In 1832 when Adare Manor in rural County Limerick in the west of Ireland was built, lighting was often by candles, air-conditioning meant opening the windows and 39,000 acres of land buffered the grand house, called a “Calendar House” for its 52 chimneys and 365 leaded-glass windows.
Sold by its heirs in the early 1980s, Adare Manor reopened in 1988 as a country house hotel with the kind of architectural frippery in sculptural embellishments and coffered ceilings that make an audience of guests.
Such historic hotels, often made of carved stone and wood, still make an opulent first impression. But to attract travelers reliant on Wi-Fi and accustomed to easily accessible USB plugs beside the beds, older hotels often must adapt to survive, which accounts for a spate of recent and upcoming revivals in Europe and North America, including Adare Manor, set to preserve those handsome old bones while updating their marrow.
“Between architecture and location, historic hotels have advantages,” said Bjorn Hanson, a clinical professor at New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. “For travelers looking to experience something genuine and cultural, these are the ultimate response to those trends.”
Closed since January 2016, Adare Manor will reopen in November after an expansion to add a 42-room wing to the estate, bringing the number of rooms to 104.
The castle-like hotel will also get a new La Mer spa, two new restaurants, a 27-seat cinema and an 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio (rooms from 325 euros, or about $388, including breakfast).
The classic natural appeal of the estate, long ago downsized to 840 acres including walled gardens, walking trails and falcon training, will remain untouched.
Even when they are purpose-built as hotels, classic versions often contain excessive dining venues (for example, the breakfast room).
Elements that were luxuries back in the day, such as elevators, may be outdated.