Eagle eyed readers will remember I gushed about my love of Kerry here. Guess what? I’m doing it again now! Yes, Kerry is possibly my favourite place in Ireland. I know it’s an obvious choice and some would argue it’s shamelessly touristy but Kerry’s scenic beauty, traditional charm and cosy hospitality make it a 10/10 Irish destination in my book. What’s more, Killarney has a seemingly endless amount of quality places to stay from homely B&Bs to plush four and five star hotels. Wanna know my favourite so far? The Brehon.
THE HOTEL…For non-Irish readers, The Brehon gets its name from old Irish law which said you were obliged to offer hospitality to anyone who came a-knocking at your door. Big shoes to fill but thankfully the hotel doesn’t disappoint. Hotel staff can make or break your hotel experience but the hospitality and professionalism of the Brehon’s team is second to none and, cheesy as it sounds, the hotel invites you in with open arms from the second you walk in. Think real fireplaces, warm hues and elegantly kitted out open spaces. As for bedrooms, they’re spacious, modern and the slick marble bathroom adds that extra splash of luxury, as well as being about the size of my flat. Even though I visited during the summer, I remember thinking the hotel was the perfect place to cosy up and shake off the winter chill.
LOCATION…. Of course, a classy hotel is nothing without an equally picture-perfect location but The Brehon has this in the bag. Overlooking the scenic beauty of Killarney National Park, The Brehon’s rooms offer views of the often dramatic, always beautiful Kerry landscape. For a city girl like me this is a priceless treat to wake up to.
THINGS TO DO…The obvious answer to this is “the pub!” but I’ve got a better suggestion. A fun way to see Killarney’s breathtaking beauty is to cycle it. During my stay the hotel had a cycling package so guests could get a bike, helmet, an all-important map and a packed lunch to kickstart their adventure through The Killarney National Park. After stocking up on a filling buffet breakfast, we got on our bikes and headed down the Muckross Road for the National Park. The cycling route is a challenging 10km but the spectacular scenery of mountains, lakes and the occasional ruins, meant there were surprises at every turn. One pit stop not to miss is Muckross Abbey, the burial place of Kerry’s poets O’Donoghue, O’Rathaille and O’Suilleabhain and the well-preserved ruins of a Franciscan friary. A large yew tree has now sprouted in the central courtyard and the still intact arched windows throw light on these historic remains. About three quarters of the way around the Park, we found Dinis Cottage, a cosy café to quench your thirst with a cuppa, or just unpack your picnic from the hotel, catch a breather and take in the calm beauty of the lake. Just don’t let your pins relax too much – there’s still a long way to go. Finally, on our way home we stopped off to check out the stunning natural beauty of Torc Waterfall. Cascading from the misty heights of Torc Mountain, a favourite with mountain walkers, this beautiful 18m high waterfall is one of the top natural attractions in Kerry and anyone fit enough to reach the top (not me) is rewarded with panoramic views of the lakes and mountains of Killarney.
SPA…After a day exploring the great outdoors, get to the Brehon’s Thai-inspired spa STAT to ease those aching muscles. As Europe’s first Angsana Spa, all the spa’s therapists are from Thailand and they offer holistic spa treatments using incredibly scented natural ingredients. I’m a bit of a massage wuss so I opted for one of the newer additions to the Spa’s portfolio, the Fusion massage,a gentler treatment for overstretched muscles. This 90 minute treatment combines Thai and Swedish techniques to ease the body into relaxation mode and it felt like a rare moment of bliss. Thumbs up. Guests in need of more relaxation can hang out in the Vitality Suite, take a dip in the Infinity pool or get revived in the tropical shower and Crystal Steam Room. After trekking through the Killarney countryside, trust me, you’ll be trying them all.
EAT…After a relaxing treatment, head upstairs to the hotel’s Danú Restaurant and prepare to be wowed by the restaurant’s quality dishes and attentive service. Danú has won numerous awards including an AA Rosette and diners are treated to a mix of carefully chosen local ingredients mingled with international flavours. My fellow vegetarians are well looked after, with a separate menu of flavoursome veggie delights to choose from (a rarity in Irish food scene). Top marks for presentation too.
WHO’S IT FOR…Anyone who is tackling the Ring of Kerry, fancies a trek around the National Park, is heading to a concert in the INEC (right next door to the hotel), families, couples looking for a romantic break/a pampering getaway in Killarney town will all adore The Brehon. I can’t imagine anyone not liking it.
PHOTOS…Click on photos below to see more from my stay at The Brehon…