Welcome to the Ballyfin Demesne in County Laois, Ireland. Not much need to read a single review of this hotel before booking because it was voted the best hotel in the world 2016 by Conde Nast Traveler US. As if that’s not a good enough review to convince you, we have a few highlights to share detailing why you’ll love your time in Ireland at the Ballyfin.
Playing dress up is not just for the kids anymore
When staying in a luxurious Regency mansion it’s best to go all in to get the fullest experience. Of course this includes wearing period costumes! Despite the modern convenience of ordering everything known to mankind online, it’s still difficult to source a dress from the Edwardian era. But thankfully the Ballyfin has this covered for us. And with this experience, dress up isn’t just for kids anymore.
During the day, gather your group and head to the costume department in the Ballyfin. Yes, the hotel has an in-house costume department! Here you can browse the racks of period costumes brought here from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. You’ll have over 40 costumes to choose from and if you can’t quite decide, the Ballyfin has trained dressers to help you out. After you’ve chosen the perfect outfit, it will be waiting for you in your room when it’s time to get ready for dinner.
Once you’re ready to step into your very own recreation of Downton Abbey, you’ll be having pre-dinner drinks while a photographer captures just how awesome you look in the costumes. These pictures are sure to be the perfect framed memory of Ireland. The Ballyfin’s beauty and exquisite decor serving as the backdrop for these photos, in combination with being dressed in the most couture outfits this is a night you’ll surely remember for a lifetime. Dinner will be a lavish banquet feast fit for the royalty just like those who used to attend the feasts within the Ballyfin’s original walls. Your photos will be delivered to you the following day.
What awaits you at Ballyfin Demesne
Remember as kids when you dreamed every library had a secret bookshelf that opened up to something marvelous waiting behind it? The Ballyfin is here to make that dream come true. Before you go pressing on each bookcase looking for the one that moves, take a seat in one of the quiet corners for a game of chess or cozy up in front of one of the fireplaces. Your reading choices number over 5000, so there’s no issue finding something of interest here. Indulge in some tea or whiskey or wine tasting if the mood strikes. But ok, the suspense is too much! Go ahead and find the secret bookcase door. And what’s behind this secret bookcase door? It’s the only entrance to the Turner conservatory! And this is one room you’ll be coming back to everyday. A hidden door to the conservatory really does make it a secret garden. However, the conservatory is now a place to enjoy lunch, champagne or a canape. The best place to soak up the Irish sun while admiring the beauty of the structure.
The overgrown vegetation formerly in the conservatory was removed during renovation and has now been turned into your favorite breakfast and lunch spot. But if you’re still in the mood for a garden tour, the Ballyfin will provide. A large percentage of the fresh produce used here is grown in the garden on the Ballyfin grounds. The menu highlights what’s in season, and you’re free to tour the vegetable garden that will be feeding you during your stay.
The Ballyfin underwent a nine-year renovation before it reopened in 2011. The original house was built in the 1820s where an affluent family enjoyed it for exactly 100 years, with Edwardian photos showing their prosperity enjoying tea on the terrace and skating in the garden. Today, it’s one of Ireland’s most lavish Regency mansions sitting on 614 acres with 20 guest rooms. It’s a stunning mansion with perfection in the smallest details. Although fancy, it’s still somewhere you can relax. You can wear slippers to lounge in one of the sitting rooms and no one will bat an eye. The staff will probably light a fireplace for you and offer you a beverage. It’s luxury without pretense. You’re on vacation, after all.
With 614 acres, the Ballyfin activities pose a slight problem – it may lead to sleepless nights of trying to figure out how to extend your vacation. Although on vacation you do have the tough choice of deciding which activity to enjoy – fishing on the private lake, clay pigeon shooting, croquet, archery, or falconry. Perhaps you are looking for something a little less active? Opt for the pony and carriage tour of the grounds or enjoy a picnic at the grotto. But what if it rains, you ask? Head to the indoor pool that overlooks the courtyard garden, the spa and sauna are also nearby for your relaxation, or there’s the Cellar Bar downstairs in the old servant’s hall. With these indoor options paired with the grandeur that is the Ballyfin, a rainy day is almost welcomed on vacation here to feel no pressure but to stay in and explore what’s right here on site.