Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Heritage Golf & Spa Hotel Killenard - So Close Yet So Far from the Elusive Five Stars


There's not many among us that don't love a bit of five star luxury when it comes to a hotel escape, especially when a five star hotel provides an experience that lives up to that accolade. When it came to The Heritage Golf & Spa in Killenard, things happened to be a mixed bag. 

Sue & I were lucky enough to escape for a night away last month. We wanted somewhere close to Dublin & Kildare as we didn’t want to travel too far for just one night away. A decent Spa was also top of the requirement list so we could relax & unwind. I had been gifted a Spa-Ireland voucher so I also wanted to use that. 

The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort in Killenard, Co Laois was chosen as, on paper, it fulfilled all of our requirements. We paid €140pp for 1 night B&B, Dinner & a champagne cocktail, 2 hours use of the thermal spa was also included in this rate.


It’s best advised to book your dinner in the Arlington Room to avoid disappointment, so we did just that. We both opted for steak & I have to say it was the best presented and tastiest I’ve had in a long, long time. Sue commented that it was the nicest she's had anywhere, ever. We paired it with a delicious Chilean red, there is plenty of choice on the wine list with prices starting at a very reasonable €25.50 per bottle. 

The staff in the restaurant were friendly, efficient & knowledgeable about the dishes on the menu. A 5 course set menu is €45 with a surcharge of €5 for steak. I highly recommend the Arlington Room if you are looking to treat that someone special. I will be going back just for the steak alone! The Arlington is open for dinner 7 days a week from 6:30pm.


After dinner we went to the bar for a few cocktails to unwind & chat. Service wasn’t the best unfortunately and just not on a par with the treatment we'd already enjoyed. We waited over 20 minutes after asking the Assistant Bar Manager could we order a cocktail. 

Having lost hope of him coming back, I spotted the bar tender had returned and went to the bar to order. He was indeed full of apologies for the delay and informed us that, despite champagne cocktails being part of our package, they're not available and whipped up two of the tastiest Singapore Slings we've had. In fairness staff seemed inundated with a full bar so we retired to our room after just the one. 

We had a stunning view of the golf course from our room on the second floor. The room itself was gorgeous, understated luxury. The large bathroom was well stocked with fluffy towels and luxury toiletries to be used with the walk in shower or the most decadent roll top bath. 

We had two of the softest double beds with equally soft pillows, it felt like I was sleeping on marshmallows. It made for a wonderful first full night of sleep since having my son last October.


Breakfast is served back in the Arlington room, which was particularly dark with drawn curtains and doors, though the sun was splitting the stones outside. Unfortunately the cooked breakfast wasn’t as appetizing as hoped so I went with a fresh fruit salad and Sue opted for waffles & berries, which went down a treat.  

After breakfast we headed up to our room to don our robes & slippers to go to the Spa for the morning. There is an underground tunnel from the hotel to the spa which is accessed via lifts using your room key card. While we were staying the tunnel is undergoing renovations so it was quite cold & damp for the 5-6 minute walk from the lift.

There was a fiasco with our room key not working in the lift at the other end of the tunnel so we ended up having to walk the distance back to find the lift wouldn't accept our key card either, we eventually exited through the tunnels emergency exit to the car park. Believe me it’s no fun when you are in a car park in nothing but your swimwear & a robe when its -3 degrees. On the way back it happened again & our room key wouldn’t work, we met another lady there who was having the same problems since the previous day. 

We later suggested that a simple intercom or open phone line at point of entry to the spa would have saved our 20 minute debacle and our sub zero, half clad car park appearance. While the spa itself is a perfect little oasis, I can only imagine that many a trip has been marred with that simple omission. 


Speaking to the General Manager at check out, he accepted that some issues are in need of attention. He attributed the gaps in service to the hotel having been in receivership for 5 years (which has unfortunately been the case in many of Ireland's luxury hotels) but he assured us that a new owner had taken charge and there are big plans afoot for their 10th anniversary in June. 

We were advised that the hotel would be back up to 5 star standard by then, unfortunately that's really not much help to guests in the interim. If you are looking to book a stay, I'd maybe hold off a couple of months so you can enjoy the full 5 star luxury that I'm sure The Heritage can offer. If you have a special event coming up though, dinner in The Arlington Rooms is worth the trip alone.

Have you stayed in The Heritage before? How did you get on? We'd love to know!

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