Montalto Estate in Northern Ireland is perfect for 3 R’s

Montalto EstateRest, relaxation, and romance—be prepared to learn
more about these three R’s when visiting Montalto Estate in Northern Ireland. Nestled in the rolling countryside of County Down, 30 minutes from Belfast and less than two hours from Dublin Airport, Montalto is a privately owned estate that has been a family home for centuries. It has been renovated and made available as a place for the public to stay since 2009.

During a recent visit I was fortunate to meet David Wilson, the owner, who lived in the house about six years (from age 16 to 22), although his brother was four when the family moved in and lived there for 10 years. Trained as an accountant, Wilson has  been totally involved in renovating the house for public use. “It was fun living here, but it was just a house.  We mainly lived in the bedrooms and kitchen,” Wilson said. “We had a pool table, TV, and it was a great place for entertaining my friends.”Montalto Estate

Montalto offers guests the exclusive use of a 400-acre private Irish estate, down from the original 20,000 acres once included in the estate. It comes complete with personal butler, scrumptious food from renowned chefs, and hands-on hospitality from professional manager David Anderson. Yet it’s in a private, secluded location with purple rhododendrons lining the avenue to the home and formal gardens filled with blooming flowers and sculptures just outside the door.

Montalto EstateUpon arrival we’re offered tea and cookies before taking a tour of the home, which was turned into a public space two years ago. Nine bedrooms are available with a preference to rent all at once as a backdrop for events like reunions, weddings, or business gatherings. The whole house rents for $6000 per night which includes breakfast and a light lunch, with dinner extra.  Each bedroom is decorated as when the family lived there, with rooms showing the personalities of the children and functions for which the rooms were used. A general sense of romanticism pervades the restored home, which maintains a comfortable ambience amid elegant furnishings.

Our lunch was a sample of fine cuisine prepared for guests. Anderson had purchased fresh salmon at St. George’s Market in Belfast earlier
that morning, and side dishes included ever-present potatoes and peas. For the salad, we were served a blueberry vinegar made on premises and sold in jars to the public along with homemade marmalade and strawberry jam.Montalto Estate

Montalto is close to two world-renowned golf courses and historic attractions in Belfast including the Titanic Museum scheduled to open in spring of 2012. But chances are you won’t want to leave. It’s the perfect place for learning the three R’s.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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