A re-visit to the five-star luxurious Sheen Falls Lodge revealed a genius tweak that adds to its special factor. Here’s everything you need to know before you book …
As the chaos of airline cancellations and delays persist, for some of us the idea of staying closer to home is more attractive. And some of our favourite hotels are unveiling fabulous upgrades, not just room refreshes but transformative projects that are experience-enhancing. A re-visit to the five-star luxurious Sheen Falls Lodge revealed a genius tweak that adds to its special factor. Now guests will have to make the difficult choice of whether to opt for the elegant dining room, The Falls, with its impressive wall of windows overlooking the River Sheen (it flows under a 18th-century bridge on its way to Kenmare Bay), or plump for the new restaurant, a mere trot across the courtyard.
Located in the former stables, The Stables Brasserie & Bar (pictured above) may not have the spectacular setting but its contemporary interior (tweed/slate/leather), super-accessible menu and wine list and SFL signature service, this standalone restaurant is already seducing non-residents. The style, the setting, all fab, but what really matters is the food. There are steaks – sirloin, rib eye and fillet – served with still-warm velvety béarnaise and thick-cut chips, a plump tomahawk pork chop, a choice of plant-based mains and the cleanest-of-clean salads (try the delicious Waldorf with mandolined apple and celery and candied walnuts). But it was the fishy element that got my vote: a superb prawn cocktail, mussels served in the perfect pot, accompanied by a smashing sourdough, catch-of-the-day cod dipped in beer batter and served with mushy peas. On a Saturday night, this new outpost was buzzing.
Hotels tell their story through a good book collection, but their libraries also spill deeper secrets. The library at Sheen Falls Lodge is far from a collection of old books left behind by other guests. It has cigar room ambience, a quiet space tucked away, walls lined with great dark wood bookcases filled with books – erudite, rare, witty, visual, historical, patriotic, foreign language, novels – and an antique table with the latest magazines, from Private Eye to World of Interiors. There’s a pretty view, deep armchairs and a vintage digestif served discreetly should you want it. The perfect place to read and escape from the real world. As with everything else in this special hotel, someone has thought things through. The library adds to the overall experience, the sense of comfort, service and welcome. When you’re done reading, the spa, refurbished in 2019, has four gorgeous treatment rooms and a small but delightful relaxation suite. Whatever the season, there are welcoming log fires. Even with glorious sunshine outside, it’s hard to resist the urge to curl up with a good book to soak up the atmosphere. But the circular driving route to the Beara Ring awaits and you’d be a fool not to explore beyond the hotel’s beautifully maintained grounds and stunning woodland walks. Rates start from €510 for bed and breakfast for two people sharing; www.sheenfallslodge.ie. JMcD
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