Does Killarney have the highest concentration of hotels in Ireland? With more than two dozen and around 15,000 inhabitants, according to my calculations, that can’t be far.
Despite names such as The Great Southern, Gleneagle and Killarney Park, Cahernane House bills itself as ‘Killarney’s best kept secret’. Built in 1877, this is the city’s only mansion-style hotel and has been modernized in recent years – renovated rooms, restaurants and a beautiful suite with Coach House stays thanks to €7.8 million paid by the owners, the Prem Group, were issued .
It’s already a member of Ireland’s Blue Book, and has also joined the handful of Irish hotels in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection… so it won’t remain a secret for long.
Arrival & location
That’s a cute approach. Cahernane is 2km outside of Killarney and is part of the hotels strip that borders the N71 but is reached via a tree lined avenue just long enough to deaden traffic outside but short enough for walks into town to allow (duration about 20 minutes). I spot a red squirrel walking in the 14 acre property; a bobbing blue tit on another.
The house is on the edge of Killarney National Park (although you can’t see the lakes) and will quickly transport you back in time. The reception area is lit by chandeliers supported by a hand-carved oak staircase and a stag’s head is mounted above the Queen Anne fireplace. Antiques include a Davenport desk inlaid with landmarks such as Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey. It was made on site in 1880 – ask the staff to show you the puzzle box with drawers and drawers.
Check-in is warm and courteous. Bags are collected from the car and if we can’t decide where to eat, we are given bar and restaurant menus in our room to read. 8/10
service & style
Before the remodel, Cahernane was “really run down,” general manager Emer Corridan tells me. Today you’ll notice a subdued, opulent vibe in refurbished bedrooms, two light and airy atrium spaces, redesigned drawing rooms and an eye-popping transformation of the former coach house by Julie Goggin (who also helped create Prem hotels like Tulfarris and The Hoban in Kilkenny) .
However, the website photography gives off a slightly higher quality feel than we find in the flesh. Some spaces, like the intimate library, are perfectly atmospheric; others would benefit from a different arrangement of furniture and better use of space, I think. A piano, for example, feels cramped in a corner of a drawing room, while an elevator to the bedroom corridor opens to a small nook cramped by a couch and large armchairs.
Staff are a pleasure; I get a glowing feeling of Killarney’s next generation coming through here. One young porter we meet has a gift of hospitality and converses with our 12 year old son just as easily as with older American visitors. Our waiter at the Cellar Bar is another natural who knows his menus inside out (from portion sizes to celiac options). That is also a compliment to the management. 7/10
Twelve of the 48 rooms are located in the main building and, in addition to rain showers and Nespresso machines, offer historical elements such as sliding windows and stucco work. Others, in the 1960s Garden Wing, evoke Killarney’s flora without being too obvious – in botanical wallpaper or wool throws, for example (those on the ground floor have small terraces). Ours was a suite, a deluxe stay with hardwood floors, a freestanding bathtub, and a curving piece of inlaid walnut that served as a TV stand. A fake rose, however, felt strange. Even the smallest sprigs of freshness say a lot more.
Coach House rooms are great. Set around a manicured garden, their parquet floors, lavish bathrooms, and pops of color — a richly studded red headboard caught my eye — are a hit, and the glass-enclosed staircase that flanks one side of the stone building is a beautiful feature. If you don’t mind being outside of the hotel, I would focus on these. 7.5/10
The Herbert Room is Cahernane’s gourmet offering, an elegant space with heavy drapes, chandeliers, views of the estate, and two AA rosettes to its name. Chef Cormac Vesey has recently replaced Eric Kavanagh so it will be interesting to see how the five course menu (€65pp) develops. Expect local treats like Kerry lamb and seafood to star.
After reviewing these menus in our room, we settled on the more casual Cellar Bar, a small, barrel-vaulted room in the old wine cellar. Highlights include a succulent Killarney Blonde Cod (€19.50), Dingle Crab and Salmon Cake (€16) and a comforting Lentil and Chickpea Dahl (€17.50). A dark chocolate opera cake with orange curd and raspberry sorbet gets the thumbs up for dessert, and it’s heartening to see so many Irish ingredients and craft drinks on the menus.
Breakfast is again served in the Herbert Room, where staff bring continental items (there’s no buffet), tea and coffee in silver jugs, fresh juices, and a basket of toast and pastries. Hot options include the full Irish pancakes with buttermilk and ‘Eggs Cahernane’ – with wild mushrooms, pancetta, sourdough, chorizo and chive butter for an additional €4.
The final result
Cahernane is on a cool journey of expansion and refinement. More rooms, expanded kitchens and a possible orangery are planned, says Corridan, which should further distinguish this four-star hotel among Killarney’s hotels. When you look at how similar properties like Mount Falcon in Ballina and Glenlo Abbey in Galway are creatively progressing, there’s no reason it should stop there either.
Stay on quieter nights like Sunday or Monday or use a Blue Book voucher and the hotel offers late check out. Book direct and get a €10 discount and a glass of Prosecco.
B&B from €109 per person. A two-night Halloween package including dinner and storytelling with Eddie Lenihan costs from €250 per person (October 31st to November 1st; it is suitable for adults and children). Pól was a guest of the hotel. 064 663-1895; cahernane.com
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/reviews/hotel-reviews/hotel-review-killarneys-best-kept-secret-gets-a-78m-makeover-42010117.html Cahernane Hotel Review – Killarney’s only mansion style hotel