Travel advisor Caroline Kehm knows the UK. She lived nine years in London during which time she visited Ireland multiple times. But somehow, she never made it to Ballyfin.
That changed when Caroline found herself in France and decided to ‘pop over’ for a visit. She flew to Dublin, rented a car and drove about one hour and a half. Easy. And awe-inspiring.
“I was immediately in awe,” says Caroline. “In the middle of nowhere, by the side of the road, I came upon a giant metallic gate. I rang the bell, not sure I had arrived at the right destination, when suddenly, like in a magical fairy tale, the gate opened. I drove up a winding lane – not yet seeing the castle – when, bam. There it was. I felt like I was entering another era. The entire staff was lined up, waiting on the doorstep, dressed in their uniforms. I felt like royalty.
“Inside, are all the ‘real’ artifacts one would expect of a castle – nothing is a copy. For antique lovers and history buffs, Ballyfin is a paradise. The bedrooms are roomy and gorgeous, mine had two queen beds and two bathrooms (I came with a friend and loved that we each had our own full bathroom). The food was spectacular, very British with high tea – and, as everything is included, there was no need to go anywhere else for meals. Or to even leave the grounds.
“The property is quite big. We took lovely walks, biked, ran, swam (there is a nice indoor pool), rowed on the lake, checked the herb and vegetable gardens, climbed up the folly. And never worried about the weather. There were plenty of umbrellas and wellies for rainy days.
“Ballyfin is perfect for couples (I’m not sure children would truly appreciate how special it is). It is also especially nice for honeymooners. And worth stopping after a few days in Dublin; it’s a nice change of scenery. Definitely Downton Abbey.”