Tempted by Temple House

Temple House is neither a hotel nor a B&B and is all the better for it. Instead, it attempts (and achieves) a much nobler aim – to make you a valued guest at a wonderfully convivial house party given in the grand Irish country manor tradition. Much of the very special atmosphere comes from hosts Roderick and Helena Perceval, who live at Temple House with their two children and three dogs. Excepting a short break in the 19th century, the house has been in Perceval family since 1665 and it’s delightful to see the tradition carried on.

Dinner is at the centre of the experience and guests gather in the morning room around 7pm for pre-dinner drinks as Roderick makes the introductions. Then around 7.30pm everyone is seated in the beautiful dining room and shares a meal together in a true dinner party fashion around the vast mahogany table. The crowd around the table is almost always very cosmopolitan with interesting tales to tell – on my night nationalities represented around the table were Irish, South African, American, French, Japanese, Dutch and German. As we ate a delicious spinach soufflé, perfectly cooked salmon, a chocolate mousse and sampled the Irish cheeseboard, everyone swapped stories and compared notes just as you would at a particularly good dinner party. Afterwards everyone repairs to the morning room for continued conversation and another go at the honesty bar.

There’s lots to do while staying here, not least of all walks around grounds – there’s a lake plus 400 acres of grassland grazing around 1500 sheep plus 600 acres of woodland and bog. Wellies are provided so you don’t have to worry about the mud or sheep pellets when strolling around. You can also have a row on the lake and the waters are great for coarse fishing. Just down the road is Eagles Flying, – Ireland’s biggest sanctuary for birds of prey, offering majestic views of raptors soaring over the landscape. Traditional music in Sligo Town, plus Benbulben and all the sights associated with Yeats Country are just down the road, as are magnificent beaches like Dunmoran Strand.

Guests, many of whom by now are new friends, gather again round the table for breakfast. The rhubarb granola yoghurt is clearly a favourite and I particularly loved the bacon in the full Irish breakfast, all of which is locally sourced.

Several of the guests were repeat visitors and I can see why as the atmosphere created here is truly unique. Staying a Temple House could be a very healthy addiction – I’m already looking forward to a return visit.

Open April to November (with shooting parties November to January). Also available as an exclusive stay and wedding venue.

Ryan Eiland, Editor, Best Loved Hotels.