Holiday SOS: 25 escapes before winter sets in

Tired after the summer so-called holidays? Here are 25 autumn escapes to get you going



Indulgent hotels

Capture a castle in Mayo
Ashford Castle is synonymous with luxury and now that new owners, the Tollman family, have spent €75 million restoring it, it’s even more deluxe – with its own cinema to boot. Have a brief encounter with how the other half holiday, with October B&B rates, including dinner in its George V restaurant, from €365 per room.

Fall for Sheen Falls
To celebrate its newly refurbished Falls restaurant, Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare is offering autumn visitors a Falls Gourmet Experience, the perfect antidote to the burgers you’ve been cooking all summer. The package includes two nights B&B, dinner on one of the evenings and a glass of prosecco, from €567 in total. Or avail of the three-nights for the price of two deal, available until 29th October, from €680.

Lost in space
Sometimes it’s hard to lose yourself on a short break, but with 1,300 acres to wander, if you can do it anywhere, it’s at stately Farnham Estate in Cavan. Wander seven kilometres of walking trails, play a round of golf, plus dinner in its Botanica Restaurant, from €139.50 pps sharing midweek.

Europe in Kerry
You might not be able to live on a view but you can certainly revive yourself with one and none better than at the Europe Hotel in Killarney, overlooking Lough Leane and the McGillycuddy Reeks. Peace, quiet and a balcony from which to absorb it all. Get two-nights B&B plus one dinner in late September from €710 per room.

Nap in Donegal
How often do you get an uninterrupted post-prandial snooze at home? Harvey’s Point Hotel on the shores of Lough Eske in Donegal has the perfect package for the kind of person who loves to finish a great meal with a nap. Arrive in time for its award-winning Sunday lunch and stay over in a deluxe suite. Wake for the full Irish breakfast early enough and you could grab a quick forty winks before checkout too, from € 119 pps this autumn.


Activity breaks

Float your boat in Connemara
Stay at Currarevagh House, a Victorian manor house on 150 acres on Lough Corrib in Connemara, and you can row one of its boats out to your very own island. The hotel provides a picnic hamper that includes firelighters and a kettle, so you can brew up some tea and play at being pioneers or castaways, or whatever takes your fancy. Just remember to row back again in time for dinner, because it’s included in the rate – €195 per person for two nights B&B, including picnic.

On your bike in Tuscany
Tuscany is home to one of the most spectacular stretches of the Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome and autumn’s a great time to go, with temperatures ranging from the mid-20s to the mid-teens. In September you’ll get to enjoy the local wine harvest, in October it’s all about the mushrooms, and November is truffle season. Take the easy route and cycle from from Lucca to Siena, with prices starting at €773 for seven nights.

Have an Indian autumn
Make it an Indian summer with an Eat Pray Love-lite journey from Delhi to, if not self-enlightenment, at least Goa, with a 15-day adventure that includes such highlights as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Jaipur, Mumbai and, finally, the beaches of the old hippy haunt of Goa. A fully guided tour, it’s priced from €1,399 pps or €1,799 for the solo traveller.

Stress bust with yoga
Of course, if you’ve a mind to, you can find enlightenment closer to home. Just not at home, obviously. Head to the Wellness & Yoga Retreat from Friday to Sunday, October 2nd-4th, at the all new, purpose built wellness studio at Delphi Adventure Resort in Leenane, for relaxing this and cleansing that, all in a spectacular setting. Rates start at €349 per person sharing (more if you go solo), all inclusive.

Twelve green bottles
Been quaffing wine too long without the lingo to pass it off as a hobby? Put things to rights with a wine tasting package at The Twelve hotel in Barna, Galway. Its restaurant, West, is the only one in Ireland to win a Wine Spectator award for an eighth year, and to celebrate it’s running a wine package including two nights B&B, a 45-minute wine tasting and a five-course tasting menu for €480 per couple sharing.


Spa breaks

Rugby free zone
If the thought of having your autumn determined by an oval ball alarms you, book a Rugby Getaway Package at the Powerscourt Hotel in Enniskerry. Instead of tripping over cans of beer in front of the telly you’ll be quaffing afternoon tea, enjoying a mud bath of your own at its ESPA spa and the only All Black you’ll hear about is the cocktail of that name – an espresso martini – prepared at the bar. The midweek overnight package costs €365 pps.

Hot and cold water in Cork
Like beer, some people have very strong feelings about whether they like their seawater cold or warm. Figure out where you stand on this very important matter at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa which offers both a heated thalassotherapy saltwater pool and the regular Atlantic just outside the door. A two-night break with B&B and one dinner, from €210 pps midweek from September on.

East meets west
Have a super healthy spa and sushi break at the Radisson Blu Galway, enjoying a meal at its top floor, and top notch, sushi restaurant plus an Elemis facial at its Spirit One spa downstairs, as well as use of the thermal suite with its indoor swimming pool and outdoor hot tub overlooking Lough Atalia, for €165 pps.

Master the art of you
If you’re been a household ninja all summer, juggling work, kids and endless sand, it’s time to take your studies to the next level. Two Shaolin masters are taking up residence at Monart in Wexford this autumn to instruct you on martial arts, meditation and general wellbeing – motherhood in fact. Book your two-night Shaolin Experience stay, including warrior massage, from €299 pps.

Stress reliever 
Ease away your stress at venerable Ragdale Hall, a Victorian pile in Leicestershire and one of the best known spa centres in the UK. It is offering Autumn Midweek Saver packages from September 15th to October 15th, from £269 pps. East Midlands airport is just 25 minutes away and, at the time of writing, Ryanair is offering flights for a tenner, so no stress there then.


City Breaks

Love NY Zipping off to New York for pre-Christmas shopping sounds very 2006, except that you’ll get a lot less bang for your lot less bucks these days. That said, if you can get a gang of you together there’s value, like this one from Tour America departing November 12th. Get three nights at the Beacon Hotel on the upper west side from €789 per person based on four sharing, including flights. What matter exchange rates when you’ve got Century 21?

Chill out in Iceland
Cool your jets with a three-night trip to Reykjavik, departing October 8th, from €579 pps, staying in a three-star, city centre hotel, with plenty of time to explore the city and the option of guided tours to make sure you see such highlights as the lagoon, the geyser and the waterfall.

Hit the road in Barcelona
See Barcelona from a different perspective with a Touring Barcelona Package from the Grand Hotel Central. The package includes one or more nights in a superior room for two, buffet breakfast and four hours hire of its super-cute tiny electric cars – with wifi connection for directions so you don’t get lost– from €309 a night. Or stay put and soak up the last of the summer sun in its small but stunningly situated rooftop pool.

Lose the sinking feeling
Autumn’s a great time to visit Venice, when the heat and crowds of summer have both dissipated. has a week at the Hilton Molino Stucky on Giudecca island, with views out across the Grand Canal to Venice and a roof top pool from which to view it all. Seven nights B&B for two, including flights, are available at time of writing for €1,038, down from the regular price of €1,367.

Luxury in London
The super luxury Lanesborough Hotel in Knightsbridge, closed since 2013, has recently reopened, making it the perfect chance to see what they’ve done with what is reputed to be the city’s most expensive hotel. The hotel is perfectly placed for a visit to Harrods, Harvey Nichols and the designer boutiques of Sloan Street. An overnight stay for two as part of its Weekend in Residence package costs from £510 per room, including champagne.

Sunshine Make for Malta
If you’re looking for a solo break Travel Department has seven nights B&B, plus four excursions, staying at the San Antonio Hotel on the northern side of the island, in Quawra on St Paul’s Bay. The hotel overlooks the sea and is 15km from the capital city, Valletta. The trip departs October 29th, and costs from €899 including flights – and no single supplement applies.

Kos b’gosh
Tourism providers in Kos have had a rough season. Help out those who are busy helping out migrants and at the same time – no one said you have to be a saint – take advantage of some of the amazing deals on offer, such as a week all-inclusive break in the Blue Lagoon Village, 10km from Kefalos, with sea views and its own beach, from €797 per person sharing, departing September 19th.

Dubai dreaming
With October temperatures hovering around the mid-30s, Dubai is a great spot for autumn sun. Stay at Sofitel’s The Palm, on luxurious Palm Jumeirah Island, with three swimming pools, eight restaurants and a private beach, with lodges set out village style. A four-night package costs from €1,569 per person based on two sharing, throughout October, including complimentary upgrade to half board.

Chillax in Ibiza
Once the party people have gone home you’ll find Ibiza a surprisingly relaxed – and scenic – holiday spot. Stay seven nights half board at the four-star beach front Fiesta Cala Nova hotel, a 10 minute walk from the centre of Es Cana and three kilometres from Santa Eulalia, from €699 half board, based on two sharing, departing September 30th.

Me time in Sicily
If you’ve been looking after others all summer, an all-inclusive Club Med break is a great way to feel someone else is looking after you. Lap up one at the Club Med Kamarina Resort in Sicily, with direct flights from Dublin and just a half hour transfer, departing September17th. A vast 96 hectare resort with spa, tennis and watersports, prices start from €869 per adult.

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