Last year I stayed at the breathtakingly beautiful Ballyfin Demesne – a 614 acre estate located in the heart of Ireland.  It was an out-of-this-world experience, and I’m so excited to share it with you!

First, the small feat of figuring out how to get in…

Ballyfin has a tall stone wall surrounding the entire property, thus ensuring maximum solitude. I admit I felt a little nervous when we finally found the gate and wasn’t sure if they’d let me in! 😉

But sure enough they did, and we began the scenic drive to the main house:

Ballyfin has only 20 rooms, and with meticulously maintained grounds, a lake, and “curiosities” such as a grotto and a castle tower, you could bike or golf-cart around the whole estate hardly seeing anyone else.

We were greeted by a number of Ballyfin house staff standing outside, who were so down-to-earth and friendly!  We entered the main hall, where there were boots and umbrellas for guest use.

Once we checked in and settled in with a beverage (fresh squeezed apple cider made with apples from their orchard – I kid you not), we were guided up the stairs to our room. The robin’s egg blue walls were decorated with stately portraits and a fabulous chandelier.

I was definitely feeling the Downton Abbey vibe throughout my stay (in the best possible way!) – doesn’t the hallway even look like it belongs in the show?

We stayed in the Knight room – named after a miniature suit of armor in the room.  The room was extravagant yet intimate with a fantastic four-poster bed, fireplace, and thoughtful touches such as lavender sachets (with, again, lavender from their orchard!).

(shout-out to my Away luggage – this workhorse goes with me everywhere :))

We had a lovely view of the lake and the top of the Ionic columns:

And of course Ballyfin windbreakers for exploring the grounds – I definitely wore mine!

I admit I’m totally a sucker and bought the coffee table book about Ballyfin – which I ended up reading from cover to cover; it was very interesting!

The bathroom was to die for.

And would you expect any less? They had their own soap.

After thoroughly checking out our room and wandering through the house, we took advantage of the bikes to explore the hundreds of acres. (We also had the option to use golf carts, which we did the next day!).  And there was so much to explore!

In addition to cycling around the lake and woods, we loved discovering “follies” such as this medieval-style tower built in the 1860’s.

We also biked to the highest part of the property, which, not going to lie, was a trek. The view was worth it, though.

We visited the flower orchard, from which all of their arrangements and sachets were sourced, as well as their AMAZING fruit and vegetable orchard that deserves its own post (coming soon!).

We paid a visit to my friendly horse friend (there were two horses, but one was shy).

Paid a visit to the back of the house, where we got a fantastic view of the water feature and fully restored conservatory – perfect for having lunch of settling in with a good book.

Having worked up our appetites, we returned to the house to prepare for dinner – cocktails in one of the many sitting areas, anyone?

Martha Stewart would be proud of these arrangements:

The library was overflowing with books and cozy sitting areas – the bookworm that I am, this was one of my favorite parts of the house.

And what house would be complete without a hidden door? The below bookcase is not what it seems – it’s actually a secret door to the conservatory! Very tricky!

Beverages in hand, we toured the outdoor area behind the house before heading back in for an amazing meal.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I delve into the tasting menu and AMAZING on-property fruit and vegetable orchard!