Ballyfin was erected in 1826 by Sir Charles Coote, Premier Baronet of Ireland, and was a statement of just how wealthy and prestigious the Cootes were. Life was wonderful for the wealthy then and no expense was spared when the Cootes set out to create their Irish masterpiece – lavish artworks and furnishings were the order of the day, and a grand trip throughout Europe saw them return from Italy with an authentic mosaic floor, still greeting guests at the entrance today. There is the gold room, which takes its name from the gilded plaster ceiling and silk-covered walls; and a plush library where a bookcase doubles as a hidden passageway which leads to a stunning glass conservatory.
Ballyfin has been a labour of love for the current owners – a retired American businessman and his Irish wife. They’ve spent literally millions on a sympathetic renovation project and Ireland’s tourism is blessed they chose to open Ballyfin to guests (not day guests – the restaurant and grounds are only open to guests of the boutique hotel, ensuring absolute peace and privacy). Ballyfin truly is like a living museum and even features some of the original artworks, many depicting members of the old Coote family, which the current Coote family members decided to return to the walls of this incredible restored mansion.
The grounds are simply stunning – 600 lush, green parkland-like acres, walled gardens, grottoes, a medieval tower and kitchen gardens. Romance isn’t limited to the fabulous house, with these incredibly green (just how I pictured Ireland!) grounds offering endless possibilities for couples looking to reconnect – from walking the tracks, to a trail ride. You can even enjoy a romantic row on the lake, or if that sounds too strenuous you can arrange for a butler to row you while you whisper sweet nothings to each other! There is a gorgeous horse and carriage, a wonderfully romantic way to see the estate, or do as one guest did and arrange to be dropped to the local village pub by horse and carriage! My biggest tip? Be brave and rummage through the wardrobe of period costumes to choose your outfit for a ‘dress-up dinner’ – I wasn’t much of a costume or make believe person even as a little girl, but when everybody is sitting in the dining room dressed as though it is the 1800s, it feels strangely normal! If you didn’t feel as though you had stepped back to the 1800s before, you will certainly step back in time over dinner!
Find out more about Ballyfin and enjoy a luxury honeymoon or holiday in Ireland.