My sister is getting married. I *may* have mentioned that once or twice here. A couple of weeks ago we held her hen party and I subsequently wrote about what I’ve learned on hosting a hen party. Since all but one of the hen guests are mothers of small children, we decided to go for a relaxing weekend escape in the countryside rather than a booze-fuelled, bar-hopping city break. My fellow bridesmaid, who also happens to be an Airbnb hostess herself, found us a magnificent location for our hen weekend. Lionsden is a Georgian country house just outside the village of Longwood in County Meath, Ireland. The name Longwood always reminds me of Longbourne in Pride & Prejudice and spending time in Lionsden house felt like being transported back couple of hundred years.
Set deep in the countryside, down a tree-lined avenue off a winding country road, the house is ideal for anyone seeking peace and quiet. There isn’t a sound to be heard except for the birds*. The weekend we spend there was quite wet, but with the right footwear or better weather, the parkland surrounding the house provides a lovely area to ramble in. My children would have loved this space to run about and, being so far in from the road, they would have been able to explore without me having to worry about traffic.
As a party of eight we had tons of space in the house. It sleeps 18! Working that out took us a few attempts. The upstairs is a warren of bedrooms and bathrooms. One of them remained unnoticed by me till the last morning.
I could well imagine a holiday here with friends and their families. Most of the rooms sleep three people and a couple sleep four or even five. The children’s dorm – where I slept, surrounded by bookselves of children’s book, boxes of toys and an adorable rocking horse – has two sets of bunks, one with a double bed as the bottom bunk. The en suite bathroom also led to another bedroom which opened onto the landing and a fabulous staircase. Descending it and looking over at the chandelier before you, you feel rather underdressed in jeans and a top. It is more ballgown material.
Parts of the house are beautifully finished. Others are a work in progress, like the hall of the old part of the house where the bare floorboards are covered by overlapping Persian-style rugs. That look continues in the drawing room / dining room. Antique sideboards filled with crystal decanters and a long, polished dining table are the main feature at the far end of the room while at the front of the room comfy sofas and armchairs surround a coffee table in front of a wood-burning stove. The mantlepiece is gone and where possibly a large mirror would have hung is a large expanse of wall. This suited us perfectly because we had brought along a laptop and projector. The blank wall became our cinema screen.
The overall feel of the old part of Lionsden is one of faded glory, surrounded as you are by floorboards, fan lights and chandeliers. Sitting in the drawingroom in the evening with the lights dimmed, candles lit, the fire blazing, the rain pelting down outside and a glass of Champagne in hand, it was pure luxury. Peace and quiet, comfort and cosiness. The ambience of an old country house combined with modern bathrooms and a large, well-equipped kitchen.
A highlight for me was the working Aga in the kitchen. Although there was an electric kettle, I opted to use the stovetop one and had it boiling away for a couple of pots of coffee on one side of the Aga as I knocked up a batch of dropscones on the other half. The whistel of the kettle gave me such a thrill.
We ate breakfast in the kitchen where the long table provided enough space for the eight of us. With two fridges, a gas hob, electric cooker, microwave, kettle and Aga, the kitchen is well set up for large groups. Next to the kitchen is a kind of overflow room – a playroom/den with a tv, seating, toys and colouring things for children – perfect for the children to retreat to and leave the adults to enjoy their meal and chat.
The three bathrooms are beautifully decorated and each is equipped with a shower. One has a bath too. The downstairs bathroom (pictured above) was my particular favourite. Those tiles are gorgeous, aren’t they? The double-doored closet houses a washer and dryer. Being on a girlie weekend away from our families, we didn’t go near them needless to say. If we had had children along with us I am sure there would have been a wash or two put on.
All in all we had a fabulous weekend at Lionsden and I can see myself going back. The boys have fallen in love with the place from the outdoor photos alone. There may also have been mention of wanting to slide down the bannister.
[Disclaimer: This is not an ad. I was not asked to review Lionsden. We paid €830 for a two night stay for the whole house. For rates and more information, you can look up Lionsden Georgian country house on Air bnb.]
*There is a security camera above the back door overlooking the parking area. We somehow inadvertently managed to change the settings and every time someone walked past the sensor outside a loud voice announced “Warning! You are being recorded by security camera”. But apart from that, there was only birdsong to be heard.