Hotel Deal Review: Barberstown Castle Hotel
The first thing that strikes you once you get past an exterior of clipped lawns and darting swallows are the names and dates on each door inside Barberstown Castle.
You would be forgiven for thinking that each signature is that of a notable former guest. However, the thirty seven names represent each and every owner in the estates near eight hundred year history, it tells you something of the beauty of the place that so many have wanted to make it their own.
Hidden away in lush countryside of County Kildare, Barberstown Castle is a member of Ireland's Blue Book of historic hotels and is laid out as part 13th century castle and part 18th century country house. Being so rich in history you sense that whilst the past may be important for business, the hotel isn't completely dominated by it. To it's credit Barberstown does manage to feel like a country villa, but it also incorporates all the comforts you would expect from a four star in this price range.
Guest rooms are well detailed with well sized generous en-suite bathrooms. Mahogany four posters and antique furniture make for a comfortable enough stay, but the real charm is when you leave your room and sample the atmosphere.
Having grown through the years from a simple guesthouse to a good sized hotel, the overall experience is one of intimacy rather than intimidation. High ceilings, grandfather clocks and gilt mirrors abound, but the emphasis is relaxed and comfortable rather than polished and grand which makes it the perfect place to unwind.
There are local attractions and hotel activities, but Barberstown is one of those getaways that inspires you to not do much of anything. Unsurprisingly the real draw of the hotel is the food and being led from the bar down a flagstoned passageway into the mirrored walls of the dining room was a wonderful experience. That said, even if the surroundings had not been so charming the food alone would still have been a treat.
In keeping with the french chef, dining here is as much about timing as it is about the fare. Taking the best part of three wonderfully relaxing hours, nothing here is particularly rushed and the experience is all the better for it. By the time the sweet treats had been nibbled and the coffee sipped my three course Table d'Hote menu had turned into six courses ( including a delicious lamb tangine pastry ) and I had enjoyed every single dish on the table.
If you like your country hotels to be staffed by valets with clipped shoes and tight hatted bell-boys the Barberstown will be a sore disappointment. The service is excellent, the presentation is understated and the atmosphere is genteel rather than overawing. At some point I did notice a bell for service, but I was informed by regular residents that it gets pressed in fits of humour rather than in fits of anger. I suppose this is really what makes Barberstown Castle such a good place to relax.
What's the deal :
I took a one night stay at Barberstown Castle priced at €129 PPS. Included is a large en-suite room, luxury dining in the hotel restaurant and a luxury breakfast. The package is currently available on the Barberstown Castle Hotel website
Independent Rating :
Room : 4 / 5
Food : 4 / 5
Service : 5 / 5
Atmosphere : 4 / 5
Value for Money : 5 / 5
Local attractions :
Abbeyfield Equestrian Centre
Straffan Steam Museum
Golf at the local K-Club
The Japanese Gardens at the Irish National Stud
Trout and Salmon fishing on the Liffey
Bru na Boinne - the ancient royal burial site.