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Hotel Review: If six stars were a thing, Adare Manor would have them... but is it worth the price?

Adare Manor has taken another leap forward with the addition of a stunning new pool and Padel Club. But is the experience worth the sky-high summer rates?

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Adare Manor

Adare Manor

The new pool at the Padel Club

The new pool at the Padel Club

Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage

Adare

Adare

Padel tennis at the Padel Club, Adare Manor

Padel tennis at the Padel Club, Adare Manor

The TruGolf Simulator with its TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor at the Padel Club

The TruGolf Simulator with its TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor at the Padel Club

The exterior of Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

The exterior of Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

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Adare Manor

“It’s 842 acres; one less than Central Park,” says Seán Mulcahy, the Villa Receptionist welcoming us to Adare Manor.

As staycation bubbles go, this Co Limerick layover may trump them all. Not content with a multi-million euro makeover pre-pandemic, it’s back with a new ‘Padel Club’ — an extravagant, cedar-clad spaceship of a leisure centre in the woods. Its restaurant has a Michelin star, the Ryder Cup tees off in 2027, and the opulent ‘A’ monogram is everywhere. If six stars were a thing, I assure you, it would have them.

This gorgeous, gated exclusivity comes at a price, of course. With no overseas visitors to speak of, the summer of 2021 offers more availability for Irish guests looking to splurge or celebrate special occasions, but B&B rates start from €725. The question I’m often asked: is it worth it?

The Rating: 9/10

Arrival & Location

Adare is one of Ireland’s worst traffic bottlenecks, but once you’re done with that, and the polite-but-firm security at the gates, it’s onwards into another universe.

Gun dog demonstrations are underway on the lawns; golf balls plop onto greens smooth as snooker tables. Inside the main house, set-pieces like the Great Hall and Gallery are a delicious mix of Hogwarts and Downton Abbey, with hideaways like the Tack Room bar, or the tasteful spa, providing nooks for decadence and pampering.

It’s an idyll that feels both manicured and natural — somewhere you might spot a red squirrel or jay, followed by a guest arriving by helicopter, or an influencer snapping their picnic.

“We’re spoiled here,” says Liam Forde, who leads us in a falconry experience (€240 for two) culminating in an eagle flying around the walled garden. Carriage rides, archery, fishing and shooting are other pursuits to try.

I’d love more access along the river (it’s mostly exclusive to golfers), but you can see why many guests stay on site, not wishing to burst the bubble.9.5/10

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Service & style

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The new pool at the Padel Club

The new pool at the Padel Club

The new pool at the Padel Club

Staffing is hospitality’s hot topic, so it’s reassuring that everyone we encounter feels like they’ve been back for months. Staff wear their work lightly, from doormen handing us bikes to the sommelier suggesting an Albariño to straddle two fish dishes (“It’s like you are by the sea”). Playlists serenading us in the Carriage House and drawing rooms have a touch of elevator-music about them, but overall, the tone is gracious and well-judged.

After its 2017 reopening, many guests commented on the resort’s small pool (myself included). It responded with the new Padel Club. The resort won’t say how much it cost, but stepping into a moodily-lit reception with panels of living moss on the walls, the McManus family’s commitment to the “Beyond Everything” motto is clear.

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Padel tennis at the Padel Club, Adare Manor

Padel tennis at the Padel Club, Adare Manor

Padel tennis at the Padel Club, Adare Manor

The pool is a slinky, mosaic-tiled beauty, ending in an infinity edge with windows peering into the forest. Padel Tennis (from €110 for four) is like a mix of tennis and squash — we get a lesson on the indoor courts from manager Gerry O’Halloran, using the walls to spray balls around and spark muscles lost in lockdown. It feels posh and strange, but is undeniable craic.

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The TruGolf Simulator with its TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor at the Padel Club

The TruGolf Simulator with its TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor at the Padel Club

The TruGolf Simulator with its TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor at the Padel Club

We also try the TruGolf Simulator with its TrackMan 4 Launch Monitor in a room that feels like a private cinema, though our embarrassing efforts here make clear why we go nowhere near the actual course. 9/10

The rooms

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The exterior of Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

The exterior of Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

The exterior of Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

Did you know Adare Manor does self-catering? Refurbished manor lodges and two storybook stone cottages sit near the Carriage House, a gentle walk from the manor. Giant beds with goose-down duvets, marble-floored bathrooms and an understated, country-luxe feel in the Rose Cottage, where we stay, easily complement the main house rooms (though the suites are still pick of the bunch for a splash).

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One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

There was no Netflix or TV streaming for Apple devices, and I’d prefer to see an alternative to mini-toiletries, but these are small notes, really. Swanning around in the softest, most luxurious robes I’ve ever pulled from a wardrobe, we felt to the manor born. 9/10

Food & drink

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DIning at the Oak Room, Adare Manor

DIning at the Oak Room, Adare Manor

DIning at the Oak Room, Adare Manor

The Oak Room is Adare Manor’s flagship dining experience, a fairly exquisite mix of tasting menus and theatre overseen by chef Mike Tweedie. Our meal starts with hand sanitiser brought in smoking oyster shells, and proceeds to deliver course after course of food and wine pairings as dusk descends over the River Maigue.

Highlights include a cured wild boar consommé with Parmesan raviolo, and Doonbeg crab set in a courgette flower within a basil bouillabaisse. The menus start from €100pp, and you’ll need to prepare for a meal that takes hours — not everyone enjoys this fussy style of dining, but it’s executed well.

For us, a big surprise is the Carriage House. I’d expected decent, clubby fare, but the space, dinner and service combine to lift a really lovely second evening at roughly half the price. The room feels comfortable in Covid; it’s large and leafy, with high ceilings and big, black steel-framed screen windows. Menu highlights include scallops with hazelnut lemongrass jus (€23), and monkfish dabbed with glorious dots of crispy chicken crumb (€32). 8.5/10

The bottom line

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One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

One of the bedrooms at Rose Cottage. Photo by Jack Hardy

So, is it worth it? The answer is relative — is it worth flying first class, buying a Fendi handbag, or staying at Ashford Castle or Ballyfin? If you can afford it, the quality is supreme. The McManus family set out to transform Adare Manor into one of Europe’s finest resorts, and they’ve done that. Checking out, I tell Seán Mulcahy that we feel spoiled. “Sure that’s what we do here,” he replies.

Insider tip

B&B rates drop briefly to €550 a night on certain dates in October and November. Let’s call it a relative bargain.

Local 101

Eating off-resort? Try Wade and Elaine Murphy’s 1826 in Adare, or the new Treehouse cabins at Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel nearby.

Rates

B&B starts from €725 per room, with three-bed cottages from €1,700 a night (two-night min). adaremanor.com

Pól was a guest of the resort.


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