Looking for style, panache, luxury and the chic? You've come to the wrong place. However, taken in the right spirit, Castle Leslie can provide to those with a keen sense of humour, a love of the past, an aesthetic spirit or merely delusions of grandeur an experience without equal in the British Isles if not Europe but it must be approached with care. If you're idea of the perfect break is to be pampered in a state-of-the-art spa before sauntering into a cool and sophisticated lobby for cocktails and retiring to a cutting edge designer suite then you will be in for something of a surprise.
At the outset it must be stressed that the Castle is not a "hotel" in the traditional sense. There is no glitzy reception with an ever so helpful concierge. The public areas (open only to residents) are an eclectic mix of superlative fine art and shabby tat. To stay at Castle Leslie is to step into someone's private home complete with eccentric relatives and same very bad taste in decor. Beside a glorious Della Robbia altarpiece can be found a host of tattered Persian rugs, sofas which like the children's character Bagpuss are a little loose around the seams and dusty modern prints all of which are often viewed soft focus under their shroud of dust. Having said that, this is as close as one can get to actually having the run of an Anglo-Irish estate. The Castle is a perfect repository of 300 years of one family's occupation and to stay therein is to be transported back to a stylish hunt party of the 1930's given by the local Irish squire whose family have seen somewhat better times but still manage to keep up the party spirit. Taken in the right spirit, snuggling up by the blazing fire in the drawing room after a superlative dinner served with old fashioned style in the splendid Dining Room and waited upon by the friendliest and most helpful staff I have ever come across is as close to heavenly as one could hope.
Every bedroom in Castle Leslie is unique, but this seemingly charming quirk can be a double edged sword depending on which room you choose. As a general rule, the rooms and suites on the first floor (with the exception of the Print Room which I find rather poky and uninviting) have the best proportions and many have perfectly stunning views across the "Green Lough" which gives the neighbouring village its name. The famous Red Room is by far the most splendid looking room and is an absolute must if you wish to stand proudly amid the jealous glances and admiring exclamations of your fellow guests as they parade in on one of Sir John Leslie's tours (be warned: the tour enters the Red and Mauve bedrooms on the first floor after breakfast which can rather embarrassing to those who have not tidied!). With its enormous Seventeenth Century four poster and spectacular bow window overlooking the lake, it looks every bit the fairytale castle bedroom. However in the cold light of day one might be forgiven for feeling that it is rather tatty around the edges. Furthermore, whilst the famous Victorian "Throne" in the bathroom, resplendent in red velvet and dark mahogany, looks nothing short of spectacular, the Victorian plumbing can give rise to some rather unsavoury odours especially in the summer. I find the Mauve room rather easier to digest.
The Green Room again has the superb looks of the perfect Victorian bedroom and is one of my personal favourites but the lack of en suite facilities (the bathroom being rather unhappily squeezed in under the main staircase across the hall) may prove beyond some. Many of the second floor rooms are accommodated under the roof of the Castle and thus have sloping walls and sometimes intrusive beams. I find Norman's Room (another pit stop on the morning tour) rather grim as befits its haunted status and it lacks the wonderful roll top baths found in most Castle rooms. I would also tend to avoid Anita's Room as the bedroom is again quite small and the bathroom (when one has recovered one's sight from the shock of the totally zany florescent orange paintwork) is a dreadful 1970's horror. The newly created Eagle's Nest Room is probably the most popular on this level and has a wonderful copper bath and its own lake-view balcony.
The new basement rooms continue the eccentric decor of upstairs though a couple (especially Sir Jack's Room) are quite conservative by comparison. The Room of Calm has a wonderful two-person hot tub underneath a colourful celestial light display but the room itself has no view whatsoever and is comparatively very small.
Overall, Castle Leslie if approached in the right spirit is one of the most magical places to stay in the British Isles and is utterly charming. The food (under the care of a former White House Chef) is absolutely superb and the staff are without doubt the friendliest and most efficient team I have ever come across and I cannot praise them highly enough. No request is too great or too strange and they are ever at hand without being at all intrusive or smothering. At Castle Leslie once one has become accustomed to the surroundings and has shed the sneaking irksome suspicion that Ms Leslie is laughing up her sleeve as she jets off to some exotic location, the stay becomes one of the most sublime experiences that could be hoped for.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Castle Leslie Estate, nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodland and glittering lakes, is one of the last great Irish Castle estates still in the hands of its founding family. Castle Estate is waiting to be discovered. Located in Co. Monaghan, Ireland, the Estate is only 80 minutes from Dublin. The Castle (20 individual guestroom), at the heart of the Estate, offers authentic original interiors and old-style hospitality and is a complete respite from the world. The Lodge (29 guestrooms) is the social hub of the Estate and brings locals and guests together in an atmosphere of conviviality and comfort. The Old Stable Mews and Village Cottages are the perfect spot for families and groups that want the convenience of hotel living combined with private luxury home rental. The Estate offers an idyllic setting for outdoor activity and adventure. It's the perfect place to discover the thrill of exploring the countryside on horseback or foot. You can spend a few hours fishing on one of Ireland's best-preserved lakes. Alternatively, you might prefer to enjoy a massage in the Victorian Treatment Rooms at the end of an activity packed day or relax with a book in one of our many beautiful rooms. Other activities include hot air balloon rides,falconry, kayaking, clay pigeon shooting, boating and picnics. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Castle Leslie Estate Hotel Glaslough
- Castle Leslie Estate Ireland/Glaslough, County Monaghan