With holidays abroad being postponed for the time being, the staycation is having its moment. And if you're looking for the best hotel experience in Ireland, you just need to head to Kilkenny.
Five-star Mount Juliet Estate has been named AA Hotel of the Year 2020, which is often considered the most prestigious award in the Irish hospitality industry.
The stately manor is certainly jaw-dropping, set amidst rolling hills and meandering rivers. Built in the late 18th century, the house has been home to seven generations of earls.
In the early 20th century, the manor became world-famous for horse breeding. The Ballylinch Stud produced the most famous two-year-old colt in the 20th century, the Tetrarch.
This heritage is firmly at the centre of the stunning property, as guests are invited to explore the lush surroundings and soak up the history.
Food and drink are particularly opulent, with the Michelin-starred Lady Helen restaurant named for former owner and celebrated hostess Lady Helen McCalmont. Local produce is at the core of the menu, with ingredients pulled from their kitchen garden, herb garden and farm.
Meanwhile, the verdant gold course is world-famous, being designed by Jack Nicklaus, the celebrated American golfer.
"Mount Juliet Estate is not only one of Ireland's finest hotels, but is renowned the world over for the warm welcome and stunning experience it provides to both Irish holiday-goers and overseas tourists," said Conor Faughnan, AA Director of Consumer Affairs, as quoted in the Irish Examiner.
"This award comes at a time when hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs across the country are facing an enormous challenge, but we know that while much is changing in the world around us, Mount Juliet Estate will continue to be a jewel in the crown of the Irish hospitality sector.
"Winning our Hotel of the Year Award is no easy task, and is the result of years of hard work by GM Mark Dunne and his entire team. With each passing year, Mount Juliet Estate goes from strength-to-strength so not only are we proud to name the property our Hotel of the Year but we also look forward to see what the future holds."