A golfer’s paradise outside Dublin
The K Club, or Kildare Hotel, Spa & Country Club as it’s called, may be best known for its championship golf courses, one of which hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup. However, this sprawling, picturesque estate feels exclusive and comfortable, never stuffy like some golf resorts.
While golf is intertwined throughout the hotel, non-golfers don’t feel excluded, as there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. Built in 1832, the chateau sits on 550 acres, ensuring that even when the hotel is full, you’ll have your own space.
Every nook and cranny, from the spa to the individual guest rooms, is filled with something beautiful to look at — antiques, gorgeous baroque drapes, elaborate frescoed ceilings, original art and, of course, views of the lush green lawns of The K Club.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• The K Club’s sprawling grounds and golf courses are simply stunning. Golf lovers will can play on one of several courses, including those that hosted the 2016 Irish Open and the 2006 Ryder Cup.
• Adventurous onsite activities abound, including guided fishing expeditions along the River Liffey, which runs through the property, horseback riding, falconry and clay pigeon shooting.
• An extensive collection of art and antiques fills the halls and public spaces; art aficionados can participate in one of the property’s many art talks and tours, which highlight the important Irish works on property, including an entire room dedicated to J.B. Yeats.
• The Straffan House residence is an exquisite 10-bedroom country home that includes a private chef, butler, swimming pool, spa and gym. Christmas with here is especially wonderful with a gourmet dinner, opulent holiday decorations and a visit by Santa Claus.
What to Know
• Located down a meandering path through expertly manicured gardens is the indoor pool, enclosed by floor-to-ceiling windows.
• Be prepared to spend time wandering the hallways and popping into stunning rooms filled with intricately molded plaster ceilings. Many public rooms also offer bar service, opt for the excellent Irish coffee, best sipped in front of a roaring fireplace.
• The tranquility and impressive acreage make the County Kildare hotel feel remote, but it’s actually located close enough to stay the night before a mid-morning international flight (when many flights to America leave). Dublin Airport is about a 35-minute drive away.
• You can walk to the nearby village of Straffan in 20 minutes; downtown Dublin is about 20 miles away.
• Each guest room on property is decorated in an individual style and no two rooms are alike. That said, rooms are decidedly ornate with grand country manor décor — expect lush formal drapes, patterned wallpaper, original oil paintings and a whole lot of chintz.
• The K Club prides itself in its Irish heritage, which organic Irish bath products are provided, along with selections of Irish teas. (A Nespresso machine is also on hand for those who need something a bit stronger.)
• Many of the suites have been recently renovated and offer lovely views of the River Liffey or the property’s stately gardens. Of particular note is the opulent Viceroy Suite, which features a four-poster bed, sumptuous furnishings and a hand-painted bathroom.
• There are several dining options from which to choose, each with its own vibe ranging from casual to formal and everything in between.
• The Vintage Crop bar is a clubby space with fine whiskeys and cigars. While the rest of Ireland is mostly filled with Guinness, the bartenders here create custom cocktails.
• The River Room Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a grand atmosphere. Highlights include the fruity house red wine (a Bordeaux Reserve) and fresh mozzarella made with Irish dairy.
• The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel also offers less formal dining choices, including The K Thai restaurant, which features the cooking of head chef Thai Luong — he combines Thai and Asian recipes with Irish ingredients for a unique experience.
• Afternoon tea is held in the Chinese Drawing Room with views of the manicured gardens. A pre-dinner drink should take place in the Media Puzzle Lounge, a space with large French doors that open up to the gardens.