Ballyfin Demense, Ireland
Forgive me, I have sinned, and in connection to the land of my heritage. It has been too-many-to-count months since my last blog post and I have sadly let languish the review of my fairytale stay at the gorgeous property, Ballfyin, located in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the midlands of Ireland. The 614-acre, Regency property is the emblem of one family’s steadfast passion to bring elegance through careful restoration back to the Irish countryside. The manor not only does just that, but it goes further and wows its guests with an enviable art and antique collection as well as first-class service, befitting of the former gentry to which the house was once accustomed.
Today, it is Ireland’s preeminent property, offering a truly exceptional stay in the isle of green. Even if you can visit for one night, it’s an overnight you’re likely never to forget. With twenty individually-designed rooms, ranging from suites to a cozy single, the house maintains its original feel as a grand manor, accommodating all types of guests and personality types. Given this particularity, it’s wise to check the room descriptions and images prior to visiting to ensure you are ensconced in a decor style of your liking, though fortunately no room could ever be deemed uncomfortable nor unattractive.
Sure, go ahead, indulge the Downton Abbey fantasies… I did. After all, you’re in the proper countryside where the amenities range from shooting and archery to horse and carriage rides or High Tea taken in a garden folly. Of course, the fantasy is best realized through the property’s very own costume room featuring a bevy of original 17th and 18th century costumes (plus accessories!) available for guests to borrow. I highly suggest dressing in costume for dinner one evening (and dressing smartly for dinner every evening, given the fare is quite high-end and the service, fittingly formal.) Plus, the wonderful woman in the costume room has the patience of a kindergarten teacher. She smiled the entire time as she witnessed our group of women deliberate for an hour over our selections. Then, she politely indulged my plea to sneak back and change my selection. I’m not sure if dining in the costumes was as much fun as the photo session prior (those ladies had tiny waistlines that clearly didn’t accommodate cheese trolleys) but somehow we managed, giggling throughout the meal having been transported if not back in time, back in our own years — a rare treat in and of itself.
TIP: The pace is deliciously slow at Ballyfin, and with many a fireplace, overstuffed couch and the typical wet Irish weather on hand, a good book is your best travel accessory.