Adare Manor recently was voted top hotel in the world by Virtuoso. A trip to this beautiful destination on a sunny autumn day shows the wisdom of that decision. The resort is just outside the lovely village of Adare in Co. Limerick, and from the moment you turn off at the impressive entrance it’s obvious this is just a little bit special. This may well read as an exercise in superlatives, but Adare manor is simply fabulous.
The drive winds around by the river Maigue and a semi restored castle stands on the other bank. The manor itself comes into view and we follow the road under an archway that runs under the new wing, up to the original building, now all beautifully restored and resplendent in the afternoon sun.
The property dates back to 1830 and was home to the Earl of Dunraven and his family over several generations. The exceptional Neo-Gothic manor has been laid out as a calendar house boasting 365 stained windows and 52 chimneys, there are also references to the 7 days of the week and the 12 months of the year.
Liveried staff take our car and luggage and we’re whisked in to check in and in no time are opening the door to a beautiful room with breathtaking views over the formal gardens and golf course.
A tiered tray of afternoon delights sits on our coffee table and the Nespresso machine is fired up. Afterwards we take a bike ride around the estate, thoroughly enjoying the fairy garden and finishing down in the village with a bit of shopping before returning to the cocoon of luxury and a highly anticipated dinner in the signature Oak room restaurant.
The grand hall is buzzing when we come down; a large group are all dressed in medieval clothes and are off for dinner in Adare village. This seems to be a personal endeavour, and no doubt required some planning, but they all head off, excited as a gang of Harry Potter fans at Hogwarts and we have a drink in the main lounge before being shown into dinner by Christie Hayes, the charming restaurant manager.
There is a choice of options from a menu divided into six sections each with three options. You can decide to have four, five, or six courses, and pick dishes from each section, effectively creating your own tasting menu. I have seen this once before; the excellent Jonathan Keane does it in The Lodge at Ashford and I liked it there as well!
We decide on the chefs surprise menu, where he picks the dishes and send s them out in order, while sommelier Farrah picks a flight of matching wines.
Three little amuse bouche arrive to tickle the taste buds, and tiny ice cream cones cones with smoked salmon mousse are excellent, a parmesan snap is cheesy while a natural oyster completes the trio.
Our first course is the Ballyneety farm fermented beetroot tartare. This is an exercise in sweet and sour. The pickled beetroot is accompanied by a sweet crispy wafer and the two flavours are delicious. I must admit, I’m not a fan of beetroot, but this was really very good indeed.
Next up are hand dived scallops served in the shell with parsnip and vanilla and a chicken veloute. The scallops are delicate and sweet, and the chicken adds flavour and texture, but it’s the vanilla that really sets this dish off. Wonderful.
A nice surprise comes next when we are taken through to the kitchen for a course at the pass with sous chef Olly, who has come to Adare via Heston Blumenthal and the Fat Duck. Fat juicy langoustines are served with cauliflower and caper dressing, while around us the kitchen continues to hum along, library silent except for the sound of Olly running the pass and chefs passing their dishes on to their companions.
We chat about the menu, the cooking and the fat Duck while enjoying our course and then return to the table where the wine turns red for the first time, and a dish of venison with swedes, jasmine an d sauternes is seriously intense and quite delicious.
A pre dessert with passion fruit and coconut with a cheeky little basil sorbet stes us up for a wicked plate of peanut, banana and mild chocolate, both of these courses accompanied by delicious dessert wine chosen by Farrah.
We’re not finished yet and a cheese board completes this exquisite meal that was complemented throughout by impeccable service.
Like I said it’s a review of superlatives. The following morning the view from our room changes and a mist rolls up the fairway while an army of grounds people cut and sweep the gardens and fairways, making sure not even an errant leaf can spoil the perfection and we marvel at the dedication.
Breakfast in the long room is delicious, and cured trout proceeded poached eggs, simple but effective with delicious breads from the 24 hour in-house bakery.
It takes a lot of hard work to make this level of excellence appear effortless and seamless and the team have achieved this completely. It’s a joy to stay here; the beauty and attention to detail are staggering, while the food and service are sublime. Escape the mundane for the magical in what is undoubtedly one of the best hotels in the world.