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Review: Inside the five-star Kerry hotel that’s perfect for families with young kids


By Dominique McMullan
30th Jun 2024
Review: Inside the five-star Kerry hotel that’s perfect for families with young kids

The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens in Kerry is perfect for families looking for a luxurious but child-friendly staycation that feels like a million miles away. 

Before my trip to The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens, I held the belief that holidays with young children came with a stark choice: either opt for a kid-friendly hotel brimming with loud, brash activities and sticky surfaces…. or leave the kids at home. The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens has forever changed that perception. This luxury, chic five-star hotel felt just like that, while also being genuinely child-friendly–meaning my whole family enjoyed a fun and relaxing few days away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. 

 By adding in a few stops along the way (hello Obama Plaza), we arrived on a Saturday morning after an incredibly drama-free four hour drive with our two-year-old and five-year-old. The journey was comfortable, and we arrived around lunchtime to a blissfully sunny, beautiful Kerry day.

The reception at Dunloe Hotel and Gardens

Upon checking in, the staff at The Dunloe could not have been more welcoming and kind. My two boys were thrilled to receive Dunloe passports, which contained fun activities, including a fairy door scavenger hunt around the extensive gardens. They were also treated to ice-cold apple juice while my partner and I were handed warm towels. We felt utterly spoiled. Even before we reached our room, the hotel’s reception made a huge impression. This beautiful space features a triple-height ceiling, with walls lined with an exquisite collection of books, and a stunning stained glass roof adorned with the crests of the counties of Ireland.

The room was one of the best parts of our stay as it was so cleverly designed for a young family. It consisted of two adjoining bedrooms: the main bedroom boasted a spacious room with a large bed, a TV, a well appointed bathroom, and a huge  balcony overlooking a paddock with gorgeous haflinger ponies and their recently born foals. The adjoining room, smaller but equally charming, had three decent-sized single beds, its own TV, and bathroom. Importantly, this room did not have direct access to the corridor, ensuring no midnight escapes by the little ones. The boys were ecstatic, spending the first 20 minutes exploring every detail of “their.own.rooms”. 

 

The Garden room at Dunloe Hotel and Gardens
The Family Room at Dunloe Hotel and Gardens

We were all eager for a swim after the drive, so we headed straight to the swimming pool and were delighted with what we found: a bright, airy space with floor-to-ceiling windows, comfortable loungers, and a pool that was big enough for both kids and parents. Even the changing rooms felt luxurious, and nearby, the spa facilities, including a steam room and sauna, promised ultimate relaxation for adults, although we didn’t get to indulge this time around.

Dinner was a highlight, and the restaurant’s high ceiling, modern artwork and open kitchen design really caught the boys’ attention. The children’s menu was considerable, offering both the usual favourites like sausages and chips, and healthier options like homemade fish fingers and even a kids salad. The adult menu didn’t disappoint either, featuring a particularly delicious Caesar salad and a steak that I will be thinking about for a while. The restaurant’s spacious design meant we never felt crowded or pressured to keep the kids quiet. Many other families with young children were dining too, creating a really relaxed atmosphere. And the chocolate ice cream, according to my five-year-old, was particularly good.

After a great nights’ sleep, day two in Kerry began with an excellent breakfast buffet with fresh vegetarian omelettes, as well as porridge with chocolate chips for the boys. Then the real adventure began as we headed for the Gap of Dunloe though, where we met Dan and his beautiful pony, Nancy, for a horse and trap ride through the Gap. This was, as you might expect, a truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and taking in the most breathtaking scenery while on horse and trap must be the best way to experience an Irish landscape. With each mountain bend our horse Nancy trotted happily, while Dan regaled us with the history of the area and stories of naughty mountain leprechauns. It was sad to hear from Dan that his horse and trap family-run business will most likely not survive another generation. 

The view of the Gap of Dunloe from Dunloe Hotel and Gardens
The pool at Dunloe Hotel and Gardens

Returning to the hotel, we enjoyed a quick lunch before heading back to the pool and playground. The Dunloe’s playground is beautifully designed with wooden structures and a view over the fields, catering to all age groups. And if that wasn’t enough, during summer months there is also a Kids Club at The Dunloe, which hadn’t yet opened on our visit. We also visited the stables to see the ponies being fed their lunch, much to the boys’ delight.

The view of The Gap of Dunloe from the Dunloe Hotel and Gardens

Dinner on the second night was as delightful as the first, with an excellent wine selection of exceptional quality. After another fulfilling day, we fell into bed, happy and exhausted.

The next morning, we left The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens refreshed and delighted. This truly exceptional five-star hotel is perfect for families looking for a luxurious staycation in Ireland, that feels like a million miles away. It was a treat for us and for our kids, offering the perfect balance of luxury and child-friendly facilities. I couldn’t recommend it more. 10/10.

Bed and breakfast in a family room with a Parkland View for two nights in July 2024, for two adults and children, currently costs €840.

Dominique McMullan and her family were guests of The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens