Georgina Campbell Guide 2006

The BrookLodge Hotel & Wells Spa

Spacious and welcoming, the hotel has elegant country house furnishings, open fires and plenty of places to sit quietly or meet for a sociable drink - and the accommodation choices are between the original rooms, which are furnished with quite traditional free standing furniture, and state-of-the-art mezzanine suites, which will please those who enjoy very modern high-tech surroundings.

A luxurious new spa centre, The Wells, features an indoor-to-outdoor swimming pool, gym, juice bar and a wide variety of exclusive beauty and health treatments. Midweek, weekend and low season special offers are good value.

The Strawberry Tree

This is an unusual room, with a mirrored ceiling - quite unlike the rest of the hotel - a little strange in the daytime (Sunday lunch is served here), but very romantic when candlelit at night. It is Ireland's only certified organic restaurant, reflecting the BrookLodge philosophy of sourcing only from producers using slow organic methods and harvesting in their correct season.

Menus are not too long or too fussy: dishes have strong, simple names and, except when underlined on the menu as wild, everything offered is organic. Typical dishes might include starters like home smoked beef, with figs and balsamic dressing or grilled wild pollock with roast red pepper, and main courses such as grilled lamb with confit carrots, wild cep and garlic cream, or a vegetarian dish of wild mushroom and brie tart with wild garlic pesto.

There's a great buzz associated with the commitment to organic production at BrookLodge, and it makes a natural venue for meetings of like-minded groups such as Euro-Toques and Slow Food, especially on market days. Dining at the Strawberry Tree is a unique experience - and good informal meals can be equally enjoyable at The Orchard Café and Acton's pub (both open noon-9pm daily). Given the quality of ingredients used and the standard of cooking, meals at BrookLodge represent very good value.