This week we welcome back luxury travel advisor Chark Clark of Chad Clark Adventures for his report on the best suites in Ireland’s top hotels, lodges and castles. Since these historic buildings have an array of accommodations, I think you will find his report particularly useful.
- Sheen Falls
- The Merrion
- The Shelbourne
- Killarney Park
- The K Club
- Trump International
- Ashford Castle
1. Ballyfin, Ballyfin, County Laois
Ranked by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure as among the best hotels in Europe, there are only 20 rooms and suites in the mansion sitting on a 614-acre estate. Ballyfin is less than two hours drive from either Shannon or Dublin airports.
The Sir Christopher Coote Suite
Named after the 15th Baronet and the senior member of the Coote family, who took a close personal interest in the restoration of the house built for his great-great-great grandparents, the nearly 1,200 sq. ft. suite enjoys a handsome sitting room, its curved windows looking out to beautiful views over the fountain and the Pleasure Grounds. The decorative theme of the suite is determined by a series of eighteenth-century Chinese wallpaper panels, formerly in the collection of the Prince of Hanover at Schloss Marienburg.
Not a suite, but 549 sq. ft. of and exquisitely decorated in richly patterned wallpaper with a wonderfully carved French bed positioned prominently in the center room. The portrait above the chimney piece, from the studio of Sir Thomas Lawrence, depicts the dashing Marianne Jeffreys of Blarney Castle, County Cork, after whom the room is named. I think this is the most romantic because of the positioning of the bed and its canopy.
At 345 sq. ft., this is a standard size hotel room, however, the bedroom scene evokes a series of summer garden views with flowers, fruit and trees framed in trellis work. The light garden theme is continued on the painted posts of the canopied bed creating the illusion of a bed set in a garden. The murals were painted on canvas in Lucinda’s studio over a six month period and then carefully mounted on the bedroom walls by Lucinda and her assistants. This is one of the recently added rooms. Five were added to the house in late 2014 and it is truly unique as Lucinda created such a realistic mural, you feel as if you are sleeping in a garden.
2. Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare, County Kerry
Sheens Falls Lodge is just 35 miles from Kerry Airport (KIR), an international port, including a 6,562 ft. runway. Overlooking the picturesque Sheen Falls, this 5-star Relais & Chateaux hotel is known for its 2AA Rosette restaurant and luxurious rooms, suites and villas. Set on the Wild Atlantic Way, outside the town of Kenmare, it is a good base.
The Falls Master Suite
The Falls Master Suite is the epitome of comfort with 1,350 sq. ft. of carefully designed space. Architecturally it is stunning. The octagonal shaped drawing room with it’s 20 ft. high ceiling leading up to an oculus is a unique space to be enjoyed. Large windows cover half the wall space in the room looking out on panoramic views including Kenmare Bay in the distance, the Sheen River flowing over the cascading waterfalls and the old 18th century stone bridge. A white limestone fireplace burns wood cut from the coppicing of the surrounding woodlands, its color contrasting with the dark Jatoba wood floor. The private bar area is stylishly incorporated into the room, the perfect location to entertain or to enjoy the elegant grandeur of the room as you sip a cocktail and listen to gentle music. The large bedroom window flows out onto an impressive balcony, which overlooks a pond beside the private stone gated entrance. A separate entrance allows for ease of access and private parking. The “Scarlet Wonder” Rhododendron leads you on a path through the gardens, perfectly at home with the other semi tropical trees and plants that play host to the surrounding landscape. Amenities include fully stocked bar, fruit, chocolates and flowers in the room. There is private check in, within in room if requested. Your fire can even be lit pre arrival once they know your arrival time.
Suite 160 – The Sheen Suite – Signature Suite
Architecturally, The Sheen Suite is stunning. The octagonal shaped room is open plan with double doors that open out to the waterfalls and stone bridge. It also has an open fireplace, giving an element of warmth. Recently refurbished with an emphasis on Irish design and crafts, this is my personal favorite. It has everything. With the open door listening to the sound of the waterfalls, enjoying a book from our librarian’s selection in the room, you can escape in this room. It’s peaceful and relaxing.
My other favorite is technically not at suite, but worth a mention is Marianne’s Cottage. One of four two-bedroom thatched cottages, it overlooks Kenmare Bay and has its own private entrance behind electronic gates.
On the estate, the cottage from the exterior is postcard perfect, thatch room and pink against a setting of green gardens and Kenmare Bay. Two ensuite bedrooms, kitchen, open plan dining room and sitting room and sun lounge overlook Kenmare Bay.
It’s somewhere to seek sanctuary, in elegant surroundings, yet have all the facilities of a 5-star hotel available to you. You get a welcome hamper on arrival, full housekeeping service, chef on request.
3. The Merrion, Dublin
With 123 guest rooms and 19 suites, you will find design light and airy, decorated in colours selected from a subtle palette inspired by one of Paul Henry’s Irish landscape paintings which hang in the Front Hall of the Hotel. Each room is furnished with a King Koil Executive Club 6 bed with 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. During the spring and summer months, guests can enjoy the the Garden Terrace, while the Drawing Rooms, with their open log fires, are perfect for Afternoon Tea at any time of the year. The Tethra Spa’s and infinity swimming pool and steam room provide a way to unwind. The Merrion is home to two bars and two restaurants, including 2 star-Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
The Penthouse Suite
The two-bedroom Penthouse suite in The Merrion’s Garden Wing has played host to heads of state, visiting dignitaries, celebrities, and other guests for whom independence and privacy are vital. The Penthouse is a sumptuously appointed split level apartment that offers 2,200 sq. ft. of living space and boasts private access.
On the ground floor, both bedrooms are en-suite with separate baths and showers. The bedrooms are decorated with Georgian-inspired fabrics, in keeping with the heritage of the hotel.
Upstairs, the carpeted living and dining areas are decorated with exquisite furniture and fabrics. Guests can relax in the Penthouse Suite’s own Music Room, and on the private roof terrace which overlooks the hotel’s classical 18th-century gardens and stunning views of the Dublin Mountains.
Guests visiting The Merrion can choose between our Georgian Main House rooms, or the more contemporary style rooms found in the hotel’s Garden Wing. The Main House rooms are bursting with the character and charm you would expect from a series of buildings that date back to 1760.
The Lord Monck Suite
My personal favorite would be The Lord Monck suite, named after the original occupant one of the Georgian Townhouses, Lord Charles Stanley Monck. The suite features a very unusual curved, boat-shaped ceiling which is adorned with exquisitely restored rococo plasterwork.
The Packenham Suite
Also, suites on the first floor of the Georgian Main House feature 16 ft. high ceilings with large sash windows and beautifully restored original features such as fireplaces and delicate rococo plasterwork. Again, personal favorites would be The Packenham suite which overlooks Dáil Éireann, the house of the Irish Parliament.
4. The Shelbourne, Dublin
The Shelbourne is a 5-star hotel set in a hundreds-year-old building in the center of Dublin. There are high ceilings, big windows bringing in daylight and a full service spa, salon, indoor pool and fitness center. The hotel overlooks St. Stephen’s Green.
The Princess Grace Suite
The Princess Grace Suite is the hotel’s presidential suite and the largest suite within the hotel, where you are welcomed with an entrance hallway adorned with graceful artwork and beautifully captured photography of Princess Grace. The suite spans a spacious lounge area with stunning window seats offering sweeping views of St. Stephen’s Green and the city surrounds. Side by side guests of this suite can enjoy an opulent dining area with seating for up to eight people, master bedroom and spacious marble bathroom, accompanied a second guest bedroom with adjoining en-suite. This one of a kind suite is home to a bespoke furniture collection, both handpicked from Irish designers alongside vintage items restored from The Shelbourne’s own collection. The elegance of this suite is echoed by a selection of literature in honor of its name, Princess Grace, where guests and sit back, relax and journey through time and experience Hollywood royalty from their luxurious suite in the heart of Dublin.
The stay includes champagne on arrival, unpacking and packing of luggage, private 24-hour butler service, breakfast for all guests, complimentary return Dublin Airport transfers, and complimentary newspapers, valet parking, Internet access and daily amenities. Princess Grace stayed here first in 1973, and on her return visits to Dublin, with Prince Rainier, she chose the same hotel, the same room. It was her favorite.
Michael Collins Suite
The one bedroom suites also welcome guests to sheer luxury within a landmark city centre location, from their spacious lounge areas to their opulent bedrooms with elegant sash windows, some with views overlooking St. Stephen’s Green. Some suites are named in honor of those with a special connection the hotel’s history. One such example is the Michael Collins Suite, named in honor of Michael Collins, a famous politician who was a leading figure in Ireland’s independence and in the drafting of the Irish Constitution here in the hotel’s own Constitution Room named after the historic event it was host to.
This one bedroom suite named in his honor, boasts a large lounge with elegant fireplace, Waterford Crystal Chandelier and Irish literature for guests to enjoy with views of St Stephen’s Green as their backdrop. The adjoining bedroom also enjoys views over St. Stephen’s green, a window side seating area where a bespoke Foxford blanket. It is these personal touches amongst others and historical connections which add another level to the guest experience.
Peter O’Toole Suite
I also like the Peter O’Toole suite, who also stayed in the hotel on many occasions and on one such occasion, he decided that he needed to bath in Champagne following a long day at theatre rehearsals.
The Heritage Park View Rooms cannot go unmentioned. They boast beautiful views over St. Stephen’s Green, tastefully restored with an inviting calm palette of blues, granite greys and so to furnished with exclusive welcome amenities, welcome literature of Irish Heritage alongside in-room Bose speakers, Nespresso Coffee machines for coffee lovers alongside bespoke china and elegant crystal stemware.
5. Killarney Park Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry
Killarney Park has seven suites, all individually named, and all suites come with fresh flowers, and platters of fruit and cookies. Use the hotel as a base to see the coastline of Kerry, including UNESCO Heritage sites and stunning scenery.
The 1,500 sq. ft. Master Suite includes two bedrooms, a living room overlooking Killarney Gardens with working fireplace and a fully fitted kitchen. Additional amenities include a pastry basket daily, plus complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks.
The 850 sq. ft Killarney Suite features high ceilings with a separate living room, spacious bedroom area and a contemporary bathroom. The furniture uses richly textured fabrics styled in a warm, country palette. Relax by a lit fire in the sitting room.
6. K Club, Straffan, County Kildare
One of the best known estate hotels in Ireland, K Club remains a must visit and also is an excellent venue for weddings, family celebrations and corporate meetings. Golfers flock to The Ryder Cup Course designed by Arnold Palmer, site of 11 European Open Championships. There is an extensive spa, plus fishing, falconry, sporting clays, archery, horse riding, biking and kayaking. Only 23 miles from Dublin’s airport, it has easy access if members of your group are flying commercially.
The 1,720 sq. ft. Imperial Suite is the most lavish unit at The K Club and is ideal for families looking for a luxurious, private getaway. You can sleep two adults, two teenagers and two younger children. The master bedroom is home to a four poster bed, and the suite comes with the option of a second bedroom. The elegant hand-painted bathroom features a separate bath and shower, while guests can delve into complete relaxation with their very own private in-room sauna. Stunning views over the gardens and the River Liffey await guests, who will be catered for with their own 24-valet service. Everything you could possibly want is included in the room, from a Nespresso coffee machine to a large flat screen television and air conditioning, ensuring that guests will enjoy a stylishly private stay.
My favorite place to stay at The K Club is The Viceroy Suite (Room 41), at 1,500 sq. ft. an elegant residence that is steeped in the history of the hotel. It brings guests into old world beauty with its elegant master bedroom that comes with a hand-painted bathroom complete with your very own Jacuzzi. The suite design was a homage to the master bedroom of the original house at The K Club, Straffan House, and the king size bed has been lined up perfectly to look out over the stunning gardens, making this an ideal space for honeymooners or those in search of a romantic escape. You also have 24 hour valet service.
7. Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg, County Clare
One of my favorite hotels in Europe, the 5-star Trump International Doonbeg awaits guests with large accommodations, fine amenities, and dedicated service. Trump International Doonbeg offers a wealth of attractions including world-class links golf, rejuvenating treatments from their spa, fine dining, as well as exciting sports and sightseeing offerings. Suited to all visitors, including group travelers, the suites are crafted to ensure space, comfort, and privacy. It’s Old World luxury with curated furnishings, art and antiques.
Ocean View Suite 14
This four bedroom, 3,000 sq. ft. Ocean View Suite 14 is spans two floors, including a private kitchen, separate sitting room and grand fireplace. Bedrooms boast 6 x 6 ft. king beds and oversize bathrooms stocked with handmade Irish toiletries. Suite 14 is one of The Ocean View Suites collection, one to four bedroom suites, all situated in the main building, which also hosts the award winning Ocean View Restaurant and the Members Bar & Restaurant. Suite 14 offers views of the 18th hole of the one of Irelands top championship golf courses Doonbeg, which sits on a mile and a half of the Doughmore Beach met by the Atlantic Ocean. And in the distance, beyond the end of this crescent moon shaped beach, you have majestic views of the Cliffs of Moher.
The village of Doonbeg has a population of 784, and 250 of them work in the hotel and golf club, so no matter where you go you will be looked after.
8. Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo
It’s a Royal adventure in an 800-year-old castle on 350 acres. Former home of the Guinness family, Ashford Castle is a destination unto itself with yearround activities. There is an extesnive spa, clay shooting, archery, cycling, tree climbing, zip-lining, golf, tennis, horse riding, lake cruises, row boats, falconry and fishing. There are over a dozen bars and restaurants, and even a private cinema. Galway Airport (4,226 ft. runway) is 26 miles and Ireland West Knock Airport (7,546 ft. runway) is 39 miles from Ashford Castle, both with customs facilities.
Reagan Presidential Suite:
The height of elegance is named after Ronald Reagan who stayed at Ashford in 1984 as a personal friend of former owner John A. Mulcahy. The Reagan Presidential Suite (Room 221) is located in the oldest wing of the castle, with an original fireplace, a stunning antique George III style four poster bed, original portrait art, individually sourced antiques and spectacular floor to ceiling views of Lough Corrib. This split level suite offers two bathrooms and can be combined with two adjacent rooms for a private three bedroom wing of the castle with The Kennedy Suite (Room 224) and a Corrib Lake View Room (Room 222.) Amenities include Champagne and chocolate on arrival, complimentary canapés delivered each evening, complimentary bar, a daily gift delivered to you room, 24-hour housekeeping and 24-hour in-room dining.
Any of the rooms, as they are located in the oldest side of the castle and the additional two rooms would be definitely my favorite of all the 83 rooms (and Hideaway Cottage) they have at Ashford Castle.