Travel: The Heritage Killenard where service and style are above par
The Heritage Killenard has hospitality and homeliness down to a tee as Helen McGurk discovered on a trip to the Co Laois hotel
As the days darken and we edge ever closer to the festive season not knowing if another Covid lockdown is imminent, planning a new year break, particularly a staycation (who could be bothered these days with all the red tape of foreign travel?), is balm for weary souls.
During the summer my family and I visited a gem in Co Laoise - The Heritage Killenard - we only spent a night there, but impressions were so good we will hopefully return come January...it’s the only thing keeping me going during the dreary drudge of the winter months.
Nestled in the quaint village of Killenard, between Portlaoise and Portarlington, the Heritage, built in 2004, is a sumptuously modern four-star hotel with a superb parkland setting overlooking the renowned Seve Ballesteros-designed championship golf course.
But, it’s not all about golf, which is great news, given the fact none of us own a pastel Pringle sweater or plaid pants and wouldn’t know an albatross if one landed on our heads.
Facilities on offer
The hotel also boasts a tennis court, children’s playground, spa, a health club with a gym and fitness studio as well as a 15m leisure pool, Jacuzzi, saunas and steam rooms, great food and a warm welcome.
The surrounding area is close to the gentle rolling hills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains while horse racing at the Curragh, Naas, Punchestown and Kilbeggan is close at hand. Kildare Village shopping outlet is nearby as well.
During our stay strict Covid measures were in place, which was comforting.
On arrival a machine measured our temperature and there were one-way systems and plenty of hand sanitiser stations dotted about.
The hotel’s stand-out feature is undoubtedly the atrium which stretches three storeys high and is awash with natural light, with a polished marble staircase its centrepiece.
However, it is the staff who are the hotel’s greatest attribute. The receptionists, the waiters and waitresses, and everyone who works there, are among the friendliest this roving reporter has encountered on her travels. We felt well tended to - exactly as you one should in a hotel of this calibre.
A smiling concierge showed us to our penthouse with it’s own hallway opening on to a series of palatial rooms with a balcony and seating overlooking the golf course.
The decor is like something out of a design magazine, and my children immediately announced they want to move in forever. Understandable, really.
Attention to detail has quite clearly been at the top of the list, with porcelain floors, unique coffee tables, rugs, art and furniture. It’s like a home from home, only miles better!
There’s a master bedroom with king-size bed, boasting comfort levels befitting royalty, dusky pink panelled walls, a beautifully upholstered headboard with bird motifs, quirky lamps, an ensuite and even a walk-in wardrobe. This is definitely no bland, samey hotel accommodation.
Our kids take up residence in the twin bedroom, which also has its own en-suite.
There’s a fully equipped kitchen, much nicer than my own, with a dining table and chairs and everything you could possibly need to cook up a meal, should you wish. There’s even a washing machine and Nespresso coffee machine.
The living area has an electric fireplace and TV, with L-shaped Sofa, perfect for sprawling on.
Dining in style
The splendour of The Heritage Hotel flows into Blake’s Restaurant. Executive head chef Tom Comerford takes pride in sourcing local produce, the best Co Laois and neighbouring counties has to offer.
Once again, the decor is Instagram-worthy with plush velvet seating and modern booths. It’s a warm contemporary setting, a perfect backdrop to indulge in some fine, but unfussy, relaxed dining.
Among the tasty treats we enjoyed were grilled fillet of Atlantic seabass, homemade linguine pasta and slow cooked rib of Mount Leinster beef. All cooked to perfection and packed with flavour.
Desserts are decadent and delightful, with blackberry cheesecake. with lemon curd and Chantilly cream and Callebaut dark chocolate delice, a coffee ice cream, brandy snap crisp, among the offerings.
After dinner, guests can lounge on comfy sofas in the atrium or enjoy a drink in bar Seven, which features a classical mahogany wood oval shaped island bar and offers fantastic views over the beautiful grounds and the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Seven also offers a casual dining menu.
The hotel’s award-winning breakfast is also served in Blake’s, offering a wide selection of hot dishes, pastries and plenty of gluten-free options to set you up for the day. We enjoyed the intriguingly named Paddy O’s Irish oatmeal, with cream and mixed berries, and a vegan breakfast with spinach, avocado, roasted Mediterranean vegetables and baby potato.
The kids loved the fluffy housemade buttermilk pancakes and waffles.
Although we didn’t have time for afternoon tea, I have heard great things about it - so perhaps that’s for the next visit.
If you can tear yourself away from the luxury, the Rock of Dunamase, an imposing and magnificent example of a Celtic fortification overlooking the valley of the O’Moores, just outside Portlaoise, is well worth a visit.
Meanwhile, Emo Court, the only country villa in Ireland designed by the 18th-century architect James Gandon, is also a must. Its garden contains a rich variety of trees, the most famous of which are the wellingtonias – giant redwoods – planted along a mile-long avenue up to the house in the 1850s.
*The Heritage Hotel is currently offering a Total Indulgence package from €235.00 pps. It includes: 2 Night Bed & Breakfast, afternoon Tea on an afternoon of your choice, dinner on one evening in Blake’s Restaurant, an array of heat, sensory and aqua therapies, 50 Min Spa Treatment (choice of Espa Aromatherapy Massage or Espa Personalised Facial or Indian Head Massage), one hour in the Thermal Spa Areas is also included and there’s a 10% Discount Card for Kildare Village available for guests on this package. For more information T: +353 (0) 57 8645500 E: [email protected]theheritage. com
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdowns having had a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to newsletter.co.ukand enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.
to sign up
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.
Ben Lowry, Editor