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There are plenty of perks of writing a blog and having a social media profile – a lot of which I have previously outlined – but getting to stay in hotels like Hotel Kilkenny, entirely free of charge, is definitely up there in the top three. (It vies for top place with not having to pay for one’s haircuts and being sent the latest cosmetic releases.)
It’s true, too, that a free hotel stay is, by its very nature, different to a paid hotel stay. Much like my review of the Fitbit Ionic, any hotel review that has been offered free of charge, or “comped”, in exchange for coverage, is somehow tainted. My hard-earned money wasn’t spent on this one-night break in Hotel Kilkenny; the staff knew to expect me, and that I was doing a review; we were giving an overnight stay with bed and breakfast, a 30-minute spa treatment and a three-course dinner. It can be tough to be entirely objective about such luxury.
That being said, it’s not impossible. Just because I didn’t pay for my stay doesn’t mean I can’t imagine whether or not it would have been worth the price: a one-night escape package, with dinner, for two people, comes to €155, while a half-hour spa treatment at the on-site Orchard Day Spa starts at €40. At a minimum, our little one-night stay would’ve set us back €235, or €117.50 each. Is it worth it?
Hotel Kilkenny: the lowdown
Like so many Irish hotels, the best thing about Hotel Kilkenny, hands down, is its staff. From the moment we got in the door of the hotel, which is a 15-minute walk from Kilkenny city centre, or 10 minutes in a cab from the train station, we were greeted with nothing but helpful, friendly staff.
I felt supremely comfortable asking for a late checkout – I have been known to chicken out of such requests due to the frosty glares from the staff on reception – and we all had a great laugh when the receptionist referred to my friend as “Mr Mac Cabe”.
The room itself, while a little chintzy for my taste – check out those velvet chairs! – was really comfortable, cosy (without being teeny tiny) and the mattress (God bless hotel mattress toppers) was incredibly comfortable.
We arrived on the Sunday afternoon, unpacked (you’d be surprised at how much I can bring with me for a one-night stay) and then fell asleep for about an hour. Yes, I am geriatric. That very long train journey (a whole hour and a half) really took it out of me.
When we awoke, it was time to get dinner in Hotel Kilkenny’s restaurant, Taste. As part of the package, we got a three-course dinner: I opted for chicken liver paté (which was very good), roast lamb and a warm chocolate brownie, while he opted for vegetable soup and steak. In a blasphemous turn of events, he skipped dessert; I will never understand anyone who skips dessert, especially if it’s free.
To be entirely honest, our meal – the paté notwithstanding – was nothing to write home about. It’s not that anything was bad, it’s just that nothing was particularly noteworthy. I felt as if I could probably have cooked as good a meal myself (and I very rarely think that). I will say that our waiter, who was, of course, incredibly nice, was very generous with the bread basket (little white rolls and brown soda bread), which was much appreciated.
The Orchard Day Spa
The following morning, after breakfast – it was a la carte, rather than buffet, which honestly I feel takes from the hotel experience slightly because I am a gluttonous baby – we headed to the Orchard Day Spa, right across the driveway from the main hotel reception, for our treatments.
I had opted for a Stress Buster Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage (€45) while he went for a Sinus Relief Indian Head Massage (€40). The treatments were definitely a highlight – I always opt for “deep” on the pressure menu and this was perfect, working away a lot of the knots that accumulate in my upper back and shoulders as I go about my very stressful life. (Jokes: I work at a desk for about 10 hours a day, so it’s no wonder my upper back and shoulders get tight.) My therapist also suggested that I work on foam rolling my upper back at home, and even went so far as to give me a little how-to – which I just remembered as I started writing this review, and must implement.
We checked out just after lunchtime on Monday and wandered into the city, grabbing some coffee and snacks en route to the train station, pretty refreshed and rejuvenated after our 24 hours at Hotel Kilkenny.
Hotel Kilkenny is a very nice hotel and, for the price, you’ll have a decent break. Our spa treatments were incredible and the room and hotel facilities are lovely. I’ve also heard great things about their leisure area – complete with 20-metre pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi – but I had just had my latest tattoo done (yes, though I walk in the valley of laser tattoo removal, still I love tattoos) and couldn’t go in the pool or enjoy the steamy / sauna-y areas.
I’d imagine it’s a pretty popular hotel for weddings – and, if I was going on a break away with my mum, where we literally wanted to read our books, chill out in our hotel room and go for a spa treatment, it’s an excellent choice, and a lot more economical than other spa options, including the likes of Monart. I bring that up to make the point: Hotel Kilkenny is not a super-luxurious, five-star, state-of-the-art spa hotel. But it is a city hotel whose staff are friendly, helpful and courteous, where you’ll get a decent break away without breaking the bank.