Carrig Country House
, Caragh Lake, Killorglin, Co Kerry.
It's hard to determine which is the best bit of Carrig Country House: the beautifully-tended gardens, the majestic lake, the luxurious interiors or the fabulous food. We stayed three nights, and still couldn't decide!
Carrig Country House hotel is set in four acres glorious gardens on the edge of Caragh Lake. Framed by exotic trees and shrubs the view is of water, mountains, and nothing else! It is blissfully peaceful and achingly beautiful. Aquick dip in the lake before breakfast is a stimulating way to start the day, just as a stroll in the gardens before dinner is a perfect appetizer in the evening.
The house has a long and aristocratic history dating back to 1850, and this is reflected in the perfect decor and furnishings. There is a choice of drawing rooms on the ground floor, with views of the garden and lake, naturally. Or if you are fortunate enough to stay in the Presidential Suite, you have your own private drawing room with even more spectacular views.
All the guest bedrooms are en-suite and most have either kingsize beds or twin beds. They are decorated in period style and feature antique furnishings. The standard rooms would be "deluxe" in most hotels, with lovely garden views. The Lake View rooms are just 12 metres from the water, with the most brilliant views, even while still lying in bed. And at the top of the range is the Presidential Suite with a four-poster bed once owned by an Indian Maharajah, His'n'Hers dressings rooms, a jacuzzi bath and a spectacular 180 degree panorama from the drawing room.
The Lakeside restaurant is wonderfully situated overlooking the lake. The atmosphere is friendly, warm and one of total relaxation. Irish trout and salmon from the lake and succulent Kerry lamb feature on the menu alongside organic vegetables. Interesting selections of old and new world wines are offered to complement dinner whilst aperitifs and after-dinner drinks are served in the drawing room beside open peat fires.
Mountains, lake and miles and miles of coastline are there to fill the visitors' day. And they can be sampled on foot, by bicycle, kayak, canoe, sailing boat or just in a car. For something different, we went horse-riding on Rossbeigh beach. The Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way are both routes that pass by the gate, and a visit would not be complete without seeing the Kerry Bog Village, an insight into 18th century Irish country life.