Country house kids

Inventive cuisine, lough views, wooded walks, stylish interiors and kids welcome at Lisloughrey Lodge

Sat, May 25, 2013, 01:00

If you’ve children, some country house hotels can be a little on the daunting side. All those antiques everywhere seem like an embarrassing accident waiting to happen, and then there are the plumped-up perfect bedrooms that are so romantic when there’s just two of you, but wedge a child’s bed into the corner and watch that charm evaporate.

And in the hushed, more expensive ones there can be a sense that, really, they’d prefer no small children. But many are different – and increasingly so – and Lisloughrey Lodge on Lough Corrib in Co Mayo is one of them. It’s a country house that welcomes children and for parents, used to cramped room-sharing, its courtyard rooms are its trump card. They are modern, smart-looking duplexes with an enormous double bedroom upstairs and a large living room downstairs; the one we had had its own small patio. Plenty of space for a family with two small children – or even two lanky teenagers – in tow.

Lisloughrey is a handsome estate house, once belonging to Ashford Castle which is a short and lovely stroll away through a wooded area. From there you can walk to Cong village.

For decades the lodge was a fantastic perk of the job, the accommodation for the castle’s general manager. Then it was modernised and extended – including constructing a courtyard with outdoor hot tub – and turned into one of our first boutique-type country house hotels. It has its own definite style with contemporary furniture and fittings – jewel coloured sofas, modern lighting – that work in the beautifully proportioned old rooms.

Someone also had the inspired idea of putting the dining room, Wilde’s restaurant, upstairs at the front of the house. It seems an eccentric decision until you see the spectacular view of Lough Corrib thorough the tall sash windows. Over dinner at twilight it’s a melancholic sight, over breakfast it’s sunny and gloriously bright. Wilde’s takes up several small rooms so there’s an intimate cosy feeling.

Head chef Jonathan Keane was shortlisted in the Best Chef in Connacht category in the Food and Wine awards 2012. He’s a young enthusiast who uses local ingredients and a little foraging. His menu (it changes seasonally) has included Surf and Turf (scallop, cauliflower, smoked putog and raisins) and Birdsnest on the Roof (goat’s cheese, profiteroles, mango yolk and katifi).

There’s a games room and a cinema room for the inevitable rainy day.

A mini-break at Lisloughrey Lodge for two adults and two children under 12, includes B&B and a dinner in Wilde’s . It also includes a cruise on Lough Corrib and a family pass for Kylemore Abbey: €420. Tel: 094-9545400 or lisloughreylodge.com

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