Lakeside Luxury With a Difference – Dromquinna Manor Review
Mention the word camping and most Irish adults will have a selection of childhood tales to regale you with. I am no exception, for I am of an age that, if you did not spend some of your summer holidays in a tent in either Courtown or Tramore, your childhood was lacking some integral piece compulsory to your upbringing. And to be fair, I loved our family camping outings that would last for weeks. I recall the brilliant sunshine, the excitement each morning as the tent was unzipped, and the taste of sausages cooked in the open air was like nothing on earth.
My siblings would all agree – camping holidays allowed us a freedom that we didn’t have at home. Of course, as I grew older, the fun of camping was quickly replaced with the delight of hotel luxuries like a mattress and a bathroom. I still like to remember my childhood camping days as fun-filled, bright and sunny. in truth, the reality of camping has no real appeal nowadays. Who wants to run the risk of bad weather, damp sleeping bags and the dreaded fear of touching the inside of the tent and making it leak? No, my camping days are well and truly over, or so I thought until I had the pleasure of visiting Dromquinna Manor in Kenmare recently.
Dromquinna Manor is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Forget the image you’ve had of public camping areas with basic supplies, clumsy, flimsy tents and little to no privacy. There’s nothing basic about this impressive waterside estate that boasts luxurious tents carefully laid out amongst hardwood trees and indigenous shrubs for ultimate privacy and comfort.
Set on 40 acres of parkland planted in the 1800s, this establishment boasts six distinct businesses including luxury camping or ‘glamping’, dedicated motorhome pitches, a wedding destination, and a Boathouse Bistro, all of which complement one another. Dromquinna Manor is a reminder that you don’t need to go abroad to experience a luxury wedding or holiday, and with custom made tents designed specifically for Dromquinna Manor by safari tent experts in India, they will redefine your definition of both luxury and what a camping holiday entails.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that the view of Kenmare Bay at Dromquinna would rival any in Europe, and you won’t need to catch a plane to get there. Based in our very own County Kerry, this is truly an Irish gem to watch out for. With only fourteen luxury tents overlooking Kenmare Bay, it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the peace, tranquility and spectacular view.
Less than two minute’s walk away, you will find The Boathouse restaurant offering delicious produce and a selection of gins to rival any establishment in Ireland. I chose the Botanist Islay gin and with no less than 31 botanicals, it’s easy to see why it won Spirit of the Year in 2013. It was delightful. The ambience in the Boathouse is light and airy and conducive to both large family gatherings and a romantic dinner for two. The wine list is impressive and the menu champions a huge range of local producers.
We chose the St Tola’s Goat’s Cheese with a beetroot relish and Tiger Prawns Pil Pil to start. The cheese was served with a filo pastry and crisp salad leaves, while the juicy prawns were served with chorizo and garlic – delicious.
My dining companion could not resist the temptation of the Boathouse Burger for mains, while I chose the Hereford Steak which was served with portobello mushroom, caramelized onion and pepper sauce. The steak was cooked to order and did not disappoint. The highlight for both of us has to be the mashed potato which was truly outstanding (in fact, I wasn’t surprised to see diners taking their leftover mash home with them – I certainly would have too, if I had any left over!).
Main courses are substantial but it is hard to resist dessert when the delights on offer include a Tarte Tatin and a Chocolate Brownie. We enjoyed these sweet treats with tea and coffee looking out at the beautiful Kenmare Bay. How could one not be content? A stunning view, great food, excellent service and all within two minutes walk from a seriously comfortable bed.
So back to the business of glamping….. As nightfall approaches, two lights on the bed’s headboard provide adequate light in the tent. We had hot water bottles in case of a chilly night, but they were not necessary. The bed was super luxurious and we enjoyed an excellent night’s sleep. There are no words to describe the feeling of unzipping your tent, lying back on plump pillows and witnessing the sun rising over Kenmare Bay to the sounds of birds chirping in the trees. I urge you to try this magical experience for yourself.
Shower and toilet facilities are located nearby and along with fresh towels on our bed, we were delighted to see a range of Voya shower products. In the true spirit of glamping, there was no need to haul out a little stove to heat some water for our morning coffee. Instead, each tent received a picnic basket along with a pot of fresh coffee. We chose to enjoy breakfast in bed and few words were spoken as we absorbed the view while eating pots of yogurt and granola, nibbling on fresh croissants and sipping coffee. Bliss.
For the more industrious, there are full kitchen facilities available for campers and a lovely touch is a fire pit that is lit every evening. This is the perfect spot for toasting marshmallows and swapping stories with fellow campers in the firelight. All too soon it was time to check out but not before we took a wander around the gardens. As well as the playground for children, the gardens have lots of little areas for the little ones to run free amongst wild flowers and tall trees.
The whole place exudes an air of serenity and I can certainly see why many couples choose to host their wedding at Dromquinna Manor. I can just imagine the happy couple renting this 1890s Manor to accommodate family and friends, and then exchanging their vows at the water’s edge. This is the perfect setting for creating wonderful memories.
At Dromquinna, the Proprietors also take social responsibility seriously. Whenever possible, they employ locals and give back to the local community on a regular basis. They use renewable energy, recyclable plastics and their toiletries are biodegradable. The local produce they use really is local produce, in fact, I believe up to 75% of the produce on their menus comes from within a ten mile radius of the estate. This might be luxurious camping but it is also camping with a conscience and it really is inspiring to see this estate reduce its carbon footprint wherever possible.
As I write, I think about my lasting impression. It has to be that view. You owe it to yourself to go see it.
Prices for a Luxury Couples Tent at Dromquinna Manor start from €150 per night.
Author of “Food from an Irish Garden”, Fiona Dillon lives with her husband and four children at Hunters Lodge in Co Carlow. Her recently published “Freddy Buttons” series of food adventure books for children (Orpen Press 2015) were written so that Fiona could share the food provenance message amongst young children. Her Freddy Buttons food-themed garden at Bloom 2015 won Fiona a silver medal.
One of Ireland’s best known food bloggers, Fiona documents her back to basics lifestyle through her blog www.fionadillon.com. She is also a feature writer for the Irish Farmers Journal’s Irish Country magazine. As Food Correspondent for KCLR96FM’s The Saturday Show, Fiona shares the latest food news from around the country with her Carlow/Kilkenny listeners. When she’s not busy giving talks on topics such as sustainable living or blogging, Fiona can be found tending to her honeybees or writing the next epic adventure for Freddy Buttons.