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Review: Carton House, Co. Kildare

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Carton House, winter

Carton House, winter

Carton House, suite bedroom

Carton House, suite bedroom

Carton House

Carton House

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Carton House, winter

From sneaky short breaks to Irish rugby camps, Carton House is forging a name for itself as one of Ireland’s slickest all-rounders.

HIGH POINTS: A 1,100-acre demesne and the peach of a Palladian house at its core make Carton House (built by Richard Cassels, the “starchitect” responsible for Powerscourt and Russborough) a stunning set-piece. Don’t be fooled by the walled estate, however — this is a very accessible night away.

Georgian grandeur is tastefully integrated with the modern add-ons — glass corridors whisk you to the contemporary bedroom wing, restaurant and spa, for example; splashes of contemporary art play off the old stone walls, and the original kitchen stoves retain their place in the bar… A lovely mix of old and new.

LOW POINTS: Guests can sleep in the main house, but its drawing rooms seem largely devoted to functions and weddings. I wish they felt less out-of-bounds… Also, while we enjoyed a yummy breakfast at The Linden Tree, dinner at The Coach House was disappointing. Bland décor and an enormous (and overcooked) kids’ burger were only just rescued by friendly service and a succulent fish ‘n’ chips. Such “clubhouse” fare would be blown away by a good gastropub.

CONCIERGE’S CHOICE: Check in was warm and welcoming, and we enjoyed a beautiful 3km walk through the estate. If you visit before December 30, be sure to check out the Vanishing Art sculpture exhibition (www.vanishingart.ie) in the gardens. It’s fun and engaging for both adults and kids.

BEST FOR: If you’re the his ‘n’ her types who like to golf and spa, then Carton House is a no-brainer. But it’s far more than that, too. Estate walks, fishing, a wonderfully warm 18m pool and afternoon tea in the swanky public spaces all add up to a super short-break option on Dublin’s doorstep.

ROOM TO BOOK: Its contemporary rooms are spacious and comfortable, but the stand-out suites are in the original Carton House. Lady Emily’s suite is a stunner, with a stand-alone tub and modern art mixing seamlessly with old fireplaces, sash windows and country views. There’s a neat turn-down service, too.

GUESTS OF HONOUR: Queen Victoria, Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier and sports teams like Real Madrid and Newcastle United have all stayed. A favourite with the Irish rugby squad.

RATES: Carton house currently has B&B from €65pp, and one night’s B&B with dinner in the Linden Tree restaurant from €110pp.

Contact: 01-505 2000; www.cartonhouse.com

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