Whoever dreamed up a national holiday that required weeks of shopping followed by days of cooking followed by hours of cleaning up was talking turkey. Give yourself a present this year and book yourself a break. Here are 12 hotels where you can spend Christmas and let someone else do all the hard work.
Amber Springs Hotel
Gorey, Co Wexford; ambersprings.ie
The Amber Springs Hotel in north Wexford is a lovely hotel that's super child-friendly, with indoor games and outdoor fun in Amber Park, including go-karts, mini golf, a football pitch and playground. There's a spa and pool for the grown-ups. Book its two-night B&B Christmas Sparkle Package for mulled wine on arrival, dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day lunch, from €379 per adult and €155 per child. Under-threes go free. Self-gift the third night and stay for St Stephen's Day too, from €512 and €229 respectively, including dinner. It's the first time the Gorey hotel is open for Christmas so the focus is firmly on indulging guests with good food, the prospect of hearty winter walks along the area's great beaches, and entertainment for all the family. There's a Christmas Village, family disco and Christmas movies galore.
There's no Christmas like a Connemara Christmas. Find out for yourself at elegant Cashel House, where the McEvilly family and staff are standing by to welcome you to a cocktail reception on Christmas Eve, followed by a festive dinner accompanied by fine wines, traditional music and local carollers. Next day, it's up for a breakfast you'll finish just in time for a magnificent buffet lunch. Follow it up with a snooze in front of the fire, though what you planned was a walk in the Atlantic air. Rouse yourself, if you can, for afternoon tea in the drawing room before, in the evening, enjoying a house-party-style Christmas dinner with all the festive trimmings. Christmas packages are available from €695 per person.
Why martyr yourself this Christmas when you can indulge in five-star luxury in Castlemartyr instead? Arrive on Christmas Eve to mulled wine, before meandering around the grounds, getting back in time for a cocktail reception with carols. There's a five-course dinner in its Bell Tower Restaurant, with a visit from Santa before bedtime. Follow up the Christmas Day feast with board games and a movie, with a buffet supper in the bar later should anyone feel peckish. On St Stephen's Day, book a cosy carriage ride around the grounds to round things off. Sleigh bells ring . . . Breaks start from €630 per night, based on two sharing.
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel
Have a capital Christmas and stay at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel on Golden Lane, in the heart of the city, perfect for that last-minute gallop down Grafton Street on Christmas Eve, or to catch a midnight Mass. When you wake in the morning, you'll find a Christmas stocking on your door handle, filled with – spoiler alert – chocolates and Christmas crackers. There's a three-course dinner for two on Christmas Eve, and a full Christmas dinner on the day itself. Up early next day and you might just find yourself at the top of the queue for the sales. Call it a Christmas miracle. The two-night Christmas Cracker package costs from €250 per person sharing.
Spend Christmas in a castle at Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, a Victorian country house on a 700-acre estate – and a river runs through it. For a very traditional Christmas, it's a de-luxe home-from-home offering endless opportunity for Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. There's the option of dinner on Christmas Eve in its handsome Owenmore Restaurant, or less formally in its Fisherman's Pub, which is good for those bringing kids who need to get to be in bed early for Santa. It's the little things that make the difference and after the revelries of Christmas Day, there's an extended breakfast service on St Stephen's Day, so what's your hurry? Stay three nights including dinner, B&B, light lunch, afternoon tea, drinks receptions plus supper on Christmas night, activities and movies, from €870 per person sharing.
Hayfield Manor Hotel
Think you'll miss having your own Christmas tree? Book Hayfield Manor's Ultimate Christmas Experience and you might just find one waiting for you in your room, perfect for leaving gifts under. It certainly makes more sense than leaving them under the one in reception. Enjoy a festive afternoon tea with Christmas carols and, on Christmas Eve, a four-course festive meal followed by mulled wine and mince pies in front of an open fire. Christmas Day begins with a great big breakfast, while Christmas lunch begins with a Champagne toast. Just don't set fire to the pudding. Santa Claus will make an entrance for younger guests, which is terrific, seeing as how he only just left. Round off the evening with a buffet supper and some classical piano. St Stephen's Day is given over entirely to relaxation – or, if you've kids, hunting for batteries – with more music in the evening. The three-night package costs from €1,490 per person sharing.
Enjoy a taste of Christmas past and wake up at The Shelbourne this Christmas morning, where a very traditional Irish breakfast awaits in The Saddle Room, followed by a visit from Santa in its Lord Mayor's Lounge – for younger guests only, mind you. A one-day Christmas Day break in the Shelbourne, worth two somewhere else, includes breakfast and a lavish five-course lunch, or dinner, on Christmas Day, and starts from €875 per room. Alternatively, packages cost from €675 per room, per night, for a two-night stay arriving December 24th, so you can wake up on Stephen's Green on Stephen's Day.
Lough Erne Resort
Put your feet up in style with the Lough Erne Resort's Christmas Residency package, packed with complimentary mince pies, mulled wine, eggnog and marshmallow hot chocolate. Younger guests can visit Santa's Pantry, a grocery station set up in the library, to hand-pick the items they want to leave out for Santa and Rudolph that night, before enjoying a bedtime story from Mrs Claus. There's Buck's Fizz at breakfast next day, gifts from Santa, and a five-course Christmas lunch, followed by board games and movies, Christmas cake and coffee. Finish up with a light buffet supper and live entertainment. Prices start from £595 (€673) per person sharing for a two night stay.
Park Hotel Kenmare
Co Kerry; parkkenmare.com
Have yourself a very Kerry Christmas at the Park Hotel in Kenmare this year. There's as little or as much to do as you want, including the opportunity to join in a hike with the Kenmare Walking Club, or book some treatments at the SAMAS Spa. There's dancing in the drawing room with live music too. Stay three nights, all inclusive, with candlelit dinner nightly, plus the option of a range of classes and activities to choose from, from €1,495 per person sharing.
Radisson Blu Hotel
For a merry midlands Christmas, check into the Radisson Blu Hotel, right on the Shannon in the heart of Athlone. Stay two nights from €349 per person, including B&B, Christmas Eve dinner, a visit from Santa on Christmas morning, a leisurely Christmas Day lunch and a Christmas evening buffet. Expect mulled wine and mince pies on arrival and complimentary use of the fitness centre to work them all off before departure. Stay a third night and you get dinner on St Stephen's night too, from €419 on the same basis.
Mount Juliet Estate
Enjoy a Christmas escape in Kilkenny with a three-night package staying at Hunters Yard, the swish courtyard residences on the Mount Juliet Estate. There's a mulled wine reception breakfast, to send you right back to sleep, dinner in The Hound restaurant and a visit from Santa during Christmas Day lunch, which takes place, fittingly in The Stables. There's a Christmas supper with music on St Stephen's night and .
Looking for a child-free zone this Christmas? Hotel Kilkenny is offering an adult-only destination for December 24th and 25th this year. It's a chance to enjoy a thoroughly grown-up festive season that includes welcome drinks on arrival, B&B and live entertainment in the bar each night. Enjoy Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch in its Taste Restaurant, with entertainment by magician Andy James. Follow it up with a casual dinner on Christmas evening and it might be just the ticket for those whose grown-up kids have done a disappearing act of their own. It's great value too, with the three-night package starting from €499 per person sharing.