With its incomparable heritage gardens and long history, Kilmokea is hard to fault. Mark and Emma could not be nicer: gracious, welcoming and so very helpful, they somehow find time to bring up three young children and run a café and craft shop here as well. Bedrooms in the main house are in relaxed good taste: thick carpets, lovely beds, smart antiques, delicate fabrics to match their floral names. Two in the converted courtyard suite are simpler but just as inviting. In the evening guests meet over a drink and your hosts make sure everyone is introduced before sitting down in the formal Regency dining room. Many ingredients come from the organic walled kitchen garden, eggs from hens that graze the pretty apple orchard: integral parts of Kilmokea’s chemical-free botanical treat. Breakfast is deliciously fresh and unusual, too. The gardens cover seven acres, peacocks strut by the Italian loggia, paths and bridges lead past a trout lake to a hide where you can watch coastal birds swoop over the estuary; there’s even a dragon carved from a storm-felled tree. Plus the heated pool, gym, jacuzzi, sauna. Like staying in a well-loved hotel owned by friends – quite remarkable.