Need To Know
15, including three suites.
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability (€30). Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from $139.44 (€101), excluding tax at 9 per cent.
Rates include full Irish breakfast.
Not many hotels have a landscape art installation in their grounds, but Liss Ard does: the Irish Sky Garden, designed by the American artist James Turrell. It’s basically a massive green crater with a narrow metal plinth at its centre, where guests lie prone and look up at the sky – the idea being that everyone has the same view (Turrell is a Quaker, and previously designed a beautiful meeting house with a sky-hole). Exiting the tunnel is meant to mimic birth: you crawl through a dark tunnel, past a bright light and out through the, erm, woodland.
At the hotel
Extensive grounds with woodland walks, a lake and a landscape art installation; boats for hire, two treatment rooms, library, stash of CDs and DVDs, Nintendo Wii, free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV, radio, Voya bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Sleeping quarters are split between the Country House and the Garden Mews (the former stables, which date back to the 1800s), and are styled with the Scandinavian minimalism favoured by the Swiss owners. Rooms in the main house are larger and feel more romantic (apart from the Nursery Room, which has a cot and a toybox full of books and games for toddlers); we particularly like the pretty pastels and glossy wooden floors of the O’Donovan Suite, which spans a cosy living room and serene bedroom. Of the Garden Mews rooms, we prefer room six for its sweeping views of the grounds.
No pool, but there’s a big lake in the grounds with a little sandy ‘beach’ area fringed with reeds, and a jetty where guests can launch Liss Ard’s fleet of canoes and kayaks.
Some ripe yarns to spin for fellow guests at dinner; swimwear for the lake; a book of Irish folk tales to read by the fire; fishing rods and tackle; sheet music for the piano salon; iPad to download the hotel’s GPS treasure hunt.
Pets can come too for free, as long as you keep them out of the Country House (the main building). There’s space for them to bed down in the kennels, or they can sleep in a Garden Mews Room.
Liss Ard loves children: there’s a crèche, a kids club and an array of onsite activities to prove it. Go on boat trips, nature Discovery Days, bike rides, GPS treasure hunts and so on. Babysitting (with qualified child-minders) must be booked in advance.