Charm and grace oozes out of every pore of this exquisite 18thC former archbishop's palace in the historic market town of Cashel, with its famous and dramatic Rock, one of Ireland's most visited sites. The story is that the Devil, in a hurry to fly on his way, bit a chunk out of the Slieve Bloom Mountains and dropped it here. From right outside the hotel drawing room you may follow the Bishop's Walk, which leads you through the delightful garden and a grassy meadow to the Rock and its cluster of grey ruins. In the garden are two mulberry trees planted in 1702 for the coronation of Queen Anne, and the descendents of the original hops planted by one of the Guinness family in the mid-18thC (there's plenty of the black, velvety stuff in the Guinness Bar, with flagged cellar floor and terracotta walls).
  We don't have enough room to sing all the praises of this jewel in the heart of racing country that used to be owned by trainer Vincent O'Brien; breakfast is served in the pine-panelled room named after him. There are four-poster beds, fine antiques and pictures, and spacious bathrooms - with towelling gowns - and a magnificent early-Georgian red pine staircase in the entrance hall with barley-sugar banisters. You have the choice of two restaurants and there are ten new bedrooms in the old mews and stables. Book early.