Adare Manor is no-expense-spared labour of love created by a billionaire owner — and it makes a wonderful weekend away, as Octavia Pollock discovered.
Irish hospitality lives up to its reputation at Adare Manor. A 19th-century calendar house, built by Lady Caroline Wyndham and her husband, the 2nd Earl of Dunraven, its construction offered a lifeline during the devastating Potato Famine.
In 2015, Adare was bought by the ultimate local-boy-made-good, the billionaire J. P. McManus, who immediately set about transforming it. After only 22 months of work, Adare reopened as the most luxurious of hotels: the new wing, which features a ballroom where weddings can be celebrated without disturbing other guests, blends seamlessly into the old part.
Mr McManus’s dream is to host the Ryder Cup and, thanks to a superb golf course designed by Tom Fazio, that wish will be fulfilled in 2026 — a podium of sculpted grass steps is already in place. Noble trees overlook the smooth swards, including the oldest cedar of Lebanon in the British Isles, and trout await fly-fishermen in the clear tumbling waters of the River Maigue.
It’s a grand place, from the soaring Gothic hall, with embracing armchairs and books on Irish architecture, stairs designed by Pugin and a spectacular 132ft-long Gallery where you take breakfast. Yet for all that, the manor itself feels like a home, with muddy boots allowed and sit-up-and-beg bikes waiting by the door for exploring the grounds. Luxurious and full of thoughtful touches, this is a hotel with heart.
Rooms at Adare Manor start at €325 (£280) per night, for a Classic room (00 353 61 605 200; www.adaremanor.com)
Food and drink
Take breakfast in the aforementioned Gallery, where sunshine gleams through stained glass as tables are crowded with plates of kippers and eggs Benedict, homemade pastries and lime-and-tequila marmalade from Co Tipperary.
After lunch in The Drawing Room and dinner in The Oak Room, it was clear to me why head chef Michael Tweedie and his team received their first Michelin star in 2019.
A map on the menu reveals ingredients’ origins — ‘local’ is far more than a buzzword here — and the food shows true imagination. Jaffa cake for pudding, anyone?
Downstairs in the vaulted Tack Room bar, cocktail impresarios whip up concoctions of whisk(e)y and bitters, liqueurs and gins, named for the mythical beasts that adorn the manor and served in everything from teacups to glass birds.
Things to do
Play golf: as mentioned above, the golf course at Adare Manor is much a labour of love for JP McManus as the rest of the hotel — and we’ve previously written of its efforts to become known as ‘The Irish Augusta’. On the coast a short drive away is an equally superb, yet entirely different test at the beautiful links of Lahinch.
- Have a cross-country lesson on well-schooled horses at Clonshire equestrian centre, 15 minutes away next to the Co Limerick Foxhounds kennels.
- Relax with a Misneach Inner Strength treatment in the spa, followed by a mindfulness walk in the fairy wood. Even the most sceptical of patrons will feel at peace after a spell amid oak, willow and ash.
- Browse George Stacpoole’s antique shop in Adare for hunting prints and silver.
- Try falconry or archery — spearing an apple in the style of William Tell (small boy not included) — in the walled garden, followed by mouthwatering salt-aged beef in the Jazz Age-style The Carriage House.
- Explore Adare’s 840 acres by horse-drawn carriage, Irish coffee in hand.
- Enjoy a walked-up or driven day at the Mulberry Shoot in Co Clare; the chance to watch and work gundogs is also available.
- Spend a convivial evening at Durty Nelly’s pub, with impromptu live music in the shadow of Bunratty Castle.