What trip to Ireland would be complete without a stay at an elegant castle or estate home? As I pulled up to the Mount Juliet Estate hotel near Kilkenny and stepped out of the car onto the red carpet rolled out in welcome, I knew I was stepping into five-star luxury.
As I sipped my glass of Prosecco, I learned the long and interesting history of this beautiful five star hotel and resort. Now owned by an Irish investment firm, the manor house was built in the mid 1700s by the Butler family. In the early 1900s, the estate was was bought by a new owner, who became one of the wealthiest men in Europe and it was passed down their that family until recession hit in 1987.
Mount Juliet Estate opened as a hotel and golf course in 1990. Since then, Mount Juliet hotel has earned numerous distinctions, from the five star rating earned in 2018, to being named one of the top 30 hotels in Ireland, and in the top five golf resorts in Ireland. Even The Lady Helen restaurant in the Manor House has earned a Michelin star and 3AA Rosette rating.
Mount Juliet Estate Review
I stayed at Mount Juliet Estate in early May, as a guest of the hotel and Tourism Ireland (all opinions are my own.) The timing was perfect as the gardens were just coming into bloom and the wisteria that drapes over the front of the Manor house and frames the door so beautifully was just coming into season.
Accommodations at Mount Juliet Estate
There are two properties on the Mount Juliet Estate, the 18th century Manor House with 32 bedrooms, and the 93-room Hunter’s Yard Hotel, which offers smart luxury in an estate setting. If you are traveling with kids, both settings offer rooms that can accommodate families, from larger rooms in the Manor House with pull-out couches, to interconnecting rooms with two double beds at Hunter’s Yard. I would think that families with younger kids would be more comfortable at Hunter’s Yard, as it is a less formal setting.
I stayed at the Manor House, in the “Black Earl” room with a peaceful river view. Draped in luxury and cuddled in comfort, the room was exactly what I would have hoped for after a few busy days exploring Dublin, County Wicklow, and Waterford.
Its sitting area by the windows, overlooking the river and pastures beyond, was the perfect spot for an afternoon cup of tea. The plush bed welcomed my tired body for a few much-needed hours of restful sleep in a surprisingly quiet house. And the bathroom offered the luxury products and modern conveniences I wasn’t sure I would find in a historic property.
I know we were staying as VIP guests of the hotel since we were on a press trip, but I was still so impressed with the service at the resort. There is such a friendly staff, eager to help or give you a lift to another part of the property, and not at all stuffy as you might fear at a traditional five star country estate.
The Manor House actually felt quite cosy, with plenty of places to curl up and enjoy a book, a drink, or a cup of tea. Public spaces include the library, parlor, outdoor seating, and little nooks like the sitting area at the top of the stairs.
Activities at Mount Juliet Estate
In addition to an award-winning, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, there is plenty to do at the Mount Juliet Estate. Other activities including horseback riding, fishing, biking, archery, and falconry.
The Mount Juliet borders a large stud farm and horses have played a big role in the estate’s history. The Equestrian Centre is state of the art, with two all-weather arenas and show jumps and trails spread across the 500 acre estate. Lessons, clinics, and trail rides are available for a fee.
Archery is available for guests ages six and up and staff is there to provide tips and ensure safety. The estate also works with Hawkeye Falconry to provide private falconry experiences (fee applies). This one hour program (for ages seven and up) includes a walk through the estate, an introduction to falconry, and a chance to handle these regal creatures under the guidance of an experienced falconer.
Catch and release salmon and trout fishing is available on the 2.5 mile stretch of the River Nore that runs through the estate. Mount Juliet provides the fishing equipment if needed (and the necessary fishing license) so that guests can enjoy the twelve named pools on the river.
Mount Juliet also offers a health club and treatment rooms, with a full five-star spa in the works for the near future. For younger guests ages 5-12, the Mount Juliet Junior Club offers daily activities like archery, golf lessons, falconry, swimming, horse back riding, and outdoor games and evening activities including karaoke and movies.
Dining at Mount Juliet
There are two dining options on the Mount Juliet Estate. The Lady Helen Restaurant in the Manor House has received one Michelin Star and 3 AA Rosettes. This elegant dining room offers bucolic river views and international cuisine.
The dishes feature local ingredients, including fro the estate’s kitchen and herb garden. Seven and nine-course tasting menus with wine pairing are also available. Breakfast is also served in The Lady Helen Restaurant and includes either a buffet or an a la carte menu with signature items like the Boxty Benedict.
Afternoon tea, and children’s afternoon tea, are also available in the Major’s Bar or Tetrach Lounge. Tea includes finger sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries, and signature beverages, but reservations are required.
The Hunter’s Yard also offers a full service restaurant. The Hound is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner serving an array of soups, salads, and main course options in an informal setting that is child-friendly. The restaurant offers beautiful golf course views and has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes and a Michelin Plate for its modern Irish cuisine.
I loved my stay a Mount Juliet and wish that I could have stayed longer. But that is ok, because my plan is to return with the family and to enjoy a few more days is this classic, luxurious setting.
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- My favorite experiences in Ireland