“Escape the Living” is the tagline used by Kenmare town to describe itself and I cannot think of words more apt to describe it as there is a holiday atmosphere in Kenmare 24/7, 365 days a year. There is a buzz whatever the weather and you will find art, culture, a unique charm and our true Irish heritage around every corner. It was the first town to be awarded Heritage Town of Ireland and its natural beauty is inherent in that the north of Kenmare is home to Killarney’s National Park while the town itself is nestled into the beautiful Kenmare Bay.
Kenmare is one of my Top Holiday Destinations in Ireland for many years now so I was thrilled when The Kenmare Bay Hotel invited me to write a review on their holiday lodges that are very popular with families. We stayed here a few years ago in the hotel so we knew we would not be disappointed.
Family Friendly Accommodation
The Kenmare Bay Hotel is located at the edge of Kenmare town. There is a path that will take you directly to town and it is very safe for the kids. I would suggest leaving your car at the hotel as this is only a short walk (approx. 5 mins) and it can be hard to find parking in Kenmare town itself.
The Kenmare Bay Hotel have family rooms in the hotel but on this occasion we stayed in The Lodges and went self-catering. The lodges themselves are gorgeous and had all the comfort and luxury of a hotel room but with the added space and convenience of self-catering. I was really impressed with the kitchen as we had everything from coffee machine to American style freezer and even kiddie cutlery and plates etc. The picnic table in the patio area was perfect for dining outdoors and the beck garden was enclosed and very secure.
We were in a two bedroom lodge, so the three kids were in one bedroom. The two older ones were in a large double split into twins, and Lonán was on a pull out couch. They were thrilled to find they had a TV in their room as we don’t have this at home and it was a real novelty as well as the ensuite bathroom. Our own bedrooms was also very spacious and the décor was fabulous. The living and kitchen area is huge and the sitting area was lovely and cosy to relax in, in the evenings with a glass of wine.
Family Friendly Activities
Our favourite feature of The Kenmare Bay Hotel was the swimming pool as this is where you will really notice the family welcome. We must of went here four or five times during our visit and each time the pool staff were supervising and would bring out toys (watering cans, ducks, balls) noodles, dive sticks and even inflatables. There was a small slide and goal posts so it is a great pool to play in. The baby pool was very big and the main pool was extra-large with plenty of room for everyone. When the pool did get very busy I noticed the life guards would take their seat on their perch so it was clear to see safety was paramount. The box of arm bands for those who forgot their own was a thoughtful facility as it can very easily happen and be quite frustrating to have to buy a new pair when you have a perfectly good pair at home. If there was an award for the best family friendly hotel swimming pool The Kenmare Bay Hotel would win it hands down for me.
Other family friendly facilities onsite include an excellent outdoor playground that is enclosed and very secure. The playground equipment was very modern and there was something to suit all ages with plenty of seating. Guests can also make use of the playroom on the second floor but this would be more for younger children and toddlers.
The kids club is located in a purpose built room with cooking facilities, perfect for their regular baking classes. My two signed up for this and Saoirse was delighted as they offer gluten free flour for coeliac as standard so she got to make brownies too. What impressed me here the most was how knowledgeable they were about gluten free which put Saoirse and I at great ease. They also had a craft to make in this session. The crafts were fun and interesting with the team members guiding the children through every stage. It was almost like an art class. In the evening they tend to do a messy craft alongside the activity assigned. It is easy to see that this kids club is well planned out with full time staff offering a real quality kids club experience rather than just a standard babysitting service.
Family Friendly Activities Nearby in the Top Holiday Destinations in Ireland
With plenty to do onsite and the town to explore you won’t have time for much else but if you do get an opportunity to head out I would recommend taking a drive to enjoy some of the amazing scenery in and around Kenmare.
The drive to Killarney is gorgeous and along this road you will find Kissane Sheep Farm, a Large Mountain Sheep Farm. The Farm is situated in The Killarney National Park. The famous panorama of Moll’s Gap is in the middle of the land, overlooking the farm and its animals. You can visit the Farm, see Sheep Dog Demonstrations & during the summer to also see the Sheep Shearing Demonstration. In the spring time there is an opportunity to see the many baby lambs that will be born on the Farm. Since they are a busy working farm they only open to the public for demonstration purposes so just check times and dates before you strike off.
Kenmare is home to a true hidden gem, Gleninchaquin Park. Gleninchaquin Park is a park like no other in that it provides breath-taking landscapes and scenery. There are streams with log bridges, mountain paths with carved steps, through rock passages, along glens and lakes to higher altitude. Not to mention the spectacular rock face waterfall. While it is a magnificent day out for a walking enthusiast it is also a magical place for families as there is plenty for the kids to see and if you are lucky like we were the last time we visited we bottle fed some baby lambs. This is a perfect picnic spot and there is even a BBQ area. The kids will love the freedom as well as the interaction with livestock every now and again. I discovered this place many years ago and I am raving about it ever since. The views are so amazing they will even silence the children.
On this visit I discovered another hidden gem on the road from Kenmare to Kilgarvan, The Kilgarvan Motor Museum. We saw a sign post and followed it not expecting to discover a large shed that housed the most impressive private collection of vintage cars.
Craig and Thomas are passionate about cars and were blown away at the sheer quality as well as quantity of vintage cars. There must have been 60 or more cars on show from Model TT’s to Porsche and everything in between including American Cars.
While the collection was impressive enough, the owner, John really made the visit for us. He was extremely knowledgeable and engaged in an in depth discussion for over an hour about the cars and their history. Thomas was enthralled, Craig was in his element and even I learned a thing or two.
The photographs and memorabilia of including that of the last Cork Grand Prix in 1938 is what caught my eye and again John offered great insights into this. Many of the cars had a story to tell including a Rolls Royce that was used in world war two and the body work had to be replaced due to bullet holes as a result of a skirmish.
Craig promised Thomas that he will take them back on a day trip over the winter and I don’t know if it is more for himself than Thomas. Follow the signpost from Kilgarvan, it is about 2 miles outside the town. For more information Click Here!
Dining at The Kenmare Bay Hotel
On our first evening we dined in the hotel itself in their restaurant not only because it is easy after the journey down and unpacking but also it is very family friendly. I was delighted to see the kids play corner that had been there on a previous visit, a facility I have yet to see repeated. It is a neat little corner tucked away in the restaurant with plenty of toys, games and books to suit every child. I loved that families are placed around the immediate area of the play area and couples and other guests without children and further away so you do not feel you are disrupting anyone.
The children menu was very well thought out with Buzz Light-year and Frozen themed food options to name just a few. Lonán’s Olaf the Snowman dessert went down a treat so much so that she looks for it in every restaurant since.
It was easy to see that the waiting staff were very family friendly and patient with children not only from our own service but I noticed when they brought menus to a table they also brought age appropriate toys for babies and toddlers that would not make their own way to the play area without even being asked.
The following morning, we went up to the hotel for breakfast and we were delighted to be able to have a relaxed breakfast in peace. Lonán ate a big breakfast quickly and without complaining on the promise that she could run off and play. Now we could enjoy a nice long coffee. I must say if you have babies or toddlers this is the perfect restaurant to reintroduce you to the world of dining out. However, my older two picked up books and other bits to play with at the table also.
Kenmare really is a foodie town with plenty of eateries of every style to choose from. On our second evening we decided to walk into town with the kids to wander around the shops, go for dinner and walk back to the hotel after a little glass of wine or two. We came across the The Lime Tree Restaurant on a previous visit as the building is gorgeous and it sits in such a picturesque setting in the town itself so we were excited to try it out. We must have spent 10 minutes pottering and watching the chef picking herbs in the garden before we went in.
The kids were in such a relaxed form after the walk and wander around the shops so we could enjoy the gorgeous décor and sumptuous surroundings. There was something to look at in every nook and cranny and the restoration of this building was something to behold. We knew at this stage that the food would not disappoint. That and the fact the restaurant filled up very fast.
A lot of the ingredients are locally sourced and very well presented. The choices for the children were excellent and as coeliac, Saoirse and I were spoiled for choice. The food was superb and probably one of the best dinners out for some time. I enjoyed the house wine so much that I took the name down to try again.
We were too full for dessert but had to try it as we knew it would be excellent and they had Gluten Free Apple Crumble which is a rarity. It was worth the pain even if I could not finish it.
We were slow to leave as we were enjoying the relaxed surroundings and atmosphere and could have easily sat here for the night. The Lime Tree Restaurant certainly makes it to my top ten family friendly restaurants in Ireland. When you are self-catering it is nice to splash out on one really nice dinner and this restaurant is a special treat.
The only downside I would have is that the playroom was a bit small and could do with a little seating area for parents to enjoy a coffee and paper while the kids potter and may be toys for older children.
The lodges of The Kenmare Bay Hotel offer all the luxury and comfort you would desire in a hotel break with the convenience of space, privacy and self-catering. Kenmare town, a world class destination coupled with the family orientated swimming pool, kids club and playground of The Kenmare Bay Hotel makes the perfect partnership for a fantastic family break and worthy of the accolade of Top Holiday Destinations in Ireland.