There’s something incredibly decadent about decamping to a hotel or country house for a Christmas break. Whether you’re considering a Christmas Day free from pots and pans and turkey basters and washing up, want to start a fresh New Year’s Eve tradition, or simply wish to gift yourself a stress-free few days before or after all the parties and gatherings, our guide to the best Christmas breaks will set your celebrations in motion.
Rewarded its Michelin star again this year, a stay at Hunter's Yard at Mount Juliet Estate is worth it for the culinary experience alone. Christmas here is a magical affair – Champagne toasts at every turn, and whispers of a surprise visit from the Man in Red. A three-night festive stay here includes mulled wine on arrival and a relaxed dinner in the Hound restaurant on Christmas Eve, traditional Christmas lunch in Hunter's Yard on Christmas Day with a delicious supper and festive music that night, and on St Stephen's Day, lunch, dinner and either a falconry or equestrian activity on the estate. The package at the Kilkenny five-star starts at €849 per person sharing. mountjuliet.ie
For a Big House experience this Christmas, consider Viewmount House in Co Longford. Tucked away just outside the town, the estate offers the perfect destination for a Christmas get together or a getaway for a group of family or friends.
The property has 12 luxury rooms and seating for up to 80 in the onsite restaurant, so you can include the whole clan. Begin the evening with a drinks reception in the Viewmount House library in front of a blazing fire, then enjoy a candlelit dinner in the restaurant in the old stables, before retreating to your period bedroom with sweeping views across the gardens. viewmounthouse.com.
If country pile is more your style, look to the K Club. The team here goes all out this time of year, with lavish spread in the restaurant, fabulous décor, carol singing and the arrival of Santa in a horse and carriage. With an array of activities on-site, the option of interconnecting family rooms, an adults-only bar and the kids-only Kids Club, treasure hunts, family quiz nights, and a Christmas tree in every room, a stay here has something for the entire family.
A two-night family Christmas getaway starts from €995 per night, with interconnecting family rooms for an additional €200 per night for up to two children, and all meals included for each child. kclub.ie
Break from tradition this year and enjoy a much more relaxing festive experience away from it all at the Galway Coast Cottages. Just a few minutes' walk from the pretty seaside village of Barna and a 15-minute drive from Galway city, take up residence in your own whitewashed cottage by the sea, complete with roaring log fire, a bottle of Champagne and twinkling Christmas tree ready to welcome you. Cosy up with your favourite films, enjoy long beach walks and choose from cooking in the fully equipped kitchen, or save yourself the hassle and book in for a Christmas meal delivered by the award-winning Twelve Hotel. A three-night stay at Galway Coast Cottages, arriving on Christmas Eve, starts from €979 for up to six guests staying in a three-bed cottage. galwaycoastcottages.com
For the quintessential Christmas
Ever wondered what it would be like to wake up in Ireland's most beloved heritage hotel on December 25th? Celebrations begin at The Shelbourne on Christmas morning with a traditional Irish breakfast, served in the comfort of your own room or in The Saddle Room, followed by a visit from Santa Claus in The Lord Mayor's Lounge for younger guests. With the five-star property adorned with decorations, and the city barely stirring outside, indulging in a festive stay here is a bucket list experience. The one-night Christmas Day stay at The Shelbourne with breakfast and a lavish five-course Christmas lunch or dinner starts from €455 per person, and €675 per person for a two-night stay from December 24th to 26th., theshelbourne.ie
Prolong the festive feeling and indulge in a little self-care with a post-Christmas break at Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa. With a mulled wine afternoon tea, board games by the fire, classic Christmas movies and beach walks par for the course, a stay here is just what's needed post-party season. Their Twixmas getaway includes a two-night stay with breakfast each morning in The Gulfstream Restaurant, afternoon tea in The Lounge and use of their Thalassotherapy spa from €350 per person sharing between December 27th to 30th. inchydoneyisland.com
Ballynahinch Castle is a fantastic festive destination for people who love the great outdoors. Christmas Eve begins with traditional festive treats and pre-dinner carol singing, with dinner served in the Owenmore Restaurant, an elegant series of riverside rooms. On Christmas morning, after an extended breakfast service, wander the 700 acres of mature wooded grounds, walks and one of Connemara's oldest gardens before a celebratory Christmas dinner.
St Stephen’s morning commences with breakfast and guided walks, before dinner in either the restaurant or pub accompanied by live music. Christmas at Ballynahinch Castle includes three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast, welcome treats, light lunch on two days, afternoon tea daily, drinks reception on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, light supper on Christmas night, activities and movies, and costs from €960 per person sharing in a classic room. ballynahinch-castle.com
Harvey's Point on Lough Eske has the last word in romantic destinations. The stunning Donegal five-star hotel prides itself on its excellent service and second-to-none views. Christmas at Harvey's Point is a best kept secret amongst those in the know. Their four-day Residential Christmas Break includes bed and breakfast, dinner on two evenings, Christmas Day lunch and supper, with Christmas activities and entertainment. For a festive escape with the one you love, this place is truly remote, secluded and special. From €839 per person sharing. harveyspoint.com
For Downton fanatics
Out on the Beara Peninsula in Cork, the Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff has a rich history few know about. The 250-year-old bolthole has been frequented throughout the years by the likes of WB Yeats, Maureen O'Hara, and George Bernard Shaw, and this New Year the hotel celebrates that history by stepping back in time, throwing a Downton Abbey-inspired New Year's Eve Ball.
Begin the evening with a cocktail jazz reception and then, summoned by the dinner bell, enjoy a delicious menu with fine wine. Dance the night away with live jazz and swing music. The Downton Ball with an overnight stay at Eccles Hotel on New Year’s Eve starts from €278 for a forest view room, and €308 for a bay view room. eccleshotel.com
For new beginnings
Pre-empting festivity and hosting weariness? Book a New Year's stay at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney in Dublin. The four-star will host a New Year's Ball where guests will be welcomed with a prosecco reception, followed by a five-course meal, and entertainment until the wee hours. The next morning, blow the cobwebs away with a walk to the top of Killiney Hill or a dip in the hotel's pool. The perfect start to a brand new year includes an overnight stay with breakfast and a ball ticket from €220 per adult sharing, fizpatrickcastle.com