This year my birthday happened to fall right beside Mother’s Day, which seemed like a great excuse for a night away with my mam. Only too happy to take the hint, we whisked ourselves away to the wonderful Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny for a mini escape. Though we didn’t do much apart from eating and walking our way around the estate, it was just perfect!
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If you’re looking for a break away from everything, even one night at Mount Juliet will help to recharge your batteries. It’s so peaceful and relaxing here and though it’s one of Ireland’s finest country estates, it’s not at all formal or pretentious. We found everyone so friendly and down to earth and I could have easily stayed for a few day without feeling the need to leave the estate at all.
Just 90 minutes drive from Dublin and 20 minutes from medieval Kilkenny, Mount Juliet Estate is sure to fit the bill whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or a relaxed break with friends or family.
Overnight in the Manor House
Nestled in the beautiful Kilkenny countryside, Mount Juliet is surrounded by 1500 acres of lush gardens and woodland. There are a number of accommodation options including the magnificent Georgian Manor House where we spent the night.
The Manor House dates from the 18th century and has 32 luxurious rooms, including 2 suites. It’s a really impressive building both inside and out and looks every bit as wonderful as it must have been back in its heyday. With its stucco ceilings, chandeliers, period-style furnishings and large open fire places, it manages to be both elegant and homely.
We had a spacious double room and on the ground floor with super comfy beds, a large ensuite bathroom and all the usual mod cons. I loved the bold and colourful wallpaper, though you definitely need a big room to pull it off. It actually felt quite Christmassy thanks to the dull and wet weather we had the afternoon we arrived!
We were almost tempted to just kick off our shoes, grab our books and just relax in the room. Instead we took a little wander. Exploring some of the pathways near the house, we made our way to the lovely walled garden not far away. The colourful daffodils and wildflowers everywhere did the job of lifting our spirits!
Other accommodation options at Mount Juliet Estate
After leaving the garden we walked a little more, passing some of the other accommodation options available. Hunter’s Yard Hotel is a more recent addition to the Mount Juliet Estate, offering 93 extra rooms including doubles, family rooms and suites. There are also self-catering options available at the Chauffeur’s Lodge or Walled Garden Lodges.
We were keen to keep exploring but it would have to wait. We were booked in for afternoon tea in the Major’s Bar and it was time to go fill our bellies.
Opting for a small table by the window, we took in the stunning views across the river Nore. On the other side of the river, cute new foals were finding their feet in the fields of Ballylinch stud. Then afternoon tea arrived and we were more distracted by the three tiers of yumminess in front of us!
Everything looked so good and most importantly fresh. It’s so disappointing when you get afternoon tea and the sandwiches have clearly been sitting around for a while getting crusty. Not a fan! Our savouries were different as I had the veggie afternoon tea while my mam went for the regular one. Everything else was the same and we didn’t take too long before we had worked our way through most of it!
I’m a sucker for a good scone and can confirm that Mount Juliet do very good ones! As well as jam and cream there was even delicious lemon curd for a change. The dessert tier included the cutest little bottle of fresh lemonade too. I haven’t had that with an afternoon tea before and it was a really nice and refreshing addition.
I didn’t even twig till later in the evening that we didn’t receive our glass of prosecco, which was supposed to be included. That’s really not like me! Just goes to show how much we were enjoying the food I guess. Still, I might just have to use that as a excuse to go back. I’m sure it’s not to late to claim it, right?!
Walks at Mount Juliet Estate
When we finished it was already quite late in the afternoon and the only other thing we had planned for the evening was dinner. So we figured we’d better do some walking in between and we also bumped our dinner booking forward an hour. That gave us at least a slim chance of getting some appetite back after all the food we’d had!
There are five different walking trails around the estate so you can find something to suit depending on what you feel like. When we asked a member of the staff they gave us a map and some suggestions, before pointing us in the right direction to get started.
This time we crossed the river, taking the Paddocks & River Trail. The trail takes you along the river bank across from the Manor House, before following a loop around the paddocks of Ballylinch stud. It’s a really peaceful trail and took about an hour. Back at the Manor House we headed to our room for a little while until, you’ve guessed it, it was time to eat again!
Dining at the Manor House and Hunter’s Yard
Lady Helen Restaurant
If you’re a foodie, you’ll probably be keen to try out the opulent Lady Helen Restaurant in the Manor House. The restaurant has a Michelin Star and is open Tuesday to Saturday. We happened to be staying on a Monday night, so it wasn’t an option for us but I’m a fan of the less formal anyway.
The Hound at Hunter’s Yard
Instead we ate at The Hound, which offers a more casual dining experience at Hunter’s Yard. It’s just a few minutes stroll from the Manor House but we were still offered a lift there as we left the Manor. We declined but I can imagine if it was lashing rain or you were wearing crazy heels, it would be most welcome.
Not quite over our afternoon tea, we decided to skip the starter and just had a main. My mouth is actually starting to water thinking about the delicious Roast Butternut Squash and Sage risotto I had. It really was that good. We did manage to find the room to squeeze in a dessert too. I went for the Rhubarb & Ginger Tart but ended up eating most of my mam’s Warm Almond Sponge instead!
Service could have been a bit better. We were tucked away at one end of the conservatory and it felt like we were a little forgotten about at times. However we weren’t in any rush so it didn’t particularly bother us and when we did get attention the staff were lovely.
Cocktails at the Saddle Bar
After dinner we headed into the Saddle Bar next door. Birthday celebrations call for a cocktail after all! We went for two of the three signature cocktails on offer. They are the Tizzie, Viper and Turks, named after the previous owners favourite dogs. I can’t even tell you which ones we had now, but they were bloody good! We may have also indulged in a little nightcap back in the Major’s Bar before retiring to bed for the evening.
Next level breakfast!
Again with the food. I know, but I did warn you at the start that our stay was all about food and I think that breakfast deserves a special mention. If you stay at the Manor House, breakfast is served in the Lady Helen Restaurant. The room itself is very impressive and then you have those same stunning views out the the river that can be enjoyed from the Major’s Bar.
You have all the usual offerings for breakfast and then a menu selection. I was just going to stick to cereal and toast but the lovely lady serving us convinced me to go for something from the menu. She suggested the pancakes as they are nice and light. Mmmm, yes they are and very delicious too as it turns out! I also had a taste of my mam’s Boxty and let’s just say that I don’t think you can go wrong here!
Things to do at Mount Juliet Estate
After breakfast, I took a quick walk back across the river to see the foals frolicking in the paddocks. The sun was shining and I really didn’t want to leave but all too soon it was time for us to head back to Dublin. We hadn’t even taken advantage of any of the amenities or activities available but that’s the beauty of this place. You can do as little or as much as you like.
If you are lucky enough to have a longer stay at Mount Juliet Estate, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy…in between the eating of course!
Leisure Centre, Pool and Spa
I didn’t do my research properly before we visited and didn’t even realise there was a leisure centre with a 17-metre pool. Nor did I take my own advise, which is to always throw your togs into your bag, just in case. Total fail! There’s also a spa offering a full range of treatments.
It you’re more of an outdoors person, you’ll find plenty of activities to help work up your appetite! Apart from the walking trails you can try river or lake fishing, tennis, falconry, horse riding or archery. There’s also the world-class golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Bicycles are also available at no cost, to explore the woods, riverside paths, and gardens throughout the estate.
If you can bring yourself to leave the estate, it’s only a short drive to nearby Jerpoint Abbey which is well worth a visit. In just 20 minutes you can be exploring the medieval streets of Kilkenny and a little further afield you’ll find the fascinating Dunmore Cave.