Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains, Ballyfin house in County Laois is noted as one of the best hotels in the world and has long been admired as the most lavish Regency mansion in Ireland.
Following eight years of restoration, the house re-opened in May 2011 as a five star country house hotel. With only twenty rooms for the 614 acre estate, this 5 star luxury hotel takes exclusive to another level. Beauty expert Anita Murray has got a thing for Ballyfin and explains to Exquisite.ie the allure of the hotel.
Anita Murray: Ballyfin is a place of history, romance, tranquility and great natural beauty. I was fortunate enough to visit not long after it opened its doors after almost 10 years of restoration work. It quite possibly ruined every future hotel experience for me, as nothing has since compared. This year the Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards 2016 voted Ballyfin Demesne the best in the world. It had been a while since I had enjoyed a little getaway, and some time out was well-overdue.
The grounds are amazing and it is really lovely to be able to wander around the vegetable garden and see things growing that are on the menu. That leads me to one of my favorite aspects of Ballyfin. The dining experience is stunning and dinner is served ceremoniously. We enjoyed a champagne reception before dinner and it was a lovely touch to mingle and relax with other guests before dinner. Head chef Sam Moody prepared a scallop starter and the Comeragh mountain lamb with mushroom puree and Ballyfin wild garlic for the main course. It was cooked to perfection and as consistent as everything else we had enjoyed throughout our stay.
I’ve been fortunate through my job to have enjoyed beautiful properties from The Residence in Johannesburg to Al Qasr in Dubai but nothing can prepare you for Ballyfin. What also sets Ballyfin apart is the value. Compared to similar properties that charge for laundry, Wi-Fi, incidentals, soft-drinks, lunch, dinner, service and activities. Just about everything is included here; one exception is the wine list at dinner. Obscenely expensive hotels with no real value really annoy me but I would choose Ballyfin time and time again. Quoting Oscar Wilde ‘’I have the simplest tastes, I am always satisfied with the best’’