If you want to stay in an Irish hotel with a playful and impactful sense of identity, cocktails that hit (and terraces for supper), staff that seem to enjoy their jobs, and plans for cabin-style “nests” in trees to sleep, your search is over.
This hotel is The Montenotte in Cork. Oh, and there’s also a sleek private cinema, stunning artwork, a decent 20m pool, city views, and a focus that I think could give it a five-star rating.
Phew. In an age of inflation, when staff are harder to come by than toilets at the start of lockdown, it’s fun to see a hotel carrying on, delighted with its mission and clearly funded by visionary owners (and nerves of steel).
During the pandemic, The Montenotte has splashed out a €1m terrace bar and Victorian garden upgrades. Next up is a €10 million ‘woodland experience’, with the first of 23 treehouse-like ‘octagonal nests’ and ‘cantilever units’ set to open in 2023. Perched up 25 feet into the tree-lined landscape with Scandi style, balconies, dedicated residents lounge and concept restaurant, it looks like an Instagram shoo-in.
But let’s not rush. I arrived a few weeks ago; not in the future. For now, the hotel remains a four star, and I have experienced a few upheavals along with the sense of Montenotte’s exciting momentum.
Arrival & location
Within two years, this escape from Cork aims to be “Ireland’s first urban seaside resort”. Frankie and Josephine Whelehan, who also own The Wilder in Dublin, have invested in a guest experience that is evident when staff unload our bags and a new guest relations manager escorts us to our rooms. How a hotel makes you feel is important, and it starts at the front door.
Reception staff are under pressure in Ireland, but they don’t show it here. Elegantly dressed in navy suits and fitted dresses, or tweed waistcoats over white shirts, they make eye contact, and many remember our names. As I’m working on the laptop one morning, a waiter offers coffee, water, and a tip to walk to Marina Market (“it’s a nice circle”). Well judged, adding a little something to my stay.
The front door, by the way, is up a steep hill on the Middle Glanmire Road. This gives stunning views of the River Lee, but also a jaw-dropping schlep after the action. Best to enjoy an easy 15 minute walk to town and book a taxi back (€9-€12). 8.5/10
Service & styling
It may be built around the 19th century home of a butter merchant, but the Montenotte’s eclectic art collection is pure contemporary eye candy – from the large pixelated square room on its facade to ‘Douglas’, the paint-splattered ceramic bulldog in the lobby, garden sculptures, and three-dimensional paper works by Miriam Fitzgerald Juskova (the hotel’s current artist-in-residence).
When its lavish luxury, playfulness and Art Deco-inspired spaces click, I see a mix of designer hotels like The Dylan and touches of trusty Doyle Collection (Gilpin and Chewton Glen in the UK are also a source of inspiration). inspiration for the future resort atmosphere, I’m told). But the lobby is a bit cluttered, the swimming pool and its changing rooms will need to be redone, and occasional spaces may seem lost, such as the bar area of the cinema, or an unused terrace under the main one.
But above all, the place is buzzing, and the new Glasshouse Bar, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, loud leafy wallpaper and list of “botanical cocktails” (mine is a Beara Ocean gin with Poacher’s and pink grapefruit for €11) is a splashy OTT haunt in the best possible way. For a quieter vibe, try the small spa or the 50-seat Cameo cinema. 9/10
The choice of room will make a difference in your impression of this hotel. Boutique or executive room and suite sizes are appropriate for an urban four-star, but may seem small in a future five-star, while 26 apartments offer additional family or corporate options, but with slightly open-air spaces. off-putting. halls and a lower level of decor. I also felt there were too many mini toiletries and plastic toiletries for this era. That said, room designs are sharp, with wall decals, gold and navy trim on curtains and throws, and pops of color like the yellow Pantone mug from our Nespresso machine. Junior suites (pictured above) are worth it. 7.5/10
The Panorama Bistro & Terrace is the center of the hotel — a lively, glamorous setting with a long marble bar, a mix of mosaic and parquet floors, booth banquettes, and, of course, those stylish city views. It gets quite noisy later, when the voices rise with the piano, but I really like the cosmopolitan vibe.
During our visit, the food was a bit in between, with new menus in development and dishes like a lovely tender croup of lamb (€29.95) and a starter of velvety tuna tartare (€13.95) slightly disappointed with awkward presentation and inconsistent vegetables. . Surprisingly, sorbets and fruit were the only gluten-free desserts offered, although the managers were eager to hear feedback, and they now have four choices that are gluten-free, or can be adapted as such, including a panna cotta and a Montenotte gin. and dark chocolate mousse.
It’s a good sign. 6.5/10
The bottom line
Le Montenotte aspires to be a must-stay and upscale urban resort. Marketing is nothing without a caring soul and staff, of course, and having them in place makes me excited for the journey ahead (whatever about five stars it already surpasses some four). Cork’s hotel scene is booming, with classics like The Imperial and River Lee being upgraded alongside newcomers like The Dean and The Address. This could be a future pack leader.
The warehouse-style Marina Market hosts some 40 food and retail vendors from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Start with fresh cut fries loaded with Prátaí toppings. marinamarket.fr
For a breath of fresh air in the days of the Celtic tiger, a ‘High Life Escape’ package at Le Montenotte offers two-night stays with champagne, dinner and a helicopter flight from €600 per person.
Bed and breakfast with dinner from €295 for two this summer. Pól was a hotel guest. themontenotte.com