Monday, April 13, 2015

Royalty for a Night

Some reviews describe it as “beyond special”… “out of this world”… and “will take your breath away.” It’s hard to believe that these loaded descriptions are referring to a building, but Ballyfin in Ireland is SO much more than that. After spending less than 24 hours at this castle-esque mansion, I can confirm that all of these claims are (MORE THAN) accurate. However, there is no description that can convey it’s how special it truly is – it is simply something that must be experienced.

We stayed in the "Tapestry Room," which not surprisingly, had gorgeous ornate textiles covering all each wall. Our 4 post canopy bed was a dream come true...if we had more time here, I would have laid there all day and read books.

Our bathroom was larger than life and quite the sight for sore eyes...the chandelier...the oversized tub...the walk-in shower...the his and hers robes/sink. Can I live here?

Tea & sugar cookies upon our arrival...when asked if we wanted them delivered to our room or the library, my husband and I just looked at each other with wide eyes..."this is going to be good."

I loved this quote from a Tripadvisor review"The grounds are hugely impressive...Turns out rich, landed folks had nothing better to do 150 years ago than build grottos and towers." We spent most of our afternoon trolling these places spread throughout the 614 acre estate on our bikes (mint colored with a basket, can this be any more charming?). Our travels took us through the beautiful woods, down by the lake, near the grotto and into the gardens (to Grandmother's house we go...)

We also climbed a million steps up to the top of the tower, built as a folly in the 1860's (complete with a drawbridge and moat -- dreams are made of this stuff!) It was an amazing view that allowed us to see 6 different surrounding counties of Ireland. For a the brief moment at the top, we realized how far away from home we really were and how wonderful it felt to be so isolated from our everyday routine and stress.

Wearing: Sweater, Blouse, Jeans: Old Navy | Rain boots: Kamik | Sunnies: Target

After our afternoon adventures, we came back to our room to clean up for dinner. I loved that there was a specific time set for pre-dinner drinks so everybody gets ready and comes downstairs together yet there are so many (unbelievable) sitting rooms to choose from that you don't feel like you're crashing anyone else's plans. It just felt like an old tradition of friends gathering for a fancy dinner, speaking of which, was memorable for more reasons than one...

Wearing: Top: LOFT (similar) | Lipstick: Kate Spade

With this easily being the most high-end dinner we have experienced, we did our best not to make complete fools of ourselves when it came to etiquette. Use the right fork, sample your wine, pronounce Foie Grais correctly...oh, and still remain dignified after your second bottle of wine. Luckily it was smooth sailing! Thank you Princess Diaries for teaching me the importance of a palate cleanser.

Also, can we talk about my dessert choice? I don't recall the exact title but it can easily be renamed "chocolate heaven." Chocolate crust, chocolate mousse, peanut butter candies and oh yes...edible gold leaf...because why wouldn't there be?

After dinner, we headed outside and parked on the front steps of the hotel to check out the full moon. This was easily my favorite moment of our stay...while there were so many to choose from, I will always remember leaning on my husband's shoulder and turning around to see the front doors open...

A very kind gentleman from the hotel staff brought out 2 blankets and wrapped them around us to stay warm..not only was it such a sweet gesture, but the blankets smelled fantastic, a combination of the hotel and a wood burning fire. Sometimes, a smell can ingrain a memory in your brain forever. 

Before we headed up for the night, we walked around the hotel to see how everything glowed at night and one of the staff members offered to take our photo in the Gold Room. With nobody else around, it seemed like everything in that moment was all about us and it was the perfect way to end our stay.

Everything about our trip to Ireland was incredible and I am so glad we saved this hotel stay for last. I have collected many wonderful experiences in my life but this is one of those that earns a permanent spot in your heart and mind...a once in a lifetime moment. Thank you to the amazing Ballyfin staff for giving us this story to tell!

Full Disclosure: This post is not sponsored - I just HAD to share the details with somebody because I think my husband is growing tired of hearing me talk about it ;)