Something for the weekend: the Castlewood House Hotel
This charming guesthouse is one of Kerry’s gems, writes Graham Clifford
It’s a bleak and blustery night in west Kerry as I peer through the sheets of rain in search of the multi-award winning Castlewood House Hotel.
I spot the sign when just past Dingle and pull into the driveway. The wind howls and I struggle to the hotel entrance dripping from head to foot.
But as soon as I enter the homely boutique bed and breakfast, which TripAdvisor has showered with titles such as ‘the best small hotel in Ireland’ and ‘the best bargain hotel in the world’, tranquillity washes over me.
The day before I arrive the lady of the manor Helen Heaton gave birth to twin girls in Tralee but her husband Brian holds the fort at home and is on hand to extend Castlewood House’s now world-famous welcome.
A tastefully decorated lobby complete with comfortable sofas, flickering candles, mirrors and antique furniture draws you in.
The walls are decorated with local and international art (including from Louth’s Irene Woods) and though the building was erected in 2005 it has an old-style inviting charm.
New dad Brian can’t do enough for me, even offering to carry my case to the bedroom.
He’ll be getting a good workout once his twin daughters are home so I decline his kind offer.
The open space and attention to detail make you want to lock yourself in here for days on end.
My room includes a supreme Kingsized bed, exquisite antique furniture seamlessly integrated with modern artwork and elegant lamps. On a table sits Heritage of Ireland by Nathaniel Harris, a photographic collection of the country’s landscapes and people – fitting for the corner of Kerry I find myself in. In the morning when I wake I don’t even have to leave my bed to see Dingle Bay shimmering in the early sun.
These deserve a mention all to themselves. Big round mirrors, fluffy towels, a large enamel farmhouse-style sink and a selection of ‘Argan source’ bathing lotions and potions give the bathroom that spa-experience feel.
The guesthouse has 12 rooms with all but one having a view of the sea. As one recent American guest wrote in the comment book, ‘The tranquillity of this place and the care we received have been simply second-to-none. Castlewood had everything we needed” — and if you fancy a pampered break away for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for such treatment elsewhere you won’t be disappointed. There may not be a leisure centre but a deep soak in the whirlpool jacuzzi bath before slipping into soft white bathrobes and slippers will bring that stress level right down.Atlantic scenery outside the dining room with soft music playing in the background, inside they can treat themselves to some fresh Dingle Bay kippers, homemade pancakes with maple syrup or a smoked salmon omelette. The breakfast menu goes on and on dripping with mouthwatering offerings.
Mainly couples, you can see its appeal for romantic weekends and short breaks .
Fancy popping the big question on the Dingle Peninsula?
Well the staff at Castlewood House can arrange everything including access to private beaches nearby and an ancient castle for the bendedknee moment.
They can also arrange a private butler, champagne on ice and a romantic gourmet picnic — all for €150.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE HOTEL IN THREE WORDS?
Elegant, romantic, sophisticated.
Perhaps the car park could be bigger.
WOULD YOU GO BACK?
Go back? It took all my strength to tear me away from the place.
NEED TO KNOW
Book in advance to avoid disappointment. Prices range from €49 per person for the classic room (off-season) to €92 a head for a night in the Junior suite during the summer months. Special packages also available — especially for honeymooners.
www.castlewooddingle.com or call 066 9152788.