There are some moments where I'm very grateful I get to experience new, beautiful places for my job. This is one of those times.
Nestled among the foothills of the McGillycuddy Reeks with an unrivalled vista. In Killarney alone, there are four five star hotels, in wider Kerry, three more. In the capital of luxury accommodation, The Europe enjoys an enviable occupancy rate of its 187 bedrooms year round. We travel from Dublin by train, so the floor to 20-foot ceiling windows exposing its panoramic view.
There are no bad rooms in The Europe. The architecture means most rooms are facing the spectacular Lakes of Killarney, with an accompanying balcony; but all have impressive square footage of comfortable luxury. Prices for the Lakeview Room start at €330 B&B for two guests sharing per night.
For the big spender, there are a number of suites including the One Bedroom Suite, Penthouse Suite and Presidential Suite, which features a spacious living area and balcony bigger than most one bedroom apartments. Not to mention some seriously inspiring décor.
Breakfast: An impressive selection of continental, traditional and gluten free options are available in the Panorama restaurant. Its egg station is worth the hype.
Lunch: Let me make it clear: I wholeheartedly endorse any spa that serves alcohol. Enjoy a glass of wine and late lunch at The Spa Café, which boasts cocktails coupled with an outrageously fresh-tasting lunch.
Dinner: Casual dining at The Brasserie is casual only in its name and the flexible dress code. Its identity is a mix between a gastropub and the Hamptons, while all the food is locally sourced.
Dining at the Panorama is an experience, least of all its for remarkable view – if the name of the restaurant didn’t already give it away. During the weekends, things are unsurprisingly busy and everyone from tourists, locals and a few others travelling around the country for a sneak peek at the fabled five star hotel in the capital of Ireland’s luxury accommodation epicentre. As we wait in the reception area; there’s a child eating pizza in his pyjamas with his parents, to my right, a young couple on a date. Things in the Panorama are more formal, as expected, without being stuffy. Our waiter is cracking jokes and there are no fewer than three birthdays being celebrated in our surrounds.
Drinks: There are two official bars on the premises, but dozens of nooks and crannies to enjoy a drink. The terrace adjoining the Brasserie is sleek and the perfect pre-dinner spot, especially when the sun is out in summer. The Bar, on the other hand, is more of a cosy and ideal for sipping on a hot whiskey during winter.
The ESPA has a slew of awards and it’s easy to understand why. The site itself is something to behold, boasting two levels and an indoor pool which blends into an outdoor infinity pool, where you can splash around with the view of the Killarney Lakes.
There is a separate indoor and outdoor vitality pool, which separates men and women and depending on your company, and your compatibility, in some cases, can be a godsend. The thermal suite with a salt water pool, ice fountain and sauna makes for an unforgettable experience. Fitness classes are also available including spinning, TRX and Kettlebells. I’d like to say I tried them, but I’d be lying to you, reader.
I opt for the Intense Muscle Release Massage, and is, without exaggeration, the best massage I’ve ever had. The hi-tech setting means even the slightest glimmer of light won’t make it past the electric shades and it’s hard not fall asleep on the heated, folding bed which moves to ensure your circulation keeps flowing healthily. Consider the bar raised.
You need to explore these grounds to fully appreciate the views. Walk to the dock’s edge just a few yards from the restaurant for some memorable pictures. Enjoy complimentary horse riding for grazing the grounds, but true equestrian lovers can expand the 20-minute tour with Killarney Riding Stables for treks through the National Park up to three hours.
I have a pet peeve about restaurants that don’t take reservations and unfortunately, The Brassiere operates on a first come, first serve basis. But it’s hard to complain when your waiting area comes with an unparalleled view and if your company is of the same calibre, you’re in good hands.
I haven’t received as much of a reaction - either before or after – my visit to The Europe, with most considering it their favourite hotel in Ireland. I suggest you try it for yourself.