It was very fortunate that my husband’s first visit to Ireland, many years ago, was a memorable few days at Hunter’s Hotel in Co Wicklow. The hotel has been run by the same family since 1825 and in those days the redoubtable Mrs Gelletlie was at the helm.
One always returns to an old haunt with trepidation .. will it have lost its magic?
However, as I park the car in the former coachyard , the old pump greets me.
The flagstoned hall remains the same, as does the charming bar and the dining room, its low windows affording a view of the lovely garden.
All is well, the essence of Hunter’s remains the same and modernising touches are discreet and welcome.
Of course, it’s the garden which I’m bursting to see …
The box-hedged enclosures direct one’s path through the garden to an old summerhouse by the rushing waters of the River Vartry.
We are not far from the lovely Mount Usher Gardens and Hunter’s Hotel is a great place to base oneself to visit it and the many other wonderful sights in Co Wicklow , the “Garden of Ireland”.
Indeed, after a day’s sight-seeing, nothing better than afternoon tea or a refreshing drink in Hunter’s garden.
There is a timeless quality to the garden, the pungent scent of the box hedging filling the air …. Queen Anne reputedly pulled up all the box hedges at Hampton Court Palace because of the smell …. but I love it and have from the very first time I set foot in this garden. Indeed, over the years whenever I planted Buxus or smelt it, my mind wandered back to my first stroll through Hunter’s garden.
Even the polite notice in the garden evokes an earlier age.
Yet the planting is anything but tired under the capable hands of the French gardener Claude.
And happily, there are many other scents and sights to enjoy.
There is an air of exploration as one follows the gravel paths through arches..
… and into the thriving kitchen garden, full of herbs and vegetables for the dining room.
The hotel has been described as “an extremely rare and remarkably intact example of an early eighteenth century coaching inn.” (An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of County Wicklow). Its origins date back to an old forge of 1650 which evolved into a coaching inn on the Dublin-Wexford road. Its success as a hotel lies in its timelessness, its air of tranquility and unassuming, unrushed service. Please go visit; I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
My hand pauses over the “Publish” button …. with over 25,000 views on this website, I wonder selfishly … if I publish, Will it still be possible for me to get a room/a table for lunch?
Oh well ………
(All photography mine; feel free to use any of Jardin’s images but please credit and link back.)
- Ireland’s Most Romantic Garden (jardindesign.org)
- Garden Visits – getting it right. (jardindesign.org)