How to get there:
From Dublin, take Exit 6 off the M4
We were deluged a few years ago with new Country Estate Hotels with de rigueur Spa and Golf Course. Some were good, some were terrible, and some are just terrific – which leads me to the magnificent Carton House at Maynooth. Very few places can offer such a backdrop as it. Carton and Castletown are the two Great Houses familiar to Dubliners, and oft the destination of the Sunday Drive as kids. They were inextricably linked being homes of the famous historic Fitzgerald family and the setting for the stunning BBC television series The Aristocrats. Carton House, built in 1739, is absolutely magnificent and you will be agog at the glorious reception rooms and amazing stucco work done by the Lafranchini brothers. You can almost hear the rustle of silk ballgowns and soft slippers of bewigged servants. It has so much to offer in terms of relaxation and enjoyment. You can crash out in the Spa or slip off and shop ‘til you drop in Grafton Street whilst he plays golf on one of the two superb courses, designed by Mark O’Meara and Colin Montgomerie.
The sleek stylish ultra modern extension incorporates the old stonework and, in many areas, captures the wonderful serene feel of the formal gardens and great estate bringing it forward into a new era. Bedrooms are contemporary and smart with extra space allotted to the bathrooms, with both walk in shower and bath, and to the dressing area. The new foyer has a fantastic geometrically designed glass ceiling, ultra modern paintings and sofas, and to sit here at night under twinkling lights is just a delight.
In the Linden Tree Restaurant the food is seriously good and prices are very moderate for this excellence. I had a superb “Summer Salad of Fresh Lobster” followed by fab Seared Scallops circled around a tian of delicious potatoes layered with crispy pancetta. Save space for their Eton Mess. Buffet style breakfast is brilliant with an extensive selection of pastries, cheeses, charcuterie, artisan breads, fruits, the Full Irish fixings – and lashings of it. You can also dine in the nearby Club House or have casual food in the Kitchen Bar.
Go to Carton – it’s smart – it’s hip.