This Kildare getaway is a winter wonderland, and a treat for the taste buds. And we have a giveaway for your very own break…
Over the weekend, I made my way to Celbridge, Co Kildare for a pre-Christmas night away at the magical country retreat that is Cliff at Lyons.
The hotel is really special. Set in a tiny, beautiful village with a walled garden, gushing water features and postcard-worthy cottages, it’s not hard to see why it’s been dubbed one of Ireland’s most romantic breaks away. Particularly at this time of year, when there are festive decorations and lights all over, even adorning the magnificent trees.
At the moment, Cliff at Lyons is running a winter package: Lyons by the Fire. In a word, it is dreamy. To showcase the ‘garden to plate’ mentality of the hotel, to begin, there’s a tour of its farmlands, where guests will learn of the ingredients grown on site and meet its bees, Kuni pigs and chickens, as well as taste freshly-made Kombucha. This is followed by warming your bones over a roaring fire and sipping on a complimentary hot toddy or Irish coffee, a cocktail demonstration in the cosy Lion’s Den, a sumptuous feast in The Mill Restaurant, a peaceful night’s accommodation and cooked-to-order breakfast in the stunning Orangery conservatory. Plus, you leave with chocolates and a mulled wine mix from the fantastic CLIFF Home range, which is available to shop on-site in The Pantry. I told you: dreamy.
While there, I had to visit the newest addition to the estate, The Well in the Garden Spa’s Village Thermal (the French term for thermal baths). Set in an oasis of lush greenery and shaded by trees, it was utter heaven to sink beneath the warm bubbles of the hot tub and escape the icy temperatures. It was like a double whammy of relaxation: combining elements of a spa with forest bathing. Two Finnish barrel saunas are placed opposite the tubs, simple and elegant. My aching muscles were heated, any stress was melted away. All guests are offered a complimentary 45-minute session here; make sure to book your slot.
The real star of the show at Cliff at Lyons, even with its Disney-like courtyard and scenic grounds, is the culinary experience. Aimsir restaurant is a Michelin Star winner, and The Mill, where I dined, is led by creative, passionate Chef Sean Smith. Before making my way to the restaurant, which is a lofty, stunning room featuring windows that look out onto the mill race and waterfall and a huge, glorious open fire, I settled into the Lion’s Den for a pre-dinner drink. Beverage Manager Richard French talked me through his latest seasonal cocktail menu, and made me one of his delicious creations, ‘The Cliff Campfire’: Slane Whiskey stirred with peated Connemara 12 and House Marshmallow Syrup, garnished with a roasted marshmallow. It was the ideal balance of smoky and sweet.
Onwards to The Mill I went, and my charming, earnest waiter for the evening, Dylan, got the evening off to a great start. To begin, I went for Iberico cheek, which was melt-in-the-mouth moreish, followed by an exquisite piece of beef, perfectly charred but juicy. Dessert was an indulgent milk and white chocolate slice, with textured, creamy almond ice-cream. It really was an exceptional meal, and I’ll come back again in the New Year, just to eat Sean Smith’s next menu offerings – he changes it all the time, Dylan tells me
Irish Country Magazine has teamed up with Cliff at Lyons to offer you your own stay at this slice of heaven in Kildare. Click here to enter – we’ll be picking a winner this week.