Behind a 200-year-old exterior lies a strong and purposeful design that constantly delights. The wide estuary light floods in to Pier House, right on the harbour; enter through iron gates into the garden and follow the path. You will get a lovely Irish welcome. Behind stripped old doors – witnesses to the dockside bustle of Kinsale’s past – a contemporary marine theme plays: the hotel is decorated with driftwood sculptures, scatterings of seashells, stocks of reeds, paintings by an artist friend. Natural is the key word: wickerwork sofas, feather duvets and crisp white linen on polished sleigh beds, dark timber floors and white walls, taupe and olive textiles, slate-tiled bathrooms and nothing to shock or jolt. Pat, formerly a master carpenter, oversaw the building of the clever storage spaces for hiding clothes and television sets. Bedrooms are not big but beds are generous, there’s a private, plant-graced balcony for almost every room, one vast bath with a telly… a peaceful decked seating space, a pretty garden, and cheerful and knowledgeable local hosts. A wonderful find right at the heart of lovely Kinsale.