Words by Tanya Grimson
October 9th, 2018
From the moment you enter Sheen Falls Lodge situated on the Wild Atlantic Way and just outside the quaint town of Kenmare, Co. Kerry, it becomes decadently evident that design, art and creativity are at the heart of the establishment. Behind the reception desk sits a giant commissioned acrylic painting on the wall symbolising the local surroundings of Kenmare, with floral and fauna all hidden inside beautiful rich paint strokes. This is the first time you are introduced to local artist Christine Bowen, but it is not the last, as most of the hotel’s original paintings were commissioned by Bowen, drawing on her inspiration from working and living in Kenmare. These paintings appear in hallways, bedrooms and the lobby, but they are also interspersed with other artistic crafts such as iron sculptures and wooden carvings.
Sheen Falls Lodge is unlike other 5* resorts I have stayed in, as although it has the scale of a larger hotel with 52 bedrooms and suites, it has the atmosphere and the attention-to-detail that you expect from a boutique hotel. There is nothing uniform about the surroundings, it is clear from the interior design, created by London-based interior design studio, Hugo da Silva, that using luxury craftsmanship from the area was crucial to the overall tone and ambience of the Lodge. Every corner of the hotel surprises you with elements of beautiful artisan design with a focus on mixing and merging contemporary materials such as perspex and steel with wool, wood and straw to the most luxuriously comforting effect.
We had the privilege of staying in the Oscar Wilde suite, situated in the basement of the hotel and designed as one large open plan en-suite room to indulge you from the moment you step inside. De Silva explains that “the bedrooms were designed as a visual echo chamber of the external landscape and work as a complement, bringing the softness and serene ambience inside for guests to enjoy”. The room features two sofas, one in rich mustard velvet and the other covered with mohair blankets and throws. Knitted pouffes grace the floor leading up to the super king size bed, big enough to sleep a small family of four.
This particular suite has its own private terrace directly overlooking the falls with its own wooden gate that allows you direct access to the bar and spa areas without having to meander through the long corridors. The outside landscape and the serene tones of the room create an oasis of tranquillity as the sound of the water cascading from the waterfall allows you to fully immerse yourself in the comfort of your surroundings. I had one of the best nights sleep here, not only due to having enough room in the bed to sleep sideways, should I have chosen to, but the gentle babble of the water outside provided the best lullaby soundtrack I could have asked for.
We dined in their 2 AA Rosette restaurant, The Falls, on our first night and in Kenmare town on our second. The Falls is everything you would expect from a 5-star establishment, featuring elegantly designed features of plush velvet chairs, white tablecloths and large windows that allow you to soak up the scenery during your meal. It is quiet but that is what this hotel uniquely offers you – an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, an opportunity to simply regroup, take stock and unwind. The food on the menu offers seasonal menus based on local suppliers and if you, like me, love cheese, don’t leave without sampling their cheese board with the most exquisite selection of locally-made cheeses with flavours that linger on the palette.
Breakfast in The Falls is equally as elegant with a selection of both à la carte and buffet to cater for your every need. If you can, try to get there early to get a window seat so you can start your day on the just the right note of serenity as the water from the overlooking falls sets the tone.
Take advantage of the hotel amenities; situated on 300 acres of woodland, there is plenty to choose from. You can choose to relax in their Easanna spa and the quietest pool I have ever had the luxury of enjoying, or take advantage of some of the adventure activities on offer such as clay pigeon shooting which myself and my husband tried and thoroughly enjoyed, or borrow some bikes and go for a 6km cycle that loops around the estate and riverside. Other activities to try include kayaking, fishing, horse riding, falconry and tennis so being bored is simply not an option.
The beauty of this hotel is how it transcends seasons; some resorts or retreats work particularly well for one season but not so much for another and despite soaking up the warm rays from our terrace, overlooking the incredible scenery (we visited during the summer when it was 25 degrees Celsius outside), I remember thinking how I wish I could also experience it during the winter so I could snuggle up and really take advantage of the sumptuous warmth of the décor, the open fires and the cosiest throws your room offers you. It made me think of enjoying port and cheese by the fire, feeling eternally grateful for being inside.
For the two days that we stayed in Sheen Falls Lodge, we were transported into an oasis of tranquillity, beauty and refinement and it was hard to give that back. I am envious of anyone who has yet to experience it and as we approach our winter season, I couldn’t think of a better place to batten down the hatches and enjoy all that the lodge offers you.
For more information or to book your stay, visit sheenfallslodge.ie.
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