With big sis in tow, Karen Funnell left the city stresses behind in the perfect pamper spot of Kilkenny’s Lyrath Estate.
I’d never been to Kilkenny and managed to get myself hopelessly lost in Friday evening traffic on my first visit to the medieval city.
With Google Maps dying alongside an uncharged iPhone, a helpful petrol station employee helped guide me to the Lyrath Estate, just a few minutes’ drive away from the town centre when you know where you’re going.
It didn’t take long to forget all about the sting of rush hour.
The place is spectacular — located on 170 acres of mature parkland, it’s a stunning setting for a five-star hotel.
My guest for the occasion was my sister, a self-confessed shopaholic who’d travelled up from Galway with a view to putting a sizeable dent in her credit card (she had indulged in the city’s ample stores on a previous visit).
However, shopping was put to one side as we took in the breathtaking views and pledged to go for a walk around the estate the following morning.
It was getting dark, we were tired from driving — and getting lost — and we felt the need to dump our cases and unwind with a glass of Merlot.
First impressions were certainly positive — and lasting.
We were warmly greeted by a porter who — we later learned — has worked at the hotel for over 50 years.
He certainly seemed to take great pride in his role at the establishment — and you can’t put a price on a valued member of staff.
The Lyrath is in the process of being renovated and it’s a work in progress, so there are some areas more plush than others — but you can see that it’s all going to be fabulous when the refurb is complete.
We were staying in a deluxe balcony room, which is about 35sq m and beautifully kitted out with outdoor balcony area overlooking breathtaking views of the estate, individually controlled air conditioning, a queen-sized bed and single bed, bath, and his and hers walk-in shower with a separate toilet to the bathroom.
Unlike some hotel rooms, it wasn’t stiflingly warm and the rooms had the feel of a peaceful haven where you could really chill out and unwind. Which is exactly what we did.
We had dinner in La Perla, which was buzzing on this particular Friday night. Portion sizes were not massive but they were ample for us.
For starters, we opted for roast Dunmore scallops and confit of chicken wings with aubergine and chicken sauce and were delighted with both choices.
For a main, my sister chose a Duck Tortellini Orange with white onion and heritage carrots, and I threw caution to the wind and plumped for wild venison with boudin, Jerusalem artichoke, pear and pepper cream.
I had only tasted venison on one occasion previously and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with my second stab at it.
One ultra rich and decadent chocolate dessert later and we were almost ready to turn in for the night.
However, we found room for a couple of gin and tonics in the contemporary X-Bar — well it would have been rude not to!
There’s plenty to do at the Lyrath, whether it’s all action or a lazy spa day that floats your boat.
This place ticks all the boxes —ideal for a romantic getaway, a family break or — in our case — two sisters in need of a bit of pampering. It can cater for it all.
If you’ve come for a chill-out, you may want to enjoy a good book over afternoon tea in The White Room, which overlooks the courtyard and lake.
Or take a walk around the mature parklands, and spot the host of native wildlife including ducks, rabbits and squirrels.
The lake is a perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny day and for the more active there are signposted walks of 2.5km and 5km. Bicycles are also available.
If you come with younger children, the Tree House Fun Club offers a full programme of activities during school holidays and the summer, including adventure races, treasure hunts and nature trails organised and supervised by experienced children’s entertainers.
For the older kids, there’s a snooker room and a console room equipped with Xbox and Playstation. And movie buffs can enjoy a great selection of classics from the DVD library and there’s also a 22-seater private cinema.
The purpose of our visit was pure indulgence and I couldn’t wait to experience the Oasis Spa.
I had a body massage and facial with Elemis spa products (designed to respect the body’s complex physiology to quote the literature) and was left feeling somewhere between re-energised and half asleep.
All topped up with a chill-out in the thermal suite, a dip in the pool and as many minutes in the sauna that I could endure.
WHAT TO DO
You may not feel the need to venture out of the estate but if you do, Kilkenny has plenty to offer.
If history isn’t your thing, there’s always shopping in the MacDonagh Junction shopping centre and the city boasts a wealth of fine bars and restaurants if you choose to dine out of the hotel.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As a spring offer, there’s a great deal on offer at the Lyrath — midweek two nights B&B with one evening meal and afternoon cream tea from only €169pps (limited spaces).
Another great week-night offer is one night B&B, dinner in either La Perla or Yindees restaurant (open alternate nights midweek), 30-minute spa treatment each in Oasis Spa (choose one from six treatment options) and a €15 per person lunch.
redit voucher for Tupper’s Bar — with prices starting from €147pps.
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