KILKENNY is fast becoming one of my favourite cities in Ireland, which is saying a lot coming from someone who was born and raised in Dublin.
But over the past few years I’ve found myself wandering around the Marble City on more than a few occasions, and I’m discovering something new on every visit.
It’s a city that has consistently been considered a trendy tourist hub, with historical features to be found every few yards, enough eateries to entertain a foodie fiend for a fortnight and activity trails for lovers of the outdoors, not to mention the city being a creativity and craft hub – a culture vulture’s delight.
Even its nightlife has become synonymous for a memorable hen or stag weekend away.
Whatever your interest might be, chances are Kilkenny will cater for it.
The Pembroke Hotel on Patrick Street is classy and contemporary and right smack bang in the centre of town, making it the ideal spot to set up camp for the weekend.
It’s Kilkenny’s only four-star boutique hotel and is just a two-minute walk from the busy streets, bars and the medieval Kilkenny Castle.
The hotel manages to capture the charm of the city itself; the ideal mixture of old fashioned city chic and contemporary taste.
This theme runs right through the hotel to the bedrooms, bar and restaurant.
The rooms which are decorated with dark woods and bright colour blocks are cosy and comfortable, and if you’re lucky you might land a room with a castle view.
Parking and WiFi are both complimentary at the hotel, meaning you can easily explore the city on foot for the weekend.
If your plans include a spot of shopping, Kilkenny’s full of spending opportunities.
Independent retailers, chic boutiques and of course, the high street shopping favourites, are located on both the city’s main and side streets with High Street being one of the main shopping districts.
Only across the road from the hotel is the trendy vintage store Shutterbug – I couldn’t resist a little mooch around – which was convenient for a pitstop back at the Pembroke for dropping bags.
Dinner in the Pembroke Hotel’s Stathams Restaurant was really enjoyable, preluded by the obligatory glass of pinot grigio in the hotel’s cosy bar.
The bar has a full wine list and its own cocktail menu, and has plenty of cosy alcoves to sit back and enjoy a drink, or two.
Never one to miss an opportunity to indulge in good food, I thoroughly enjoyed a goat’s cheese bruschetta dish for starters, with vine tomatoes and carmelised red onion marmalade.
While my partner delved into a delicious sirloin steak for main course, I opted instead for the roast vegetable mille feuille.
It was something I had never tried before and the tasty French pastry dish came with a creamy brie cheese and roast beetroot coulis. It’s always a satisfying feeling when you know you’ve made good food choices!
The next morning, a stroll through the lively city centre was a must.
The rain eased off just in time for us to walk through the grounds of the 12th century Kilkenny Castle (if you’ve time, take a daily tour of the castle) before stopping for lunch at one of Ireland’s oldest inns, Kyteler’s.
Before you leave, stop for a coffee at Cafe Mocha on High Street.
While the coffee shop’s narrow entrance is easy to miss, it’s a cafe full of charm and character with a ribbon boutique and china tea cup shop inside!
City breaks at the Pembroke Hotel start from just €99 per night.
For further details or to book, visit www.pembrokekilkenny.com or call 056 7783500.
For more information on things to do and see in Kilkenny, see www.visitkilkenny.ie.