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Home > > BALLYFIN, County Laois

BALLYFIN, County Laois

At-a-Glance Guide

5* Relais & Chateaux. Children over 9 welcome*
20 bedrms inc 3 suites
bar, restaurant, terrace
drawing room, saloon, conservatory, library
spa, indoor pool, gym
600 acres of parkland, 28-acre lake, tennis, croquet
B&B from €590 per dble
Check in/out: 4pm/12 noon


BALLYFIN, County Laois

THE PAST:

Steeped in history, the site of Ballyfin at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the centre of Ireland has been settled from ancient times, and was ancestral home in succession to the O’Mores, Crosbys, Poles, Wellesley-Poles (the family of the Duke of Wellington) and later Cootes, who arrived in Ireland in 1601. The Coote family’s coat-of-arms is prominently displayed above the entrance of the present house, which was designed in the 1820s for a Sir Charles Coote, by the great Irish father-and-son architects, Sir Richard and William Vitruvius Morrison, and admired as one of the most lavish late-Georgian houses in Ireland. The Cootes enjoyed the house for exactly 100 years, employing a large team of servants in pursuance of a most refined Edwardian way of life, with tea on the terrace and skating in the walled garden captured in pictures of the time.

With political change, and the dawning of Irish Independence, the estate was sold to the Patrician Brothers who, for most of the 20th century, ran Ballyfin as a much-loved boarding school.

The house and demesne came under new ownership in 2002; however, its future was perilously uncertain as the house had fallen into disrepair over the years - as became all too apparent when a large part of the ceiling in the Gold Drawing Room collapsed due to wet rot. At the same time, masonry was falling from the façade and the Conservatory, choked with overgrown vegetation, was in a dangerous state. A painstaking restoration was begun, and would last nine years - significantly longer than it took to build the house in the first place. Skilled craftsmen worked on the elaborate inlaid floors, repaired the gilding and stucco, and treated disintegrating stonework. Following these emergency measures, a process of redecoration was begun, with carefully selected paint finishes, papers and textiles bringing the interiors back to life. Furnished with a collection of Irish art and antiques from around the world, fine Irish mahogany, French chandeliers and Chippendale mirrors, Ballyfin was once again a place of grandeur when it finally re-opened its doors as a small country-house hotel in May 2011.

THE PRESENT:

The house and its estate now comprise a destination resort that combines all the flavour of a grand private house with all the services of an international five-star hotel, offering a guest-experience like no other. Although surrounded by the formality of magnificent interiors, decorated with Irish art and antiques from around the world, and the same spirit of refined elegance that the early House reflected in the 1820s, Ballyfin today blends both with an informal, relaxed and easy-going approach that is wonderfully warm and welcoming – and typifies the very best of Irish hospitality.

There are endless opportunities to be as relaxed or as active as you wish at Ballyfin, and guests are encouraged to enjoy it at their own pace and in their own fashion. In the house, which is open to residents only, you can unwind in front of blazing log fires; dip into the collection of rare books in the library; swim, work out (perhaps with a personal trainer, who must be pre-booked) or enjoy an indulgent treatment in the spa; take art and history tours of the house, which is noted for its outstanding collection of paintings tracing the development of Irish art from the mid-17th Century to today; participate in wine- and whiskey-tastings and cookery lessons, and enjoy such entertainments as traditional Irish music and dancing in the Ballyfin bar, Irish folklore storytelling, or classical music performances in the Saloon.

Outdoors, the 600-acre estate offers formal gardens, private parkland, a 28-acre lake, ancient woods, follies and grottoes, all ideal for bird-watching and garden and estate tours. Activities include archery, croquet, tennis, boating, falconry, horse-riding, pony-and-trap, hiking in the nearby Slieve Bloom Mountains, biking in the Demesne, fishing, clay-pigeon shooting – and much more besides. And keen golfers will find some of Ireland’s finest courses within driving distance.

There is much else to explore further afield as well. Nearby attractions include the Birr Castle Demesne, Emo Court, Kilkenny - Ireland’s finest medieval city – and Dublin. Tours by helicopter, in a vintage car, or on foot in the Slieve Bloom mountains can be arranged, as can historical tours, personalised shopping trips, and more (pre-booking is essential).

THE PLACE FOR YOU?

Yes, if you want an escape from the stresses of the modern world - greeted on the front steps by the team of staff, you will feel that you are starring in your very own period movie. Yes, if you are looking for a hotel that combines elegance and service on a grand scale, with the small country-house intimacy of just 15 bedrooms.
This is a place of history and romance, of tranquillity and great natural beauty - the perfect location in which to celebrate special occasions, a wonderful wedding venue and, with its unparalleled seclusion and privacy, also an ideal setting for a business retreat.
Ballyfin welcomes children of all ages when the house is reserved by one group for exclusive use. For individual reservations we welcome children over the age of 9 years.
Ballyfin House and all bedrooms are non-smoking.

THE PROPERTY IN DETAIL:

RELAXING
The Saloon - at the centre of the House, and its comings and goings – makes a superb gathering place for one and all with its enormous Italian chimney-piece and blazing log fire. The Gold Drawing Room is Ballyfin’s grandest and most elegant reception room. It features French Empire-style decoration, and a beautiful ceiling of rich stucco work. The chandelier came from the Paris townhouse of Queen Caroline of Naples, sister to Emperor Napoleon. The 80’ Library occupies the entire south front of the house, and offers several cosy nooks alongside roaring log fires and over 5,000 books. Hidden behind a bookcase in the Library is a mirrored doorway that opens into the sun-filled tropical Conservatory – a delightfully informal space in which to relax.

EATING & DRINKING
Pre-dinner drinks are served from 7.30pm, which allows you to meet your host and other guests. It was in the grand Gold Drawing room that house-guests would assemble before dinner. It is, today, the perfect place to spend cocktail hour. Downstairs, the former Servants Hall has been converted into a stylish modern bar. Here informality reigns and the room provides a perfect setting for part of Ballyfin’s extensive collection of contemporary Irish art.
Breakfast and lunch (available from 12.30pm) can be enjoyed where guests choose , indoors or al fresco on the terrace. When out hiking, biking or simply relaxing, you can opt for a gourmet picnic hamper to enjoy in any location throughout the grounds.
Dinner is served until 9pm, and can be enjoyed wherever you may choose: from the grandeur of the State Dining Room - where a sumptuous tasting-menu is served nightly - to the intimacy of the Van Der Hagen room, or perhaps, when something simpler or a more informal setting is preferred, in the Library or the Bar. Dining is at individual tables unless otherwise requested.
An emphasis is placed on the finest ingredients sourced locally, wherever possible, from artisan suppliers. All breads and pastries are baked daily in-house, and many of the fruits and vegetables served are grown in the walled garden. Guests are welcome to pick their own, and to collect eggs from the free-range hens.
Executive Chef Fred Cordonnier is at the helm in the kitchen, and happy to meet with guests individually to discuss favourite foods, Irish recipes, particular ingredients and so forth, so that your preferences can be accommodated. With a maximum 29 guests able to stay at Ballyfin, this approach comes close to having your own private chef. (Ballyfin is in a rural location and should you have any specific dietary requirements, please advise these in advance of your stay.)
A highlight for many guests is a trip to the well-stocked cellar, guided by the sommelier, to personally select their wine so that it is perfectly decanted and ready for them at dinner. The Irish ‘Wild Geese’ winemakers of Bordeaux, who fled persecution at home, were among the most innovative viticulture pioneers of the 18th Century and in honour of this Irish contribution to France, wines from 14 vineyards established by Irish exiles.have been carefully selected for the cellar at Ballyfin Wine tastings are a regular feature in the Wine Cellar.

SLEEPING
Each of the 20 bedrooms and suites at Ballyfin is individually decorated, exquisitely appointed - with comfort as the main priority - and, as with the State Rooms downstairs, furnished with fine paintings and antiques. Rooms at the front of the house enjoy breathtaking views of the lake; those at the rear overlook the gardens and water cascade.
All rooms have white, 300 thread-count, 100% damask Egyptian Cotton bedlinen from Italy, with both down and hypo-allergenic pillows, and microfibre/terry bathrobes and slippers and a hairdryer. Bathrooms have Sally Miller handmade, natural ingredients soap and Voya 100% organic bath & body products. Your complimentary, in-room mini-bar is stocked with waters, soft drinks, juices and gourmet nuts. A narrow LCD screen TV with 16 channels, and DVD player are discreetly placed in each room, and all feature an i-pod and docking station, direct-dial phones in both bedroom and bathroom, plus wireless and broadband internet access. Unpacking, evening turndown and complimentary laundry services are offered, and dry-cleaning is available.

There is one Single room:
Formerly part of the nursery, the light and airy, double-aspect Morrison Room overlooks the Pleasure Grounds, taking in the cascade on one side, and on the other the 18th-Century gardener’s house and the walled garden behind. The bedroom is 183 sq ft; the bathroom is 96 sq ft. The room takes its name from the father and son team who were the architects of Ballyfin.
2017 rates, per room, per night:
B&B €380 Sunday-Thursday, €490 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €620 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).
FULL-BOARD €530 Sunday-Thursday, €640 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €770 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).


There are five Deluxe rooms:
The charming Marquis de Massigny de la Pierre Room is named after the French nobleman, Victor de Massigny, who in 1842 married Caroline, the only daughter of Sir Charles and Lady Caroline Coote. Fittingly, given its French connections, this room is hung with blue and white toile de jouy. On each side of the bed are late-18th-Century oval mirrors, framed with studs of blue and white glass.
The Mountrath Room, situated on the garden front with pleasing views out over the Conservatory to the pleasure grounds and impressive cascade, is named in recognition of the association between the Coote family and the town of Mountrath, 6km south of Ballyfin. It is decorated with soft lavender shades and a beautiful, harmonising, floral chintz. Above the black marble chimneypiece hangs Admiration by Richard Rothwell. Elsewhere, the room is hung with designs for Château Groussay, many of which were inspired by Irish follies.
The Tapestry Room, hung with 17th-Century Flemish tapestries, is one of Ballyfin’s most atmospheric and comfortable of the bedrooms. Located between the nurseries and Lady Coote’s bedchamber, and overlooking Sir Richard Morrison’s kitchen court, it was formerly Sir Charles Coote’s dressing room. The white marble chimneypiece room originated from the Georgian house that formerly stood at Ballyfin.
The Lady Sarah Pole Room, on the mezzanine floor, is named after Sarah, daughter of the Earl of Drogheda, who married William Pole in 1748, and whose dedication to the gardens at Ballyfin contributed so much to its great renown in Georgian Ireland. There are views over the pleasure grounds and the cascade. This delightful rooms features floral wallpaper and fabric, with softer blue and lavender shades for contrast., and retains its corner-set fireplace, with an attractively carved rosette and the original grate.
The Trellis Room evokes an airy garden fantasy and overlooks a private garden and fountain to the north east of the house. A French door gives access to a wide balcony with views to the East over the lawns and lake to the front of the house. The bedroom, which measures 255 sq ft, features specially commissioned wall paintings by Lucinda Oakes, some of whose work can be seen in the Dining Room. These evoke a series of summer garden views with flowers, fruit and trees framed in trellis work. The light garden theme is continued on the painted posts of the canopied bed, creating the illusion of a bed set in a garden. The bathroom, with its mirrored walls, measures 90 sq ft.
2017 rates, per room, per night:
B&B €590 Sunday-Thursday, €720 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €890 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).
FULL-BOARD €880 Sunday-Thursday, €995 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,190 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).


There are six Staterooms:
The Knight’s Room lies at the centre of the east front, set behind the entrance portico, the crisply carved capitals of which can be truly appreciated at close quarters. There are stunning views over the lake. A charming suit of armour in miniature, perched on a gilded console between the windows, gives this room its name.The elegant decoration, with various effects of green, is painted to imitate oak panelling, and there is a white marble Regency chimneypiece.
The Westmeath Room perfectly evokes the character of the furnished bedrooms of the house when it was built in the early nineteenth century. Exquisitely decorated in richly patterned ivory and gold wallpaper, it has - prominently positioned at its centre - a magnificently carved French bed.
The Maryborough Room, located above the Library on the south-east corner of the house takes its name from the county town of Laois. Established in the Tudor period, around a strategic site in the centre of the county, now identified with the town of Port Laoise, 9km east of Ballyfin, Maryboorough was named after Henry VIII’s daughter Mary. Its application to this delightful room recalls the peerage granted in 1821 to one of the Ballyfin’s previous owners William Wellesley-Pole. The views from this soft olive-green room out across the pleasure grounds are outstanding.
The wonderfully elegant Sir Charles Coote Room - known originally as the Writing Room - was Sir Charles’s study. This is the only bedroom on the ground floor, and hidden discreetly at the foot of the stairs. It is decorated in pale greens and soft beiges, and dominated by a four-poster bed. Beside the bed, a chest by Piero Fonasetti features the playful imprint of a classical façade. In the bathroom, the sumptuous marble sarcophagus bath, like the relief roundel above it, is a Roman trophy from the 9th Baronet’s Grand Tour collection.
The spacious and elegant Dr Beaufort Room commemorates Daniel Augustus Beaufort, an 18th-Century parson-scholar who spent much time at Ballyfin as a guest of the Pole family while he was Rector of the nearby town of Mountrath. His son, Admiral Francis Beaufort, gave his name to the Beaufort Windscale and to the Beaufort Sea. The room erlooks the fountain and a small private garden to the north east of the house; and has a balcony, from which there are views of the lake and the lawns to the front of the house. The bedroom measures 350 sq ft; the bathroom 117 sq ft.
The Viceroy Room - a spacious and comfortable twin, with a double bathroom, is situated in the former kitchen wing, and enjoys additional seclusion and privacy. Its half-octagon shape is particularly pleasing, and exemplifies the subtle manipulation of space for which Ballyfin’s architects, the Morrisons, are famous. The walls are soft yellow, complimented by an elegant floral chintz. Light pours in through a Diocletian window overlooking the courtyard. The room is named in honour of The Earl of Aberdeen, Ireland’s last Viceroy, who visited Ballyfin in 1911.
2017 rates, per room, per night:
B&B €770 Sunday-Thursday, €920 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,140 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).
FULL-BOARD €1,060 Sunday-Thursday, €1,210 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,430 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).


There are three Junior Suites:
The pleasingly elegant Lady Caroline Coote Room - formerly her boudoir – is acclaimed as one of the finest Empire-style interiors in Ireland. A trompe l'oeil-effect, vivid blue wallpaper transforms it into a seemingly tent-like enclosure, heightened by its graceful, rococo ceiling. This room perfectly reflects the interest in textiles seen in interiors of the Empire period.
The Butler Room, with its dramatic red wallpaper and bed-hangings, softened by beige accents, was originally the bedchamber of Lady Caroline Coote’s private suite. Many of the furnishings are Georgian - between the windows, for example, is a fine George II secretaire in pale mahogany with a swan-neck pediment.
The Little Library, situated on the mezzanine, is a spacious and welcoming retreat. Its bookshelves are stocked with numerous Irish-interest titles, while pictures displayed here include Bliss, by Erskine Nicol, and a portrait by William John Leech of his wife Elizabeth when they were on honeymoon. The large bathroom looks out over the pleasure grounds and the cascade.
2017 rates, per room, per night:
B&B €810 Sunday-Thursday, €980 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,250 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).
FULL-BOARD €1,100 Sunday-Thursday, €1,270 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,540 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).


There are three Suites:
The Duke of Wellington Suite was named after Arthur Wellesley, who spent time here during his early career in the Irish House of Commons, and later became Duke of Wellington. Featuring a bedroom and a sitting room each of which measures 225 sq ft, this suite is decorated in Irish country-house style, with a mix of iriah and English antiques enhanced by floral fabrics and blue-and-white striped silk. The sitting room overlooks the lawns, conservatory and water cascade. The bedroom features a four-poster bed; from the window, looking through the trees in the pleasure ground, the temple at the top of the cascade can be glimpsed.
The magnificent Wellesley-Pole Suite, named after William Wellesley, older brother of the Duke of Wellington, who inherited Ballyfin from his cousin, William Pole, in 1781, adopted the Pole surname and settled here. Situated in the centre of the garden front, and formerly known as the Garden Bedroom, this suite has an elegantly appointed, 280 sq ft sitting room with a chimneypiece in white and Siena marble, which is the finest example surviving from the Georgian house of the Poles. The bedroom measures 270 sq ft, the bathroom 140 sq ft. All rooms overlook the water cascade.
2017 rates, per room, per night:
B&B €920 Sunday-Thursday, €1,090 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,360 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).
FULL-BOARD €1,210 Sunday-Thursday, €1,380 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,650 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).


What was the largest bedroom in the house now forms the sumptuous Sir Christopher Coote Suite, which is named after the 15th Baronet - the senior member of the Coote family today - who has taken a close personal interest in the restoration of the house built for his great-great-great grandparents. The 603 sq ft bowed sitting-room, situated over the south portico, has views of the fountain and lake. A series of 18th-Century Chinese wallpaper panels, formerly in the collection of the Prince of Hanover at Schloss Marienburg, set the tone for decoration, with many complementary furnishings in the style of Chinese Chippendale. The bedroom, which measure 430 sq ft, enjoys similar views. The bathroom measures 129 sq ft and overlooks the conservatory and the cascade.
2017 rates, per room, per night:
B&B €1,090 Sunday-Thursday, €1,360 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,580 (1 Jun - 30 Sept)..
FULL-BOARD €1,380 Sunday-Thursday, €1,650 Friday & Saturday (1 Feb-31 May & 1 Oct-31 Dec excluding Christmas & New Year period); €1,870 (1 Jun - 30 Sept).


The whole of Ballyfin can be hired on an exclusive basis. *Please note that children of all ages are welcome when the house is reserved by one group for exclusive use. Please use the Make an Enquiry button below for a quote.

Nightly room rates are based on double occupancy – other than for the one single room – and are inclusive of daily breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, drinks from the minibar, and pre-dinner drinks reception, the use of most on-site recreational facilities, VAT and gratuities. A 25% booking deposit is required at the time of booking. This may be paid by credit card or by bank transfer; bank details are available on request. Upon receipt of your deposit, your reservation will be confirmed by letter.

A request for five or more rooms will be deemed a group booking. Please request Ballyfin's Group Terms & Conditions for a group reservation.


CANCELLATION POLICY: Due to our intimate size, any cancellations affect us significantly. Consequently, we adhere to a strict cancellation policy. Your 25% deposit is refundable if we receive notice more than 21 days in advance of arrival date. We do not refund deposits made within 20-15 days of arrival. Cancellations received within 14 days of arrival will be charged 100% of the booking arrangement. The same cancellation policy will also be applied in case the stay will be shortened. We recommend the purchase of Travel Insurance.

SPA
Ballyfin's indoor pool looks out towards a courtyard garden though floor-to-ceiling windows; loungers are arranged alongside the pool. The gym is fully equipped with the latest cardio-vascular machines, audio-visual equipment and free weights. Personal training is available on request. There are two treatment rooms - one of which can serve as a 'couples room' - and highly professional therapists to add further to your well-being experience, using the VOYA range from the northwest coast of Ireland, which has 100% certified organic seaweed as its base ingredient. The extensive treatment menu encompasses facials, massages and body treatments, manicures and pedicures. Treatments must be booked in advance of arrival to ensure the availability of a therapist.

OUTDOORS
Ballyfin is a retreat for its guests only. The landscape, laid out in the mid-18th Century, is among the finest examples in Ireland of the natural style of gardening inspired by ‘Capability’ Brown. Stone walls enclose 600 acres of private parkland, a 28-acre lake and ancient woods, and a number of delightful garden buildings, follies and grottoes. Among other highlights are the medieval-style tower, built as a folly in the 1860s, and the walled gardens.

The gardens and parklands are a delight to explore and picnics are offered to enjoy in the grounds. Within the demesne there are several miles of hard surfaced paths, plus miles of mown-grass paths, offering a gentle stroll or the exhilaration of mountain-biking. Golf-buggies are also available to tour the estate in.The Ballyfin Demesne is full of wildlife. Birds to be seen include kestrels, sparrowhawks, hen harriers, buzzards, long-eared owls, cuckoos, pheasants, kingfishers, swans, coots and moorhens. You may also catch a glimpse of a fox, roe deer, red squirrel, mink and pinemartin.

Outdoor activities include boating, canoeing and coarse fishing on the lake (for roach, pike, tench and eel), tennis, croquet, lawn bowls, biking, The sports field features hurling, Gaelic football, soccer, rugby, American football, badminton(equipment provided).
For the following activities, a charge applies and pre-booking* is essential: archery, falconry, clay-pigeon shooting, horse-riding, riding lessons in the paddock, pony & trap tours from the front door.
* Please enquire at the time of booking.

Tailor-made activities to suit guests’ requirements can be arranged, as can a wide range of off-site excursions - a tour in a vintage car, a helicopter tour , walking tours of the Slieve Bloom mountains, historical tours, personalised shopping trips and more. Pre-booking is essential.

Golfers will find that some of the finest golf courses in Ireland are within driving distance of Ballyfin. They include The Heritage (30km/18 miles); Mount Juliet (75km/45 miles) and The K Club (80km/50 miles).

Worried about the weather? Ireland enjoys a temperate maritime climate, due mainly to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the presence of the Gulf Stream. Known as the Emerald Isle, the country is so green because it receives a lot of rain - but there are sunny spells at times, too! Temperatures hover around a January average of 5ºC. Overnight temperatures often drop below freezing point, and ice and frosts are common. Typically, summers in Ireland have warm, sunny weather. Light rain occasionally occurs on days like these, but summer rain is usually restricted to a few wet days. In July and August, the conditions can become very humid. The average July temperature is around 15ºC, although in excess of 30ºC can be reached.

GETTING THERE
By road: Ballyfin is 58 km / 35 miles from Kilkenny; 95 km / 60 miles from Dublin; 160 km / 100 miles from Galway and 170 km / 105 miles from Cork.

By air: Dublin Airport is 100km / 63 miles away; Shannon Airport is 130 km / 80 miles.

By train: Portlaoise Train Station is 15 minutes from Ballyfin

If you require assistance with transfers to and from Ballyfin Demesne, your hosts are happy to make the necessary arrangements on your behalf, and would be delighted to arrange transportation of your choice – helicopter,chauffer-driven car, luxury mini-coach or self-drive - in advance of your arrival at Ballyfin.

Our Book Now and Make an Enquiry buttons connect you directly to Ballyfin.