I love my kids. I am pretty sure my wife does too. However, there comes a time, every so often, when you just need to escape from them and have some time away, leaving somebody else to look after the bedtimes. These opportunities do not arise that often, so when you see and opening to head away, you have to choose wisely. A couple of months ago I felt a need percolating for an escape from school runs, alarm clocks and deadlines, so I booked the Parknasilla Resort and Spa, in Sneem, County Kerry.
When looking for a day or two away there are a few things I am looking for. I like a bit of luxury. Not fussy luxury, but pleasing surroundings that include things to do (nothing too strenuous mind), good food and an appealing bar. It really is a simple enough checklist, but the amount of hotels that fail to do the simple things well can be frustrating when your opportunities to get away are not that frequent. Hopes were high, but getting carried away with high hospitality hopes can be unwise sometimes.
The drive encompasses part of the Ring of Kerry, which in itself is a bit magical. The only problem was I was driving and narrow roads don’t give much leeway to the driver for taking in the scenery. My wife enjoyed picture postcard Ireland from the passenger seat, while I closely watched the tractor in front. The good news for me was that as we approached the turn off for the hotel, the scenery just got better and better.
A short drive up to the hotel allowed the excitement to build. We were heading to a luxury hotel in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, when our kids are safely in school for the day and most of our peers are working. No denying it, it is a nice feeling!
The next twenty four hours delivered exactly what we came for, but not entirely in ways we had expected.
After a friendly, efficient check in and a quick bag drop up to the room and we were ready to roam some of that stunning countryside that was teasing me on the drive.
We got the walking boots on, the backpack out and the DSLR Canon camera locked and loaded. I had no idea how much walking we would do, but we were set and the sun was shining. The walk we did was simply wonderful. We were both in awe of the views across the sea loch known as the Kenmare river. Wandering around the Parknasilla estate was so refreshing and life-affirming. The outrageous vistas were also helped by the careful placing of benches that were located in some glorious spots where sunlight gently shone down on us. At this point words fail me a bit, so thankfully the photographs I took may do it some justice and you can get an idea of the beautiful surroundings.
The hotel has a rich history, but wears it lightly. It is grand, but not overly so. Luxurious, but in no way stuffy.
The hotel offers a few different room types. We had a standard room which felt freshly decorated and prompted my wife to suggest introducing wallpaper in our own house. Lovely views over the forest from a room which was simple and comfortable. In some hotels the room is key to a stay, but not here, in the Parknasilla, where the hotel and its grounds offer so much. You would be crazy to stay cooped up in a room in a place of such natural beauty.
We spent some of the afternoon lounging and winding down in the pool and spa area in the hotel basement. No ordinary pool and spa area this though (no photography allowed in this area of the hotel, so no pics from inside there, but very nice indeed). We relaxed in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the bay and spent a bit of time in the salt therapy steam room and herbal sauna. This was proving absolutely exhausting work, so we then retired to the heated loungers for a read and then a mini snooze. The pool looked amazing, but I was simply too comfortable to sample it. This forty something man was obviously a little jaded after his earlier walk!
Dinner & drinks
So, onto dinner. I do love a good old pre-dinner drink, so when we found the bar at the very end of the ground floor we had a Guinness and a Beara pink gin and tonic lined up in no time.
Dinner was served in the Pygmalion room which is a beautiful venue for it and for breakfast the following morning. We dined on local scallops, barley risotto, rib-eye beef and monkfish which were all thoroughly enjoyable. We found another Guinness and Amaretto were calling us for a nightcap before we called it a night.
Breakfast was very good, relaxing and the food choice was varied and tasty. Plenty tea, coffee and newspapers to while away a bit of time to aid digestion of all those calories.
These calories were soon put to work as decided to walk the estate in the opposite direction on the “seal walk.” The sun was still shining and we just could not get enough of the scenery, so we endeavoured to drink it in before we departed later in the day. We took the air, saw a seal, relaxed, talked a bit about grown-up stuff (as responsible parents we have to do a bit of this every so often) and then headed back to the kids.
George Bernard Shaw described Parknasilla as “part of a dream world” and I can only agree with the thoughts of the great writer. We enjoyed every minute of our twenty four hours in Parknasilla Resort and Spa.
There is also a self-catering option on the estate, which I photographed in case they are of interest to you. I might try those next time as I think my kids really have to see this part of the world. I hope they might find it as magical as we did.
Thanks for reading. Until next time,
This was not a press trip or the like. My wife and I paid in full for this trip and were glad to do so.