When we think about what encapsulates a typically Irish holiday experience what do we think of? Good food from local producers? Pubs with stompingly good Irish music? Sunshine (sometimes)? What about activities on land or water? Maybe some boutique stores stocked with handmade items from local artists? And of course, stunning scenery would be high up on the list.
Kenmare is one Irish town that has all this and more. Added to its already delightful hotel offering is a new property, The Lansdowne Kenmare – well not new exactly, but bought last year, renovated and recently reopened by the ubiquitous Brennan Brothers, John and Francis. This three-star property is geared towards the casual traveller, those who want to spend their holiday exploring but like a comfortable base to return to. And this hotel could not be better situated for just that with the added bonus of lots of free parking, should you be driving.
The bedrooms are compact and exactly what you might expect for weary tourists. There isn’t an abundance of frills and fancy bits, nor are they needed when there is so much to do in the area. I loved the addition of a state of the art Bluetooth speaker, bringing this property which was built in the 18th century, right into the 21st century.
We were delighted with a little gift and welcome note in our room which also had bottles of water and tea/coffee making facilities. The bar of soap in the bathroom was by the Handmade Soap Company and it’s great to see such a great Irish quality brand when we all spend so much time washing our hands nowadays.
The shower gel was supplied in a dispenser on the bath wall, and I don’t know what it was, but it did smell good (bring your own shampoo). Our shower was in the bath so I think slip mats would be of great benefit here, particularly if you have mobility issues. Fans of the Francis Brennan collection of bedlinen and towels will be delighted to snuggle into his classically designed sheets and to wrap themselves in his fluffy white towels with an elegant gold trim. While I was expecting a bed that was made with extreme precision, our bed had a more casual, crinkly feel – just like home really, but with the luxury of the Francis Brennan collection.
For dinner, The Lansdowne Kenmare has a good and varied menu. On the night we ate there we chose prawns and the pork croquette to start. The perfectly cooked prawns were served with sea salt, Romanesco sauce and aoli sauce. The croquette held a substantial serving of delicious Dempsey’s free range pork and sat on a bed of celeriac and apple sauce.
I chose halibut for my main course which was served with creamy mashed potatoes and samphire. The halibut was light and succulent, and the potatoes and samphire were just perfect with it. Mr D chose the lamb which was cooked to order and served with creamy mashed potatoes, green beans and a red wine jus. Let’s just say the plate was cleared.
Our sweet treats were crème brulée with hazelnut sables and berries and chunky apple tart with fresh cream. We chose to have our tea and coffee on the lovely decking area which is a great spot to end a really good meal.
No matter where you go, there is no point in having luxurious linens, great views or world class food if the customer service is not there. But do not fear, from the moment you arrive in the Lansdowne Arms you will be looked after.
Guests of The Lansdowne Kenmare can avail of breakfast, lunch and dinner in the bar/restaurant area which also has a fabulous outdoor space where we opted to have breakfast each day. I had porridge with honey and berries on both mornings and it was thick, creamy and incredibly morish and I am delighted to report that the orange juice was freshly squeezed and delicious. If a cupcake and coffee take your fancy, this property also has a lovely little café which will satisfy the most discerning of cake lovers amongst us.
Kasia, the manager is a breath of fresh air and she surely leads by example because the staff could not have been nicer or more helpful. They epitomise the meaning of a warm Irish welcome. Of course, the Brennans are no stranger to hospitality with properties like Dromquina Manor and The Park Kenmare under their belts, and this new property is different again, but the great thing it has in common with their impressive portfolio is that all important Irish welcome. True Irish hospitality is alive and well in Kenmare and long may it last.
Many thanks to Francis, John and Margaret for looking after us so well.
WRITTEN BY FIONA DILLON