adare manor

Adare Manor, Ireland: The five-star jewel in the Emerald Isle’s crown

22 Nov 2023 | |By Annie Lewis

The land of a thousand welcomes lives up to its name at Adare Manor, where impeccable service meets whimsical architecture and thoughtful gastronomy

Adare Manor had been on my bucket list for a while. Years, to be exact. Its name has often spilled into casual conversations with both friends and colleagues, while pictures of it would flood my social media feed – yet despite its obvious charms (it’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a fairytale castle), I was still curious. How did this seemingly quaint Irish country manor become the number one resort in the world? And, what was it about this historic hotel that convinced discerning travellers to part with significant amounts of cash year after year? 

One of two Forbes five-star rated hotels in Ireland, Adare Manor has combined Old World glamour, modern features and Irish charm to create, as you’d expect, a stand-out stay. Key to its success is its storied history. Dating back to 1832, the design and build of the stately home was overseen by one of the most notable dynasties in Ireland: the Dunravens. Strapped with gout, the second Earl of Dunraven was encouraged by his wife, Lady Caroline Wyndham, to be more productive with his time and turn his attention to the crumbling Georgian manor house on their 842-acre estate (the same size as London’s Hampstead Heath) in Adare, County Limerick. Caving to marital pressure, the Earl called upon the best architects, craftsmen and designers of the time to bring his vision to life – and so, Adare Manor was born. 

The hotel is a rare example of a Calendar House: adorned with 365 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, seven stone pillars and four towers to mark the annual tally of days, weeks and seasons. This – alongside an unusual turreted tower situated in the corner, instead of in the middle, of the property and magnificent gargoyles – are unique features requested by the eccentric Earl, who died in 1850 and left the project to his family. 

The manor was completed in 1860, some 28 years after renovations started – a span during which almost every local labourer found themselves in the employ of the project. The harmonious relationship between the manor and the village of Adare (many of the hotel’s 600-strong staff still live nearby) dates back to the Irish Famine of the mid-19th century, when the Dunravens sourced labourers from the village to not only help local families, but trust the manor would be built to the highest standards of the day. The result? A magnificent gothic transformation of the family seat which, unbeknownst to them, would also shape the future of Irish hospitality. 

Renovations, however, didn’t stop there. When the home was sold by the last Lady Dunraven in the 1980s, the plan was to transform the manor into a spectacular hotel. The first iteration of Adare Manor as a luxury resort opened in 1988 and in 2017 the hotel underwent the largest restoration project of its kind in Ireland, courtesy of current owner John Patrick McManus. The Irish businessman and racecourse owner, known to love a gamble on the stocks and horses, along with his children, oversaw the addition of a 42-bedroom wing made in limestone as a tribute to the original (so meticulous with the design that it’s hard to tell the difference) bringing the total room count to 104. Oh and if life in the ‘big house’ isn’t for you, there are also 26 self-catering luxury villas, 14 townhouses and two cottages to choose from too…

When I arrive at Adare Manor on a brisk November morning, I can’t quite believe the sheer size of the estate. As we’re driven through the carriage gates and greeted by two cheery butlers, the approach to the manor is whimsical, with paved lanes surrounded by medieval ruins (the remains of noble homes destroyed by Oliver Cromwell), walled gardens and winding woodland paths (which I'd highly recommend you explore via the hotel's very own horse and carriage). As the fairytale castle comes into view, it’s hard not to be awestruck by its imposing, grand, gothic romance – brilliant foundations for a five-star hotel. 

As soon as I’m out of the car I’m led by charming porters – it is the land of a thousand welcomes after all – into the Great Hall. This reception-come-lounge is the beating heart of the hotel and an immediate example of the manor’s exquisite feat of craft and engineering. Featuring multiple arches, elaborate bay windows and draped chandeliers from sky-high ceilings, this is a far cry from your average reception desk; it is homely, welcoming and cosy, softly lit by open fireplaces. The space bleeds into the Drawing Room (perfect for a cocktail or two), the Michelin-starred Oak Room (more on that later) and sweeping staircases which lead guests with deep enough pockets to the 12 suites found in the original building. 

I am lucky enough to bag the Wyndham-Quin suite. Fetching roughly €4,000 per night, it boasts views over the finely manicured gardens which, even in winter, look incredibly picturesque. It’s one of 12 Dunraven Staterooms that once were the private apartments of the Earls of Dunraven and their families, all of which are grand in size, with high ceilings, carved wood panelling, stucco detailing and king-sized beds spread across a lounge, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and spacious bathroom fitted with Acqua di Parma amenities. Inscribed in gold in the architrave of one wall is the Latin motto ‘Quae Sursum Volo Videre’, which translates to ‘I wish to see what is beyond’. This saying, with all its aspiration, ambition, and anticipation, is at the heart of the Adare Manor experience. 

Another architectural marvel of note is the Gallery, measuring 132 feet long and 26.5 feet wide, it’s the second-longest banqueting hall in Ireland (after Trinity College in Dublin). Lined on either side with 17th-century Flemish choir stalls, it took its inspiration from the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. It’s now the setting for a decadent breakfast spread, with the signature menu offering golden waffles and all the eggs you could desire along with classic Irish oatmeal porridge, smoked kippers and native charcuterie sourced from family suppliers in the adjacent counties of Wexford, Mayo, Cork and Tipperary. 

Come evening make a reservation at The Oak Room. The first restaurant in County Limerick to receive a Michelin-star, the memorable dining experiences offered here are overseen by acclaimed chef Mike Tweedie. The dining room, which takes its name from the intricate oak carvings that line its walls, is an intimate setting overlooking the River Maigue. The signature tasting menu will set you back €160, but you do get plenty of bang for your buck. Snacks start with fermented carrot and beef tartare with caviar, topped with wasabi from West Cork before 11 (yes, 11) signature courses. Highlights include the Ballyneety beetroot salad, which arrives on your table oozing dry ice before being mixed with frozen horseradish, and a quail boudin served with white Alba truffle and lashings of hazelnut oil. Helpful waiters – some on placements from prestigious European culinary colleges – are always on hand to help, while I’d recommend asking the sommelier to show you the champagne trolley to make this a night to remember. Alternatively, for those who don’t fancy fine dining every night, The Carriage Room is on hand to serve elevated but hearty Irish classics. 

For nightcaps, head to the Tack Room for a tipple accompanied by live piano, Irish chatter, toasts to good fortunes and a mindblowing array of whiskey. Comprising over 100 rare bottles and covering a selection of Scotch, Bourbon, Canadian and Japanese varieties, with the main focus on Irish, Adare Manor has one of the rarest collections in the world and has partnered with Midleton Whiskey on a select few single malt whiskeys, retailing at €2,500 per bottle. 

If your suite’s roll-top bath with views across the estate doesn’t keep you occupied for an entire morning, or you’ve already explored the hotel’s historical nooks and crannies, Adare Manor’s wellness facilities are, rather unsurprisingly, second to none. The Spa is the first in Ireland to offer customised facial and body treatments by Harley Street’s 111 Spa and Clinic, with must-books including the exclusive Rose Gold Renaissance treatment, utilising both rose quartz crystals and gold sheets for a luxurious top-to-toe experience. Elsewhere, you’ll find a nail salon, heated relaxation pool and sauna overlooking the River Maigue. 

The newest addition to Adare Manor’s wellness portfolio is the Padel Club, opened in 2021 as the first of its kind in Ireland. Complete with two custom-built indoor padel courts, a 17m swimming pool, gym, yoga studio, sports simulation room and facilities for an array of ball sports, such as golf, baseball and hockey, take your morning workout up a notch with private expert instructors on hand to assist you every step of the way. 

Perhaps courtesy of owner McManus, who is partial to a little tee time himself, or perhaps because Ireland is famous for its golf, the hotel boasts an extensive golf course created by renowned designer, Tom Fazio. So impressive are the golf grounds that Adare Manor will be catapulted to the sporting world stage in 2027 when it hosts the Ryder Cup. For those who wish to follow in the footsteps of homegrown talents Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Shane Lowry – or celebrity spectators such as Bon Jovi, Hugh Grant, Michael Douglas, and Catherine Zeta-Jones – guests can still book a round on the 18-hole, par 72 golf course before 2027. 

As I leave Adare Manor, it’s safe to say my original suspicions were confirmed: this is the closest a hotel will ever get to a fairytale castle. However, Adare Manor isn’t just a hotel, it’s an experience. From start to finish, the team here can’t do enough for you, but it’s the interiors, architecture, curated experiences and history that make this award-winning hotel what it is. A credit to Irish hospitality and the village of Adare, Adare Manor has rightfully been placed on the world stage – and there it should remain. 

From £517 per night, visit

Read more: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam: Subtle luxury and artistic gastronomy create five-star success