There are 600 acres of land surrounding this remote but very stately home in St Laois. Parked by its lake are bikes and golf buggies but the best way to look around is by pony and trap. The driver, Lionel, points out the estate’s parish church, various follies, such as the viewing tower built to create jobs during the potato famine, the grottos and hidden gardens.
In the heart of the New Forest, all picture-postcard villages, thatched cottages and wild ponies, stands Elmers Court. Its Scottish heritage is seen in the décor - baronial-style wood panelling, tartan carpets and hangings.
I had just turned into the side street from Dublin’s famous Grafton Street to the Westbury when I saw it. I instantly recognised the life size statue of Dublin-bred Phil Lynott. I was still humming “The Boys are Back in town” when I got to the reception desk on the first floor. “A fan of Thin Lizzy are you?” asked Eddie, the concierge in a charming Irish lilt.
There was no snooze button when the howler monkeys began their early morning howl. It was an unrelenting crack-of-dawn wake-up call. But in any case the light was already filtering in through the screens and mosquito netting that are the cabana walls. That’s how it goes in the jungle.
The cabanas are simple, with a ceiling fan, surprisingly comfy beds and an ensuite shower.
What you really want when you get to the Georgian architectural extravaganza that is Bath, is a hotel that really lets you live the dream. The Francis is one of just a handful in this elegant town which lives up to the promise, but has been rather delightfully reinterpreted with a touch of je ne sais quoi by the French.