Hitting the Hay in Cork
Arriving into Cork from Waterford, I wasn’t prepared for what awaited me. I’m not sure what I thought Cork would be like, but it was certainly larger and more modern, at least on the outskirts, than I expected. Along the highway, I could have been in the United States. All that changed when I exited and tried to find Hayfield Manor without a working GPS.
With some crude, sketched-out directions, Karlin and I knew the hotel was near University College Cork. So, as one does in Ireland, we drove around until we found where Perrott Avenue and College Road intersected. Backtracking and maneuvering through the narrow streets of Cork, we eventually found our destination. Down a short driveway was a magnificent manor. With ivy growing along the brick and beautifully-landscaped grounds, the Hayfield Manor was exactly how I imagined it to be.
Weary from our day, Karlin and I were greeted by smiles all around. Our car and luggage were taken, and we were escorted right in. Easter was only a few days away, so tables were decorated with eggs, bunnies, and plenty of flowers, especially lilies. The smell was simply divine. Seamus, Hayfield’s Assistant Manager, chatted with us regarding our stay in Ireland as well as our plans for the days ahead. For dinner, we were invited to one of their in-house restaurants, Perrotts Garden Bistro. Not wanting to leave our fabulous surroundings, it sounded perfect.
Karlin and I gladly took our keys and were escorted to our rooms. That’s right, plural. After shacking up for several nights already, this was an unexpected, but welcomed treat. As I walked through the door of 207, I saw a long hallway and at the end was a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the courtyard. I couldn’t even see the rest of the room, but I loved it already.
I quickly glanced in the large bathroom to my left, but bounded down the hallway like a little kid. To say my room was huge would be an understatement. A king-sized bed filled one side, while antique tables, chairs, armoires, and dressers filled the rest. As an antique collector, I was in heaven.
Sheers on the wall of windows let in just enough of the late afternoon light. I pulled them open to get a better look at my view. The garden below looked like the perfect spot to read and drink my morning coffee. Being that it was the start of spring, I imagined a few more weeks and the entire space would be awash with color.
Finally taking a moment to relax, I kicked my boots off and settled into one of the comfy, quilted chairs. As I scanned the room, I noticed a golf ball and putter. Of course! That should be standard in any hotel. A small antipasti plate with some chocolates made eyes at me. I certainly couldn’t resist its charm. That would be rude, after all.
There was no rest for the weary. After a quick shower, I met Karlin downstairs for dinner. We’d yet to have a bad meal in Ireland, and didn’t anticipate it starting that night.
Perrotts was in direct contrast to the traditional decor of the rest of the hotel. Dark woods and traditional touches were replaced with a more contemporary vibe. Sconces, candlelight, and floor lamps filled the dining room with soft, warm light. No sooner than Karlin and I were seated, Michelle, the restaurant’s manager, delivered two glasses of sparkling wine topped with brilliant, red strawberries.
Our beautiful and sweet waitress, Albihe, was knowledgeable about the menu and Cork. She’d grown up there and sang of its virtues. Dinner for me consisted of lobster bisque, lamb shank on a bed of mashed potatoes, crème brûlée, and coffee. Each bite was better than the next, and a New Zealand pinot noir was the perfect addition to my meal.
After a leisurely, two-hour dinner, Karlin and I were both exhausted. We were not even half way through our Ireland adventure and had many more miles to go. After saying our goodnights, I retreated to my sprawling room. The enormous, fluffy bed beckoned me to it, and who was I to refuse? With pajamas on, remote in hand, and Wi-Fi connected, I settled into my kingdom for the night.
Sadly, Karlin and I didn’t allot enough time in Cork. We didn’t see the English Market or explore the town, except for the wrong turns we took trying to find the Hayfield Manor. The Dingle Peninsula was waiting, but neither of us even set an alarm clock. The hospitality and warmth made me not want to leave; it felt much like home. This homey feeling extended to the cooked breakfast and buffet that awaited us downstairs. After all, a gracious host would never consider sending guests on their way without a proper breakfast.
After a filling start to the morning, I somehow managed to cram all the junk back into my silver suitcase. As my days in Ireland passed, the tougher this became. Our Renault rental was waiting for us in front; at least it was ready to go. Karlin and I said our goodbyes to the wonderful staff. Then with detailed directions (thank you, Hayfield!), we headed back down the same short drive we’d come up less than 24 hours before. Karlin and I were on the road again, west-bound for Dingle.
Disclosure: While in Cork, I was the invited guest of the Hayfield Manor. I was not prompted to write a favorable review. These are my impressions of the stay, and my opinion was not swayed by the cloud-like bed, putter in my room, or the delectable crème brûlée. Thank you to Ginger at Time Travel Tours for introducing me to the fine folks at Hayfield Manor.