Liss Ard Estate
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this Irish boutique hotel and unpacked their seaweed bread and smoked salmon, a full account of their Irish luxury country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a peek inside Liss Ard Estate in County Cork…
We have an Irish chieftain by the name of O’ Donovan to thank for Liss Ard, a tooth-white mansion built in the 1850s and set in emerald countryside. In the 1970s, the building was used as a hideout for Swiss spies, until the Austrians (the ones being snooped on) caused a fuss, and the house had to be quietly passed on to a Swiss charity. Liss Ard Estate has new Swiss owners now: ones with a penchant for Scandinavian simplicity. The 15 romantic rooms are dressed in cream, taupe and tan; there’s a relaxed restaurant with one communal dining table, and four plush but cosy lounges, with crackling fires and shelves crammed with books.
The grounds are Celtic to the core, though: a sprawling, mysterious, romantic Irish wilderness, with a glittering lake, silver waterfalls and a James Turrell art installation that aims for a universal experience – lie in the Sky Garden, looking up at the clouds, and you’ll understand. The Celts have always had a thing for sky-gazing (that’s why the Celtic cross has a circle in its design, representing the sun and the moon). Whimsy aside, one thing’s for certain – you won’t be bored here: there are boats to captain, fishes to catch, bugs to hunt (if you’re a budding Gerald Durrell), a lake to swim, bikes to ride and meadows to explore. If you ever wistfully read Swallows & Amazons, you’ll love Liss Ard.