The best place to start this series of blog posts about our recent holidays is with the beautiful Castlemartyr Resort. We stayed for 5 nights and it was truly one of the nicest holidays we have had, much of that due to our stay at Castlemartyr.
The History (Briefly!)…The hotel itself is an old manor house. Before this there was a castle on the land, that from which the village takes its name. The castle was built in 1210 by The Knights Templar and in the centuries that followed, the land passed through various owners including Richard Boyle, the first Earl of Cork. Under Boyle, The Manor House was built in the 17th century. This Manor House has now been fully restored to it’s original grandeur and is the heart of the hotel. The castle ruins form part of the hotel’s grounds. More recently Castlemartyr was a boarding school for boys through much of the 20th century. There are a few rooms in the old part of the Hotel but most are located in the newer modern wing of the hotel. This extension juxtaposes perfectly to the old traditional part of Castlemartyr. It was cleverly done so as not to take away from the old but add a luxurious element to the building.
As you drive through the entrance gate and alongside the water to the bridge, its a little meander to the hotel with horses in the fields to the front. Enough of a drive from the gate to feel you are entering something grand and special…
We had quite a lot of luggage with us so drove to the hotel entrance to check in and get assistance in the form of a trolley for our bags! The lobby area of the hotel is beautiful – when you come through the double door there are smart chairs and sofas, a grand piano, high ceilings and through archways to the right you can see beyond to the bar area or go right again for the reception desk (and the resident dogs too!). Smooth and quick check in, the porter loaded our belongings to his trolley from our car and guided us to the room. Walking from reception to the newer wing where most of the rooms are, gives you a quick tour of the hotel as you pass by the bar, spa, restaurant to the lifts and up to the 3rd floor where our Suite was. It is a bit of a walk so be prepared for that!
Our suite was big, you enter into a lobby area, with to the left, a wardrobe for coats and the like alongside a cabinet with fridge, coffee / tea area with a Nespresso machine also and to the right a full length mirror. This opens to the sitting room of the suite which has a 2 seater sofa, armchair and coffee table, TV in the corner, and by the windows (full width floor to ceiling) a work desk and chair. Spacious, light and just missing something to soften the space like a rug (we did walk past another room similar to ours while it was being cleaned and looking in there was a rug so perhaps it was just missing from ours). The floors are wooden throughout expect for tiles in the bathroom.
The bedroom is a separate room and has the same floor to ceiling windows and door which open to the narrow terrace. Our room overlooked the golf course, beautiful views across the fields. There was a dressing room area off the bedroom to the right, and through to the bathroom, huge bath, separate walk in shower… it was perfect!
Over the years we have stayed in lots of different hotels and some hotel rooms are so badly designed and laid out – this wasn’t one of those. It was well thought out, with everything we needed to hand. Lots of this happened… feet-up, reading, glass of wine, relaxing…
The one thing that bugged us about the rooms or service was the turn down each evening, or lack thereof! Out of 5 nights, we had turn down properly on 2 evenings, a half turn down on one and none on the other 2 evenings. It’s one of the nice parts of staying in a 5 star hotel to have this service, and if its offered it should be consistent throughout.
Breakfast was definitely a standout, we ventured downstairs on the 1st morning but after that had room service, why not with the suite and space we had available – its nice to have breakfast brought to you while you lounge around in robes! We tried a few different breakfast items including the full Irish, french toast, omelettes… the full Irish was the winner – great ingredients clearly go into this breakfast and it’s simply yum! Lots of breakfast ‘sides’ too – toast, croissants, fruit, cereals – there was lots of choice on offer.
The pool is impressive, built in what is essentially a big glass box attached to the hotel, its a great size. There’s a jacuzzi at one end also (this is a little small though). The pool has restricted times for children too which is nice to know if you want a child free swim you can have that! We loved the pool and went most days for a splash around (rather than an actual swim), and a lounge in the jacuzzi when possible! I didn’t try the Spa besides having a manicure one evening. It looks fabulous though, I did get to spend some time in the relaxation room post manicure with my little treats of smoothie and granola and fruit kebab. We also made it to the gym (not as much as we planned though!) – really well equipped and more than adequate to do proper work outs to cancel out at least a teeny portion of all the lovely food & drinks!
On our 1st evening, we booked a table for dinner at the hotel’s casual restaurant, Frachini’s. We decided though first to have an little aperitif at the Knights’ Bar. I was really taken with the bar, amazing restored Rococo ceiling, comfortable chairs and a fireplace
… Gin Martinis too which always helps. The drinks list is good, nice cocktail list, beers on draught, impressive array of spirits, lots of local whiskeys. The wine list was a little short and not very creative, it would be good to have more thought put into the wines on offer here.
One small thing that irked, the bar is marble topped, and there were lots of marks and rings from glasses all over it, it needed a really good clean! We sat at the bar on stools that evening hence really noticing this (you can see it in the photo too).
We tried both restaurants, Franchini’s and the fine dining restaurant, The Bell Tower and I’ll post on them separately so look out for more blogs on Castlemartyr! We both love sitting outside, whether its lunch or a drink or a coffee… there’s a great portico just to the back of the lobby and bar area, covered and with heaters – we spent a fair bit of time here, having lunch one day, or a snack and wine another.
There was a huge thunderstorm one day, and it was great sitting there, watching the storm while staying protected and dry with a book and a glass of wine.
Two little disappointing things related to the bar area, we had coffees out here one morning – at €7 for 2 coffees, a biscuit or something to go with the coffee would be nice and probably expected. On another ocassion I ordered a Bloody Mary Cocktail – this was really poor for the price also of €12… the Martinis were much more impressive!
There’s lots of grounds to wander around in Castlemartyr resort. Its very picturesque and while we didn’t venture far on this visit I’d like to explore more of the land and walks next time. We were extremely lucky with the weather for the most part and had days like this… it’s hard to beat Ireland when it looks this pretty.
The walk to the village of Castlemartyr is really easy and quick too, you can use the pedestrian gate to the top of the village rather than having to go back out the vehicle way. There’s a great little pub in the village called Pat Shortts – we ate there one evening, and there’s also a blog on that to come!
Certainly not without some small faults but overall a hotel I know I will return to time and time again. It’s easily now our favorite hotel in Ireland when we consider all the facets, straightforward motorway drive from home in 2.5 hrs, spacious modern rooms but in a hotel with character, helpful and friendly staff, fab pool and spa area, a choice of dining options whether fine dining or casual… the afternoon tea looked pretty nice too – I might need to try that next time!
More blogs on our recent Ireland holidays to follow…Enjoy!
Castlemartyr Resort | Castlemartyr, Co. Cork, Ireland | Tel. +353 21 421 9000 | firstname.lastname@example.org