Dine in Victorian Elegance
The Garden Room Restaurant
Stay in Opulent Luxury at Great Southern Killarney
Great Southern Killarney Equals Luxury in Every Sense
Spa and Leisure Facilities at Great Southern Killarney
Relax, Refresh and Revitalise at the Great Southern Killarney's Health Club
When our inspector visited the Great Southern Killarney, his report featured descriptions like ‘opulent décor’, ‘stunning cornices and plasterwork’, ‘stylish furnishings’, and ‘grand piano’. They were his only first impressions when he walked in through the famous front door. As he began to be introduced to the pleasures of the Great Southern Killarney, his first impressions became definite conclusions. In plain words, his comments say, "The Great Southern Killarney equals luxury - in every sense. From the efficient concierge service you get when you arrive, to the warm farewell when it’s time to leave, your stay here is marked with golden moments of typical Irish hospitality married with professionalism throughout."
The imposing building that is now the Great Southern Killarney was once a Great Southern Hotel, very much part of the early railway era of Ireland. This is the ‘Grand Old Lady’ of Killarney, a part of this busy tourist town in Kerry since 1854, when the first railway line from Killarney to Dublin was established. The Great Southern and Western Railway Company decided it needed to build a ‘Grand Hotel’ outside Ireland’s capital. Land was required, forty acres to be exact, which would be situated at the railhead and would house a station and hotel – and they wanted it for free. The earmarked site was part of several thousand acres of land owned by Lord Kenmare. However, this particular piece of land was special to the Irish landlord for its magnificent garden which he had designed and tended for years. But Lord Kenmare could see the benefit of having a railway close by, so he struck a bargain. In exchange for the land, he asked that his family be given free rail travel whenever they wished. And should they ever be late to the station, the train would wait for them. The deal was done and The Railway Hotel was designed by Frederick Darley, official architect to Trinity College Dublin.
Great Southern Killarney has changed hands and décor throughout the intervening years. But its lost none of its original magnificence. Today the ‘Grand Old Lady’ is owned by the Scally family, longstanding hoteliers who also own Hayfield Manor in Cork city and are no strangers to providing luxury accommodation and impeccable service over many decades.
When you check in here, your bags will be taken to your room. You can decide to follow by taking the lift, or make an entrance up the palatial staircase to your private quarters. Great Southern Killarney has a range of rooms, from Classic through to Family rooms, Deluxe and Junior Suites, plus two full suites. The Ambassador Suite and the Kennedy Suite go all out to the very top of the tree in accommodation terms. Classic rooms are spacious with views out over the gardens. Deluxe rooms have a desk area for working visits and an extra spacious wardrobe perfect for golf bags and equipment. At this level, you can choose between having a separate bathroom or three beds. Junior Suites have a separate dressing area, large sitting room area with sofa and soft chairs, bathrobes and slippers, large king beds, big bathtub and separate shower. The Ambassador Suite is situated in a prime corner of this old building and has original Victorian windows letting in lots of light. You’ll enjoy a complete home from home package here with one luxury bedroom, bathroom and separate drawing room where you can relax with in-room refreshments or welcome guests. The Kennedy Suite comes with the option of one or two bedrooms and separate full sitting room. This suite has a real feel of complete self containment, entered by double doors into a private exterior foyer. As the name would suggest, the Kennedy is linked very much to the American presidential family. Jackie Onassis visited the hotel with her children in the 1960’s and a poem was penned for her visit by the hotel’s then Head Waiter. American Tragedy was written in memory of JFK and his brother Robert Kennedy, both assassinated. Today, an original copy hangs on the wall outside the suite, together with a card from Mrs Kennedy and appreciation note from Edward Kennedy. So when you choose to stay in The Kennedy, you’re stepping right back in history on so many levels.
Public facilities at Great Southern Killarney include the cosy Brownes Bar, named after the Browne family or Lord Kenmare's, who originally in 1853 supplied the land on which the Great Southern Killarney was built. Just the type of place you want to be settling down, with your tipple of choice either before or after dinner. Gin is a thing here, with a newly developed range of primarily Irish gins with some favourites from abroad. You’ll also be impressed by the whiskeys – Irish and international in the collection.
Moving on to the food, which is what we are all about at Good Food Ireland, Executive Chef Rory Gabriel has it more than covered. Fine dining with local produce is on offer at the Garden Restaurant. A casual bar menu is served in Brownes Bar. Afternoon Tea is taken in the Grand Foyer or one of the private lounges. For private dining and special occasions The Middle Lake Room makes a perfect venue. Kids get their own menu, created by Executive Chef Rory Gabriel. Lots of healthy options and they won’t be disappointed! The Killarney Wine Rooms at the hotel have won multiple awards for the superb wine selection and casual menu, open in the evenings for adult dining. Read about the Great Southern Killarney's different dining experiences in more detail in our separate reviews.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, you’ll enjoy a fine breakfast to set you up for the day. First you’ll browse the buffet of fresh fruits, yogurt, house pastries and homemade breads, which you can munch on while you read the papers and wait for your cooked to order breakfast to be brought to the table. Dig into a satisfying Full Kerry Breakfast, Half Kerry Breakfast or lighter options like Poached Eggs Great Southern Style – two gorgeous eggs served on a muffin with pancetta and relish. When you’ve had your fill, you can stroll it off in town or visit the Killarney National Park for some absolutely breathtaking walking, in mind blowing scenery. Great Southern Killarney has a superb location, close to shops and galleries, within short distance of the natural heritage of the National Park and conveniently placed to explore the wider area of the Ring of Kerry.