Sheen Falls Lodge, Ireland
Where is it? Once the summer residence of the Marquis of Landsdowne, Sheen Falls Lodge is in southwest Ireland. Thoroughly reconstructed and managed by Relais & Chateau, the five-star resort overlooks Kenmare Bay and is set on a 121-hectare estate crammed with wildlife, streams and cascading waterfalls.
Luxurious or basic? Luxurious by even the most exacting standards. The highest-rated hotel in Ireland
in one 2005 survey, the lodge retains the white-glove appeal and atmosphere of a posh country manor house. Rooms and suites are airy, spacious and well appointed, with luxurious marble bathrooms and views of the waterfall or bay.
Who should visit? Romantics, golfers and people who adore creature comforts, spa treatments and award-winning cuisine and wine.
What's on the menu? Sheen Falls offers a variety of dining experiences, the most formal of which is at La Cascade restaurant, which serves outstanding cuisine with an international flair, accompanied by selections from a first-rate wine cellar. Stylish and modern, La Cascade's elegance is enhanced by views of the river and the falls, both floodlit at night. A three-instalment tea service is served in the Sun Lounge and casual meals may be taken in Oscar's bistro or the cocktail bar.
What else is there to do? The estate supports a plethora of outdoor activities: salmon and trout fishing on a private stretch of the Sheen River; daily horse-riding treks from the stables at the lodge; hill walking; cycling tours; clay-pigeon shooting and floodlit tennis. The health and fitness centre boasts a gymnasium, Jacuzzi, sauna, plunge pool and steam room and is the venue for a variety of massage and other treatments. Nearby is the attractive town of Kenmare, with quaint shops, restaurants and an 18-hole golf course.
What's the bottom line? Rooms start at $2,641 a night in winter and go up to $17,200 for the presidential suite in summer. For more information visit www.sheenfallslodge.ie.