Hunter’s Hotel, so traditional, perhaps old fashioned, but charmingly and perfectly so. We had the loveliest of stays at Hunter’s Hotel recently. Touches like the real fireplace in our room, the quaint bar and the cosy feeling make me very happy. Hunter’s is the oldest coaching inn in Ireland, dating from the 1600s and is 200 years in the same family’s ownership. Set in gardens, bordering the river Vartry it really is quite beautifully situated. We arrived early evening on the Friday before Valentines Day, after a busy day in work happy to escape the city for a break away but glad to not have to drive too far from Dublin.
Driving through the archway into the stable yard, we were excited to see what Hunter’s had to offer. Simon has been to Hunter’s before, the special occasions of childhood, Communions, Confirmations all celebrated there but it had been years since he had been and this was my first time. Arriving into a large hallway, antiques and darker woods, the reception is tucked away in a little room off the hall.
Brought to our room up one flight of staits; Room no. 9, a large room, with shuttered windows to the garden and this fireplace, with a fire balzing, an armchair either side, so cosy and welcoming.
Fancying something small to eat as dinner was not until 8, we popped into the bar and ordered coffee and scones. This is one of the most quaint little bars, yes the couches and chairs need a re-stuffing and re-upholstery but again the fireplace and the beams and the general atmosphere makes you forget those little things.
Scones polished off and feeling quite comfortable we decided to enjoy a glass of wine before going back to the room.
Reading my kindle in front of the fire in our room, while he caught up on some television watching, we felt thoroughly relaxed going down for dinner.
We savoured a pre-dinner drink in the bar, gin & tonics, while we looked at the menu. I’m sure there are items on this menu that have been on forever – ‘Duo of Melon with a Fruit Coulis’ being the very 1st item there. We ordered our food and wine in the bar while enjoying the gins and once ready, we were escorted into the dining room to a table right at the window with the wonderful etchings from years gone by.
The wine list is excellent, mostly old world / French but good options outside of here, including a Napa Cellars Zinfandel, 2010 (priced at a very reasonable €28) which we happily ordered. Plenty of wines around this price point on the list too which is nice to see.
My starter of ‘Grilled Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad, Balsamic dressing’ was a simple dish, but done very well. His ‘Asparagus & Parma Ham with Hollandaise Sauce’ the same, a good start to our meal.
For main courses, my ‘Grilled Fillet of Monkfish, Sun Dried Tomato & Basil Pesto’ was really very good, meaty pieces of monkfish, not too much pesto meaning the flavour of the fish came through. His ‘Pan Seared Fillet of Pork with Port & Reducurrant Jelly’ equally enjoyed.
Though the food is traditional, it is not heavy. With our mains there were sides of sauteed baby potatoes (very delicious) along with baked beetroot and a selection of green vegetables.
For dessert, my apple & sultana crumble and his chocolate & cinnamon torte were a lovely sweet end to our meal.
We decided to retire back to the bar then to make the most of our evening away and a drink in front of the fire sounded like a good way to do this. A cheeseboard, glass of red wine and a nightcap of Amareto finished our evening off perfectly.
Returning to our room, the fire still on, the room warm and cosy, shutters closed on the window and in the bed a hot water bottle, it’s the little things.
Breakfast the next morning was much anticipated (the wine etc. the evening before does that!). We took a different table in the dining room, in a little alcove at the end of the room and helped ourselves to juice and ceral and fruit from the table in the centre of the room. We ordered coffee, tea and breakfasts, his with fried eggs and mine with boiled. We both really enjoyed the breakfast, not greasy at all. The fresh orange juice was definitely appreciated too.
Set up for the day we strolled around the grounds, through the kitchen gardens and the stable yard. A chilly February morning but fresh with blue sky.
And then it was time to go back home, sorry to leave but happy to have found this little inn, a place we intend to return to. Throughout the service was impeccable, from reception and in the bar and restaurant. Our package, bed, breakfast and dinner in a superior room was €260 and we added to that with the scones, coffees, wine and drinks.
What I would say is that thinking back on it, I’m not sure if visiting just for lunch or dinner would have the same effect, for us it was the whole experience that made it. So should we return it will be to stay and enjoy this old world charm and all it has to offer.
Hunter’s Hotel | Newrath Bridge, Rathnew, Co. Wicklow | +353 (0)404 40106