Horse drawn carriages and an historic setting – a visit to Muckross Park is an escape to your very own fairy tale. The question is, who will you take with you?
Originally called The Herbert Arms, Muckross Park has been perfecting the art of hospitality since 1795. These days it’s a little different to the original six bedroom pub that it once was, in fact it has gone by three or four different names in that time, for now however it balances contemporary facilities and renovation with historic charm and the kind of customer service that makes you feel instantly looked after from the moment you walk in the door.
With 68 rooms, the five star accommodation oozes grandeur. Of course it has all the mod cons you would expect including DVD players (because frankly, if you’re going to have an evening in, this is definitely the place to do it), but the theme of the décor heralds its history and in particular, Victorian design. It’s decadent and each room is individual, and overall, unerringly romantic as far as the hotel goes, but there are self-catering apartments as well for longer stays (you won’t want to leave, I thought I should tell you that now), or group and family visits.
The Cloisters Spa is named in reference to the nearby 15th century Franciscan Abbey, which is a good indicator of the venue’s dedication to its surroundings. They also have their own product line that is available to buy and is used in treatments, with a signature lemongrass scent, and other ingredients that reference the location. The thermal area is practically a treatment in its own right with the beautifully set out tropical rain shower, sauna, herbal steam room, and salt grotto. There is a Neoclassical motif in the design of the hydrotherapy pools and river relaxation room, and all of this is offset by the heartbreakingly beautiful surroundings of the Killarney National Park, spa gardens, and views across the Bluepool River.
Once again taking advantage of the surrounding views, there are three restaurants. The Yew Tree is all about fine dining and has an AA Rosette for its efforts – again, if you are here on a romantic break or special occasion, you are well advised to include it in your repertoire. This is accompanied by two less formal experiences – Molly Darcy’s Traditional Irish Pub, which is all open hearths and rustic grub, and Monks Bar, which is the place to settle in with a dram of whiskey in the evening.
The grounds of the hotel and surrounding National Park really are something to behold, so make sure you leave time to go for a stroll and breathe it all in – if relaxation is what you are after then this will only multiply that sense and the hotel staff are well versed in advising places to walk to or activities to book in the area such as kayaking on the lakes or hiking up Ireland’s largest mountain, Carrantouhill. Nonetheless, Killarney city centre is only a few minutes away by car or taxi.
It probably goes without saying by this point, but Muckross Park has romance pouring out of every nook and cranny, so it’s the perfect destination for couples looking for some time together. That said, thanks to the apartments, spa treatments, and surrounding area that’s waiting to be explored, it’s also a lovely place to visit with friends – providing time for a proper catch up and complete escape in what feels like something close to a fairytale … at least for a few days.
Leave some time to head into Killarney and visit the local pubs – most of them will have traditional music as par for the course and that’s definitely not something to miss!
Spend as much time in the spa as you can, there’s certainly enough to experience and it would be a shame to feel rushed through it!
Take a horse drawn carriage ride through the National Park – these can be arranged by the hotel and are the cherry on top of the storybook setting!
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