It’s ridiculous to say that Adare Manor feels like home, but no one is more surprised than me.
It’s not that I was born in the mansion, far from it. Rather, the iconic five-star hotel manages to feel like both a grand estate and an intimate home thanks to an ambitious renovation and savvy design quirk.
Make no mistake, the trappings of luxury are everywhere: from the twinkling chandeliers in the bedrooms to the crisp white tablecloths of the star-studded restaurant The Oak Room. Ornate and expressive floral arrangements top each table, and the hotel itself smells fragrant. It is everything a 5 star hotel should hope to be.
But as you pass by its plush sofas, crackling fires and families eating together, it’s hard not to feel a little… at home.
This, I am told, is due to a design vision. Instead of a hotel interior designer, an interior design expert was hired to revamp the hotel. For one of the most coveted hotels in the country, it feels quite cozy.
After an 18-month renovation and the various stops and starts of the pandemic, it feels like Adare Manor is finally taking off, and on my recent visit the hotel was buzzing. I was invited to Le Manoir to experience both a meal in The Oak Room and the hotel’s new Padel Club, the first of its kind in Ireland. Recruiting my buddy, we set off.
Driving over the hilly estate – measuring 840 acres, about the same size as New York’s Central Park – we were greeted by charming and warm staff. From the outset, no need was overlooked. The car was parked for us, our bags taken to the room. We barely had to think for ourselves, which was disconcerting in the first place and actually quite pleasant in the second place.
First, we had lunch at The Carriage House, the elegant restaurant located a short walk from the main building. With an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients, it was an ideal introduction to fine dining at Adare Manor.
We were told to save plenty of room for dinner later, so we opted for light bites: a burrata and parma ham salad and a bowl of deconstructed salmon poké.
Then we explored the hilly grounds and the neo-Gothic building. Nods to the Dunraven family, who built the original mansion in the 1830s, were everywhere, from the crow carvings adorning the dark wooden staircase to the pet graveyard under a tree, which n only added to the feeling of staying in your wealthy relative’s lavishly comfortable abode. .
Our bedroom – overlooking the River Maige – was equally opulent, with Georgian-inspired furniture, a plush four-pillow double bed, a crystal chandelier and intricate tapestries on the walls.
The majestic bed was already calling me, but we were treated to a Michelin star meal.
The Oak Room, run by chef Mike Tweedie, was the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Limerick and has rightfully retained its star for one more year.
Favoring local products and a small number of ingredients in each plate, he is renowned for his sober and varied creations.
We opted for the Signature menu, although diners can also choose from the seasonal market menu.
Tempura-battered oyster canapes, trout tarts, and cheese puffs were the first to arrive, and that first piece of crispy oyster might have been my favorite of the night.
Then comes the duck liver terrine with chamomile and Sauternes jelly, cut into small cubes and nestled against the terrine. It was an unexpected flavor bomb of a dish, more rich and interesting, and with an irresistible flaky brioche served on the side that you are encouraged to tear up.
It was at this point that my boyfriend whispered over the table, “I’d like to see what the kitchen looks like right now.”
I cooed in agreement, took a sip from my drink and looked up to see one of the servers walking towards our table. The chef, she told us, had “prepared a surprise” for us in the kitchen, and thus came the longest and most dizzying five-minute wait of my life.
To see? Every wish taken into account.
Chef Tweedie greeted us with a fist bump in the middle of his very quiet kitchen, where he had prepared two plates of Doonbeg crab with potato, lemon and caviar. It was the culmination of an already unforgettable meal, and a testament to the skill and composure of the team as they continued to work as usual.
Back at our table, roast turbot in a champagne sauce and beef cooked in a sous vide of melted beef fat were the next two courses, followed by the arrival of the cheese cart – an old world wooden cart handcrafted in Kerry for the restaurant. We sampled as many as we could, knowing that more courses were waiting for us.
A rhubarb, white chocolate and yogurt palate cleanser followed, before a sumptuous dessert of crispy lemon tart, lemon sorbet served over fresh ice cream and “Jaffa cake”, a confection of praline and chocolate mousse with a tangy orange centre, topped with gold leaf.
After an espresso and a few petit fours, we figured, if not literally, floated out of the oak-lined dining room and headed to The Tack Room bar, located in the atmospheric stone basement for some after-dinner cocktails. dinner, near the smoldering fire.
The following morning breakfast was served in the breathtakingly beautiful gallery, before a trip to the state-of-the-art Padel Club. Set in a sleek, minimalist building constructed from natural materials (Dermot Bannon, eat your heart out), it blends into the thick forest.
Among an interactive virtual golf course, swimming pool and Goop-worthy yoga studio is the Padel Court, where guests can try their hand at padel tennis.
The rules are the same as tennis with a few differences: the court is a third the size of a tennis court, the padels are made of lightweight microfiber and the court is lined with reinforced glass to be used as squash.
The game is a popular second day of a wedding activity, and it’s obvious why: nothing says “I’m not hungover, you’re hungover” like kicking a ball l against each other. Followed by a dip in the pool, we felt like two big kids returning from a day at adult play school.
Our magical journey ended with a final gourmet feast at the Drawing Room, where we opted for a Caesar salad and a ham and cheese sandwich on tomato bread, followed by yet another trolley: this time a pastry trolley. We ended our trip with a pastry that seemed to sum up the Manoir as a whole: an apple and custard tartlet, intimate comforts on a spectacular scale.
A trip to Adare Manor will never be a laid back stay. For many, it’s top of their bucket list, a destination so opulent and lavish it’s well worth the wait. I’m happy to report that even if you wait a bit to get there, you’ll be greeted like an old friend coming home.
We stayed at Adare Manor, Co. Limerick, for one night, as review guests. We stayed in a State Room, breakfast, an evening meal in The Oak Room and lunch in The Drawing Room covered.