Thanks to its attention to detail, the K Club is a five-star hotel like no other, says Marie Toft.
I FIND hotel star ratings fascinating. My brief foray into the research behind it has revealed different systems for different countries.
So, for example, the French value rooms, foyers and amenities while Ireland tends to focus more on customer service.
I’ve been lucky and privileged enough to stay in some very high class hotels and there have been several times where I’ve wondered if the establishment I’m in deserves five stars.
(My husband maintains if it’s a buffet breakfast, it shouldn’t be five-star. I have pointed out that it’s far from five-star we were both raised.)
Paradoxically there have been others where the warmth of the welcome and great hospitality shown has made me pause and wonder why they don’t have the maximum rating.
But when I saw the cookies on the plate in our children’s room with their names iced on to them in chocolate, I suspected the K Club was going to be a truly five-star experience.
And so it proved to be. I’ve rarely stayed in a hotel that so deserves its five-star rating.
We only got to taste its luxury for one brief night but I’m reliably informed that international guests book in for weeks at a time to get the opportunity to literally live like lords and ladies.
The K Club is a beautiful French Chateau style house that dates back to 1832 and is nestled in a 550-acre site in the rolling Kildare countryside on the banks of the River Liffey.
This position lends itself to gracious living and guests can step back in time and enjoy aristocratic pursuits such as horse riding, archery, clay pigeon shooting and falconry.
But opulence and activities don’t a five-star make unless they’re matched with an attention to detail and a warm welcome.
And we were treated to this immediately. We arrived in the early afternoon and decided to take a turn around the grounds (we were getting into this aristocratic living).
But on returning, we realised we’d missed the opportunity for our two kids to enjoy the leisure club facilities as the window for the children’s time was over.
We were reassured this wouldn’t be a problem, a quick phone call was made, we were ushered over to the swimming pool and invited to stay as long as we chose.
This warmth and helpfulness were consistent features of our stay at the K Club.
The hotel underwent a massive €20 million refurbishment and extension in 2015 and our room was one of the 70 new bedrooms in the extended Liffey wing.
But there is no discernible difference between the new build and the nineteenth century part of the hotel with hand painted countryside scenes and French style wallpaper throughout.
We had adjoining bedrooms with huge canopy beds (our nine-year-old daughter Liadh was delighted with her princess bed), spacious bathrooms with deep baths and comfy armchairs and couches.
Awaiting us were champagne on ice, along with petits fours and the aforementioned personalised cookies.
These are rooms you don’t want to leave and I’ve rarely stayed put in a hotel room as much as this one. It is pure luxury.
We only had one night at the K Club so we were determined to experience fine dining at its River Room restaurant.
Thankfully our two children were fascinated with its ceremony and opulence and the four of us were able to enjoy a remarkable meal without having to hand out mobile phones or iPads to alleviate boredom.
Courses included scallops with onion ice-cream (an amazing taste experience) along with rabbit terrine and cod with spinach and almond puree, wild mushroom and fennel juice foam.
But there are several other dining experiences on offer, including its Legends Bistro which overlooks the golf courses.
As part of the new extension, the hotel has opened a new Thai restaurant along with the Media Puzzle Lounge, a brand new bar named after its owner Michael Smurfit’s Melbourne Cup winning horse.
You can’t write about the K Club without mentioning its two championship golf courses, both designed by Arnold Palmer. Many of us witnessed Rory McIroy win his first Irish Open here in May last year in front of 25,000 ecstatic fans.
But in 2006 the K Club was also the venue for the Ryder Cup, the first time the event was ever staged in Ireland.
The Pool Hall forms the centre of the hotel’s spa which also contains seven individual treatment rooms as well as a fully equipped gym, weights room and Pilates studio.
I’ve already mentioned some of the aristocratic activities available to guests and other amenities include tennis, air rifle shooting, walking and cycling, with wine cellar and whiskey tasting and an Art History tour for those less physically inclined.
This huge self-contained estate literally means you never have to leave.
However it’s worth bearing in mind that this rural idyll is only half an hour from Dublin which actually makes it feasible to use the K Club as a base to explore the capital and then retreat back into its peaceful setting.
And of course, Kildare makes up one of the 17 counties of Ireland’s Ancient East. County highlights include The National Stud and Japanese Gardens along with the Punchestown and Curragh Racecourses.
Meath’s Newgrange and Wicklow’s Glendalough are also close.
The K Club is currently offering its Escape the Winter Blues package which features one night’s accommodation, a four-course dining experience in The River Room and 20% off spa treatments for €125 per person sharing.
Offer is available throughout February.
Gourmet breaks and other special deals are also available.
Be an aristocrat for a weekend in a French style Chateau and become to the manor born.
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