdowne, Kenmare: our first impressions of Francis Brennan's newest hotel

A double-room at the Lansdowne Kenmare.

At your service! Ever since the Brennan Brothers became a household name in Ireland thanks to their moreish makeover shows, you could say the duo and their properties have been esteemed as the postermen of Irish hospitality. Their existing accommodations, Park Hotel Kenmare and Dromquinna Manor, are two of the Kingdom’s most sought-after staycation spots, but for this week’s column, I checked into their latest — and much fanfared — hotel acquisition, The Lansdowne Kenmare.

First Impressions

Kenmare is one of Ireland’s most ridiculously postcard towns to arrive upon and standing guard over its stunning streetscapes is The Lansdowne Kenmare which has been welcoming guests to the town since 1790. Snapped up, reimagined, and refurbed, the hotel opened in July with the tagline of offering guests traditional townhouse hospitality with a twist of 21st-century elegance. The hotel’s impressive wrought-iron portico on Main Street makes an great first impact, and upon entering, my friend Edel and I are offered a friendly fáilte at the traditional booth front desk, as well as an offer of help with luggage —a classy touch. Beyond reception, an airy lobby lounge, capped by an open fireplace and chandelier features plush retro furnishings in soft pinks and forest greens along with a sweeping herringbone oak floor which looks great in the natural light. It’s a Pinterest-perfect space but perhaps a little background jazz would give it more stick-around appeal.

Suite Talk

The Lansdowne offers 28 refurbed bedrooms with views ranging from the Kenmare streetscape to the hotel’s restaurant terrace and car park. Our twin seomra was signatured by two brilliantly white beds featuring (#notanadvert) luxury linens from Dunnes Stores’ Francis Brennan — the Collection. I say! Other pluses in the room include a stylish fabric headboard, Nespresso machine, and a Roberts’ bluetooth speaker. A frosted bathroom door leads to the ensuite (featuring tub with shower) which features a beautiful marble sink and Voya toiletries but rather passé bordered wall tiling. It’s a comfy room and those beds are like clouds to sink into; though it would be lovely to see some local art or photography to add character to the space.

Breakfast at the Landsdowne, Kenmare
Breakfast at the Landsdowne, Kenmare

Food & Drink

For food and drinks, the hotel offers visitors two options: the main Dining Terrace Bar restaurant and the très chic LK Café; a Parisienne style offering which serves coffee, crêpes, and pastries by day and moonlights into a wine bar come le soir.

We dine in the former — a stylishly renovated bistro which makes for an aesthetic dining backdrop, though we felt it could have benefitted from more mood lighting (and some music again). The menu here features an inviting choice of dishes: local suppliers including Dempsey’s free-range pork, Beara eggs, and veggies and greens are grown at Dromquinna’s kitchen garden. Dishes are on the pricier side (a vegetarian main kicks things off at €24) but our choices were tasty, portions are bountiful, and were beautifully presented and speckled with edible flowers. Highlights of our picks included a Knockatee blue cheese salad starter, and a main of monkfish served with risotto and mussels, though my summer berry parfait dessert was delivered ice-hard and tricky to navigate. Service was excellent, with particularly vibrant waiting staff throughout our stay who displayed a fantastic mix of professionalism and unforced craic.

The next morning, after a fine slumber in Francis’ linens, we returned downstairs for breakfast. There were plenty of imaginative options here too from mini frittatas to shakshuka, a spicy North African egg dish. I requested a coeliac-tweaked peanut butter toast option which, instead of sourdough and granola, came served on gluten-free bread with shaved almonds — a yummy dish which, with an Americano, came to a decent €11. It must be noted that Lansdowne Kenmare offer room-only rates but given that most hotels seem to factor in €15 if not €20 for breakfast nowadays, this option seemed to work.

The Lansdowne's distinctive facade.
The Lansdowne's distinctive facade.

Check out?

While the Brennans have completed a Trojan task in bringing this refurb to fruition in such a tight and testing timeframe, the Lansdowne Kenmare has a little more room for improvement.

The price is €225 per room per night (excl. breakfast) with a minimum two-night stay in September and all weekends beyond it. In October, prices drop to €205 a night and you can enjoy a third night for free if you book two midweek.

But it’s early days for this hotel in its latest incarnation and the property has so much potential to see its new heyday ahead.

Tom stayed as a guest of the hotel.

Aherne’s Townhouse, Youghal

There’s a certain buzz about Youghal these days. Perhaps due to its stunning new boardwalk or the launch of its new greenway down the tracks. For a base right in the centre of the historic seaside town, check into Aherne’s Townhouse. The family-run operation offers traditional but plush accommodation with all the touches you’d expect from an Ireland’s Blue Book property. If simply passing, pop in for lunch at its seafood bar. Current deals offer one night B&B with a three-course dinner for an excellent €225 per couple.

Kingston’s Townhouse, Killorglin

For another break in The Kingdom, Kingston’s Townhouse in Killorglin offers wanderers a boutique base along the Ring of Kerry. Beyond its cosy accommodation, the hotel makes a popular spot for outdoors lovers with Kingston’s offering hiking packages between the hotel and hiking experts Kerry Climbing. Think ascents to Carrauntoohill by day, artisan Neopolitan pizzas and pints by night. B&B from €125 per couple and guided hike and dine deals from €279 per couple.

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