Review: Lyrath Estate, Kilkenny
Enormous beds and superb cuisine make this Kilkenny hotel the perfect retreat, says Natalie Butler
BOY has Kilkenny city come of age. Prior to this visit I’d not made it down there in years, and at that time everything shut up shop far too early — I’d been all dressed up with nowhere to go.
It was also hard to get a decent coffee — bars aplenty, not a barista in sight. But all that has changed, and the city is alive and kicking with eager visitors and restaurants such as the award-winning Campagne and the Lady Helen at Mount Juliet, so there is the finest of food to be had.
A little luxury
The five-star Lyrath Estate & Spa, where we laid our heads for an all-too-short night, is something special — and it’s largely down to the staff. An especially warm welcome from Tom set the bar high, but in hot competition were the spa therapist, who soothed me with spirulina, and the cheery manager who ushered my bleary-eyed self in for breakfast at La Perla restaurant. Five-star people.
Our room was enormous, as was my bed — I had to fight my son for it. I can’t remember the |last time I slept so well. Son said the same, despite folding his six-foot frame into a single.
The Oasis Spa is just that — a haven of a place in which |to soak away your stress. Sadly, the hydrotherapy pool was out |of action, and although I didn’t quite find the fountain of youth, I did emerge from my rejuvenating body wrap with a warm glow, soft skin and a surprising appetite.
I don’t know how he did it, but |the chef whisked up a divine seven-course meal for our party in the elegant old house while catering for a wedding party in the modern wing. Butter-soft scallops and luscious lamb were the highlights for me. My son rather took to my dessert — a raspberry and dark chocolate mille-feuille — so I can’t vouch for that dish, but he did.
What else is there?
It would be easier to say what |isn’t. Not only does the hotel have bicycles for pootling about the estate, a 22-seat cinema, games room, gym and pool, it also offers discounted rates for horseriding at Danville House Farm and river adventures via Go With the Flow. In Kilkenny itself, other than the historic castle, there’s plenty to take in. While my son got on his bike with Kilkenny Cycling Tours, I joined the enthusiastic Eveleen Coyle for a Fab Food Trail.
No visit to Kilkenny is complete without a trip to Bridie’s Bar and General Store — packed with history in every pint. And I could have spent all afternoon in the charming Little Green Grocer shop, whose shelves teeter with Irish artisan goodies. I’ll be back. I have a feeling the son might tag along.
Some in our party (i.e. me) found navigation a little challenging, and that was before beverages. Being directed to our room on the second floor, our brains were bewildered when the lift went not up but down. There was also a brief Barton Fink moment en route to the pool: endless corridors.
There's an abundance of offers up for grabs, including family breaks. Summer deals include a one-night midweek bed and breakfast break with one evening meal for the adults and free morning kids' club from €95pps. There's also a two-night midweek B&B with one dinner for the adults and 20pc off spa treatments from €160pps.
Lyrath is 2km from Kilkenny's heart, and a comfortable drive from Dublin on the N7/N10. Despite Siri sending me the wrong way round the ring road, we found it easily.
Lyrath Estate Hotel & Spa, Dublin Road, Kilkenny, tel: 056 7760088; www.lyrath.com; www.fabfoodtrails.ie;
Danville House Farm, tel: 086 120 9210.