As the European hub for major U.S. tech companies—Google, Meta and Amazon among them—Dublin is a go-to business travel destination. Hotels that cater to this working set are in no short supply, but Carton House, A Fairmont Managed Hotel, allows guests an outstanding opportunity to indulge in leisure before, after or during their work trip. Located outside of the city on 1,100 acres of scenic parkland, the resort dates to the 18th century when the Earl of Kildare, Robert FitzGerald, commissioned the acclaimed architect Richard Cassels to build the manor house.
It opened as an independent hotel in 2006, and Fairmont took over management in 2020, just prior to the pandemic. Based on my recent stay and numerous visits to Ireland, where I’ve been fortunate to experience many high-end resorts, I am confident when I say that Carton House is one of the country’s premier luxury properties and that it can accommodate and please every type and age of traveler.
The warm, unfussy but still polished service enveloped me even before my stay when house manager Ian Finnan called to ask me about my allergies, preferences and requests. What kind of pillows did I want on my bed? Extra-firm, firm, medium or soft? Am I a still-water person or do I like sparkling? Would I like a fan in my room or children’s amenities for my ten-year-old daughter, who was my traveling companion? This kind of doting was a constant throughout my stay as Finnan and the rest of the staff went out of their way to meet our every need, from cooking me a special-order Dover sole for dinner, which was absolutely divine, to packing a bag of house-made snacks for my long walk around the sprawling grounds on the marked trails.
The 169 guest rooms at Carton House are divided into two buildings. The Garden Wing accommodations are modern, spacious and bright, decorated in a classic Fairmont aesthetic of contemporary comfort.
I stayed in a suite in the original manor house, which has just 18 rooms. I felt like royalty surrounded by antique furnishings, silk fabrics and a four-poster bed. My bathroom was huge with a soaking tub as the centerpiece. It was an ideal retreat. During my stay, I indulged in an excellent jetlag-busting massage at the spa, a haven situated in an 18th-century mill with a top-of-the-line gym, swimming pool and long list of treatments. I also imbibed pre- and post-dinner drinks in the buzzy lobby bar, where both guests and locals gather to sip cocktails, rare whiskies, small-batch gins and wines. Between the three restaurants—the more casual Kathleen’s Kitchen and The Carriage House and the fine-dining Morrison Room—I was incredibly well fed.
Dismiss any notions you have about Irish food being lackluster and bland. The country’s cuisine has transformed for the better in recent years, and Carton House is a reflection of that. Produce is grown on-site or locally sourced, the meat from grass-fed cows and lamb from family-run farms. The pristine seafood—haddock, cod, scallops, Dover sole and more—is caught daily. Carton House features many other amenities, including two golf courses. The Montgomerie Links, a challenging inland course set around lakes, has hosted the Irish Open on three occasions.
Guests can also enjoy activities such as biking, boating, horseback riding, archery, falconry and tennis. Pickleball, cooking classes and exploring local villages are other highlights.
If work is in the cards, Carton House, in true Fairmont style, has a conference center that accommodates 500, a business center, and just about every amenity a business traveler could want. Let’s just say that I’m looking forward to checking in again.