Imagine a grand, Italianate, Georgian, Irish country house, gorgeous but lived-in, run as a guesthouse by its old-school owners since the mid-1980s. Imagine their son growing up there, then leaving to work at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and later as General Manager at Babington House. Imagine that he then returns, takes over the reins and runs the hotel his way. You are imagining Ballyvolane. Filled with antiques, oozing atmosphere, it’s also – thanks to deft touches introduced by Justin Green – somewhere that’s cool and stylish too. It’s that hard to achieve thing: a place where one can unwind, but makes its guests feel glamorous and special. There are Persian rugs, antiques, quirky retro tables, leather Chesterfields, roaring fires and a lavishly stocked honesty bar, with Justin’s own delicious gin, Bertha’s Revenge, taking pride of place. The bedrooms are lovely, and the food, eaten communally, unless you specify otherwise (you won’t), delicious. Breakfast is served whenever you want. Doubles from £190.
Do: Take a guided canoe trip on the River Blackwater from Ballyduff to Lismore, then visit Lismore Castle Gardens and Arts afterwards.
Eat: At the hotel, because you’ll never want to leave.
Buy: The hotel’s Bertha’s Revenge gin – it would be rude not to.
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