A former railway hotel that first opened in 1895, this 500-acre property on Kenmare Bay hosted Charles de Gaulle and Irish hero Eamon de Valera in its heyday. Those two would be surprised at Parknasilla Resort’s current iteration, which feels somewhat American, at least in a smattering of villas and lodges with open plans and oversize suburban-home-style furniture. The rooms in the main house are more traditionally Irish, with dark-wood beds, antique china and Waterford Crystal vases and lamps, and brocade-upholstered armchairs. They’re a bit old-fashioned, but there’s something comforting about that—as there is in the obliging staff, a group with the easy, effective air of seasoned experts. They’re particularly accommodating for families, and spacious villas make the hotel a good place for vacations with young kids or a bunch of cousins; there’s even a special spa menu for kids.
Willow trees surround the hotel and 12-hole golf course; the hotel’s name comes from the Irish phrase Pairc na Saileac, which means “field of willow trees.”
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The hotel is a 10-minute drive to the town center of sleepy, 600-person Sneem, which is on the famed Ring of Kerry driving route. It’s a three-hour drive from Shannon Airport and 4.5 hours from Dublin.
Need to Know
Rooms: 81 rooms, 9 suites. From $160. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The formal restaurant, Pygmalion, has a separate vegetarian menu (a novelty in many parts of Ireland). Doolittle Bar serves afternoon tea, casual food, and a kids' menu. (And clearly the management is a fan of George Bernard Shaw.) Spa and gym details: The loungers and pool of Parknasilla Spa overlook Kenmare Bay. There are 11 treatment rooms, an indoor swimming pool and outdoor hot tubs, a steam room, a sauna, and an ice fountain. The fitness area is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Who’s it for: Families—reunions or vacations with kids of any age. Our favorite rooms: Lodge and villa rooms are good for families. If you stay in the main house, ask for a renovated room with a sea view (renovations are ongoing). Seasonal closure: The hotel closes for much of November and December.