Choosing a hotel in County Laois
County Laois, Ireland, leaves travelers spoiled for choice when it comes to hotels. There is something for everyone, whether you want to relax and enjoy Nature, prepare for a wedding or other major event, or have an Irish adventure filled with sightseeing and fun activities.
What are The Best Hotels in Laois?

Ballyfin Demesne - Ireland's best hotel. The Heritage Killenard - every minor detail stands out for its high quality. Portlaoise Heritage Hotel - good price, excellent facilities. The Killeshin - family-friendly hotel. Castle Durrow is an excellent accommodation. Maldron Hotel - good service, stylish yet simple decor. The O'Loughlins - small family-run establishment. Roundwood Country House - at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

Ballyfin Demesne

The Ballyfin Demesne is arguably Ireland's best hotel. The grand sweeping demesne is an adventure in itself, and you could spend the entire day exploring the grounds. One of the special packages even has a tour of the demesne in a horse and carriage included, with the groundskeeper on hand to tell you all about the flora and fauna you can see here. The hotel is an excellent wedding destination because of its romantic atmosphere and the manor is the perfect backdrop for an intimate gathering. You can book the entire hotel just for your guests.

Corporate events are also a smash hit at Ballyfin, with many appropriate rooms and garden spaces available. Apart from being extremely beautiful and an elegant piece of Irish history, the hotel is also very comfortable and the staff are always at your service.

The Heritage Killenard

The Heritage hotel brand has both a five-star hotel and a four-star hotel in the area. At the five-star Heritage Killenard, every minor detail stands out for its high quality. The hotel is decorated with Irish and international works of art, marble, cherry wood, and mahogany. Classical furniture lends a touch of sophistication to each room and the public spaces. A large ballroom is available for weddings and corporate events, and guests can enjoy a game of golf on the championship golf course. Families are welcomed with children of all ages. A playground is being planned to entertain younger guests, while the adults can relax in the world-class spa.

Portlaoise Heritage Hotel

The four-star Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, found in the center of Portlaoise Town, features large, elegant rooms and excellent conference facilities.

Apart from corporate events, weddings and civil ceremonies are also hosted in grand style here. A health and leisure club is on site for those who need to stay on top of their fitness regimen while traveling. The club includes a gym, swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room, and a day spa. There are also a range of special offers and packages available to suit all manner of needs.

The Killeshin

The Killeshin is a more affordable option than most. The hotel markets itself as a family-friendly venue due to the range of activities and services available for children.

For instance, the leisure centre, which has an 18m-long pool, also has a children's pool. The family rooms include a double bed and a single bed, and younger children can use roll out camp beds or cots, which must be requested in advance. If more space is needed, the hotel offers interconnecting rooms with a double bed in the master bedroom and two single beds in the kids' room. Roll out camp beds and cots are available in these set-ups as well. Special packages are available to suit a range of budgets, including room-only rates, rates that include breakfast, and family rates for the holidays. There are also plenty of activities for families in the neighborhood. Babysitting services can be requested.

The restaurants offer children's menus in addition to their regular menus, and high chairs are available. For handicapped guests, there are double rooms with wheelchair access on offer. Weddings and conferences can be easily arranged at the hotel's many excellent venues. There is also free parking and free WiFi for guests of the hotel. The health club offers Zest classes for those who want to stay fit during their travels.

Castle Durrow

Castle Durrow is an excellent accommodation. Rates start as low as 90 euros per night. Although you won't receive the same standard of service you might expect from Ballyfin, for instance, the surroundings are just as beautiful. Located an hour out of Dublin, it was built in 1716 as a family home. Any event held here, especially a wedding, is sure to be a success.

There's a beauty and hair salon on site, which is perfect for brides hosting a wedding here. Guests can take a guided tour of the gardens including the pleasure gardens and organic kitchen garden. River walks and exploring the woodlands are a typical favorite pastime for those who stay here. Award-winning chef Graham Gallagher creates excellent, reasonably priced meals in the hotel's restaurant. The rooms are quite exotic as well, where master rooms feature four-poster beds, deluxe rooms have sleigh beds, and oriental rooms have large deep beds.

Maldron Hotel

Maldron Hotel is another popular venue. As part of an Irish hotel chain, it features good service and stylish but simple decor. Families will especially enjoy their time here as there are plenty of activities to keep the kids occupied. There's an indoor pool, which is great fun for everyone.

The leisure club features a gym and therapy rooms as well as fitness classes. Conference planners may want to check it out as well, particularly for the delegate packages, but there are other hotels that tend to be better suited for romantic breaks, weddings, or a quiet weekend in the country. A range of rooms, including corporate rooms and family rooms, are available, making it the ideal venue for these two types of visitors.

The O'Loughlins Hotel

The O'Loughlins hotel on Main Street in Portlaoise is a small family-run establishment that is close to all the main attractions in town. Its 24 bedrooms were recently refurbished and come as singles, doubles, and twin rooms. All rooms have an en-suite, TV, tea and coffee making facilities, and a telephone.

The hotel features two bars, a restaurant, two spacious meeting rooms, secure parking, and a nightclub open on Thursdays and Saturdays. The main bar features several plasma screens for enjoying sports on TV. Head chef Paul Conroy serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the restaurant, where one can order anything from steak to jelly with ice cream. Safety is a top priority at the nightclub, and residents of the hotel receive free entry passes. The venue can also be used for private parties.

Special packages for the hotel are offered from time to time, including a Valentine's Day Special, with a double room for one night, a five-course Valentine's dinner for two, and breakfast. Golf packages include one night's stay, breakfast, dinner, and two rounds of golf at Portlaoise Golf Club and Dunmurray Springs Golf Club.

Roundwood Country House

Roundwood Country House is nestled at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. It offers a historic feel through its old architecture, large outbuildings, and sweeping gardens and lawns. Only an hour from Dublin, it promises open fires, great food and wine, and sincere hospitality. It is the ideal country getaway with a touch of history.

As a family home, it offers six large en-suite bedrooms in the Main House and four bedrooms in the Yellow House. The Yellow House was the original building, while the Main House was added later as an extension. Each of the quaint bedrooms has a fabulous view of the walled garden, lawns, or courtyards. A warm welcome from the resident animals meets guests at the entrance, and tea with homemade biscuits is offered on arrival. The country house features a library, drawing room, and study. Log fires and antique furniture add to the sense of stepping back in time, and there are no TVs found in any of the rooms.

Children are welcome, and those aged under 5 can stay for free. Children sharing a room with their parents receive reduced rates. Another interesting feature of the Roundwood is the Writer's Cottage, which accommodates two people. The secluded cottage is in a corner of the walled garden and is great for a romantic getaway or a place to write your next bestseller. Prices include electricity, linen, and towels. The fire will be set when the guests arrive, but they will need to purchase their own firewood to keep it going. The cottage is stocked with a variety of books and has no WiFi. For more books, Internet access, or breakfast and dinner, guests can visit the Main House.

Also on the grounds is an authentic 17th century stone building, called The Forge, which has been converted into a split level apartment. It has one double bed and one settee bed in the living room. It too contains books, paintings, and views of the garden. The woods around it are great for exploring or for children to play games.

Food at the hotel is simple and fresh, and the menus are fixed by the proprietor. For private dining, guests can book the study for up to 12 guests. Breakfast is served until 11 am. It includes fresh bread, muesli, yoghurt, fruit compote, and a full Irish breakfast.
Visiting County Laois' major landmarks

The Slieve Bloom Mountains link County Laois with County Offaly, running from southwest Roscrea to northwest Rosenallis. There are several walking trails on the mountains, ranging from easy to very challenging. From some of the trails, you can walk all the way to Glenbarrow waterfalls, a few miles away from Rosenallis. Red grouse can be found in large numbers on these hills. On a clear day, one can view the highest points of Ireland's four ancient provinces.

This awe-inspiring mountain range is not considered very high globally, but it is quite tall by local standards. Its highest point is Arderin at 527 meters, though the range was once Europe's tallest, towering 3,700 meters above the countryside. Weathering broke it down over time to its current height. These mountains, along with a range in France, remain the oldest in Europe.

If you want to stay in the area, this mountain range is easily accessible from Ballyfin Demesne, several hotels in Portlaoise, the Heritage Hotel, The Killeshin Hotel, and many others.

The Rock of Dunamase is essentially a rocky outcrop over a flat plain. It holds the ruins of Dunamase Castle, which was once a defensive structure dating back to the Hiberno-Norman era. Masc Fort, a Christian settlement built in the 9th century, was the first to arrive on the rock. It was abandoned after being pillaged by the Vikings, who killed the abbot of Terryglass there. Three centuries later, the castle was erected on the site. To enjoy the sights in this magical, historical area, you could pick any of the hotels in Portlaoise.

If you do decide to stay in Portlaoise, be sure to look in on Timahoe Village as well. Saint Mochua is said to have built the monastery here in the 7th century. In 919, a church was burned here, while a murder took place in the doorway of another church a century later. The church was burned down in 1142, but later rebuilt by the O'Mores. Following that, a monastic community existed here up to 1650. The church currently on the site includes a 15th-century chancel arch that once led to the altar but has now been blocked. The Round Tower in the center of the village was built in the 12th century, but its cap was rebuilt in the 19th century. Considered one of Ireland's finest towers, it is 30 meters tall and still mostly in its original condition. The deep doorway located high off the ground, facing the church doorway, features elaborate Romanesque decorations. With four rows of decoration, two before and after a narrow vaulted space, it is a unique sight. Human heads with intertwined hair decorate the tops of the doorway's pillars.

Emo Court, found near Emo Village, was designed in 1790 by James Gandon, the famous architect, for the first earl of Portarlington. It is a neoclassical mansion featuring spacious, symmetrical rooms. As Gandon was working on many projects simultaneously, construction on the mansion spanned many years, and unfortunately, the earl who commissioned it died without ever seeing it finished. His successor employed new architects to finish the building, but he too died while it was still under construction. He did have a chance to live in the finished sections of the building though. The third earl to take over the building managed to complete it within his lifetime. In 1860, it looked very much like it does today.

Although Gandon's influence can be seen in its basic structure, the building is ultimately the result of the efforts of a number of architects. Wars and rebellions continued to plague the area though, so the house was ultimately abandoned and the land mostly distributed to local farmers. The Jesuits acquired the property in 1930. One of them was the famous Father Francis Browne, who photographed the Irish people and landscapes. While the Jesuits made some major changes to the interiors to make way for a chapel and assembly room, they did save the house from the fate of disrepair that so many others like it from the era have suffered.

If you'd like to live near the site, you should book a room at The Gandon Inn, which allows easy access to the mansion.

The major landmark hotels in the area are Castle Durrow and Ballyfin Demesne. However, Ballyfin, as a private residence, does not enable you to wander over to the property.