Kilkea Castle is only a stone’s throw from Dublin (about an hour’s drive). GG and I arrived as Storm Dennis was in full swing. The 12th century castle stands proudly over 180 acres of woodland, golf course and gardens. I had spent an afternoon there last year at the opening of the Spa, but it was GG’s first glimpse of the hotel.
And, boy, was he impressed. Why? Because it looks like it stepped straight out of the pages of a history book. It has turrets and battlements and at any moment you feel you might get hit with an arrow from one of the long thin slits behind which archers hid. Behind the larger windows you can imagine ladies doing embroidery or gossiping!
You see this castle has been beautifully restored. Great care was taken to retain authenticity, but with 5-Star luxury. Its American owners, The Cashmans, spent €35 million and the project took several years to complete. It also boasts a large wedding/conference venue – The Baronial Hall – where we listened to the wonderful ‘Bagatelle’ perform that evening.
The large door (below) opens straight into a very understated reception on the left.
At this level, there is also a huge fireplace with a roaring fire and seats and a bar (The Keep) which also opens out to a large patio area.
Cocooned inside our luxurious bedroom, we gazed out at the storm, looking down on the walled garden from one window and at the 18th hole from the other.
All 11 rooms in the castle are named after previous owners…ours was the Earl of Kildare. The bedroom below is a photo I took of another room, as I accidentally deleted ours! But you can see a tour of ours on my Insta stories.
But there are beautiful carriage rooms (in the adjoining courtyard, below) and lodges overlooking the 18-hole golf course also. In total, there are 140 bedrooms with accommodation options to suit different budgets and needs.
Dinner that evening in ‘1180 Restaurant’ (when the castle was built) was absolutely delicious. What also impressed us was a carefully curated, excellent wine menu, with very reasonably priced wines. We are talking fine dining here, with ingredients sourced locally and amazing presentation.
Graham had Dexter Beef while I had Sea Bream; both were outstanding.
Desserts were irresistible.
Breakfast did not disappoint either and was exactly what you would expect of a 5-star establishment. The buffet was rather cleverly displayed in an old bookcase, also used to disguise the entrance into the kitchen.
Having helped ourselves to the extensive selection of fruits, yogurts, etc., Graham could not resist what he described as the perfect Eggs Benedict, while I opted for poached eggs and avocado.
I treated myself to a relaxing Elemis facial at the wonderful Spa and though I did not indulge in the Hydrotherapy Pool (below), I did take some time in The Relaxation Room. While there, I chatted to a new bride who had her wedding there on the previous Friday. She told me that it was totally magical from beginning to end and she didn’t want to leave.
You can enjoy horseback riding, falconry, archery, fishing and tennis. And there are a lot of places to visit in the area…The National Stud, for instance, or if you fancy some shopping you can visit the Kildare Village outlet about twenty minutes away.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON KILKEA CASTLE
This was a rare experience of total luxury. The accommodation, the food, the surroundings are all truly beautiful. And as always what sets the Irish hotel industry apart is the quality and friendliness of its staff. Every single person, from the wonderful reception staff to the restaurant manager, was helpful, charming and friendly. Below, I am enjoying a G&T before dinner.
As one of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland, Kilkea Castle has a very interesting history, which you can learn about while there. You can book directly through Kilkea Castle website or by telephoning. And there are often wonderful deals available, particularly at off-peak times. So, like me you can dip your toes into a little bit of luxury and live like a lord or lady. Go on you deserve it.
If you are on Instagram, you can see more photos and videos on my stories there at overthehilda.
I always like sharing my opinions of where we stay and new readers might like to read my review of Harvey’s Point (loved it) or Mount Wolseley Hotel (not so good) or even a review of a quirky guesthouse in Bangor (Northern Ireland).
Thank you for reading. I was invited as a guest of the hotel, but my review is (as always) honest and the views expressed are entirely my own and Graham’s too, of course!