The great getaway: Where to stay in Ireland this summer

Ballynahinch
Restrictions are easing, it’s time to make a break for it. Whatever you’re in the mood for, here are some of the best holidays in Ireland this summer

Family

Kenmare Bay Hotel and Lodges, Co Kerry 
Sneem Road, Kenmare, Co Kerry; 064-6679300; kenmarebayhotel.com; opens June 29th
The Kenmare Bay Hotel, part of the Select Hotels group, is all set to welcome families back to this super-scenic part of the Kingdom this month. Couples can stay two nights, with two children sharing free, including breakfast, from €183 per adult. Or stay self-catering in one of its swish holiday homes, which sleep up to five people, from €109 per night.

Maldron Hotel, Co Cork
John Redmond Street, Shandon, Cork; 021 4529200, malddronhotelshandoncorkcity.ie; opens June 29th
Irish Mini Breaks has some great-value family hotel options too, and they report that while three-night bundles are still most popular, hotels are seeing an unprecedented amount of seven-day bookings already. When you see what’s on offer, it’s easy to see why: a week’s B&B stay at the newly refurbished Maldron Hotel in Shandon, Cork, costs €259 pps.

Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin
27 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2; 01-6634500, theshelbourne.com; opens June 29th
Expect a red-carpet welcome for those families looking to make the most of the much quieter capital this summer. With Stephen’s Green as your playground, it’s a lovely deluxe option offering such family treats this summer as a five-star movie night from €369 for two adults and two children, including movies, hot food, drinks and ice-cream floats.

Clifden Station House, Co Galway
Galway Road, Clifden, Co Galway; 095-21699; clifdenstationhouse.com; opens June 29th
Explore the great wide open in Connemara with a family-friendly staycation at Clifden Station House, where a five-night stay with breakfast each morning and dinner on four evenings of your choice will set you back €950.

Treacys Hotel, Waterford
1 Merchants Quay, Waterford; 051-877222, treacyshotelwaterford.com; 
opens June 29th
Head to Waterford’s quays for a budget-friendly family mini-break. A three-night B&B stay in the well-located hotel costs from €142 pps, including one evening meal. The museums of the city’s famous Viking Triangle are due to reopen in the coming weeks and, in the meantime, there’s always the fresh air and sandy beaches of the Copper Coast, an easy drive away.

Clonmel Park Hotel, Co Tipperary
Cahir Road, Ballingarrane South, Clonmel, Co Tipperary; 052-6188700, clonmelparkhotel.ie; opens June 29th
Stay inland and explore nearby sites such as the Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle and the Swiss Cottage (possibly from the outside, depending on the roadmap). Or bring your bikes and immerse yourself in the local greenway cycle trail. The hotel reopens this month with seven-night stays from €380 per adult including two under-12s.

Delphi Adventure Resort, Co Galway
Tawnyinlough, Leenaun, Co Galway; 095-42208, delphiadventureresort.com; opens July 1st
After being cooped up and locked down so long, there is no finer playground to go wild in than the wilds of Delphi Resort. It’s offering 10 per cent off its early bird three-night summer family breaks, including one dinner and a family land-based activity, for two adults and two children, from €539. There are movies in its cinema room for kids and for grown-ups the resort’s Spa suite is reopening too.

Fota Island Resort, Co Cork
Fota Island, Cork; 021-4883700, fotaisland.ie; opens June 29th
Book a three-night family retreat in its Courtyard Lodge and you get a movie night with treats on one night, and a two-course dinner on another, delivered to your door from the resort’s Clubhouse. The dinner menu features all the family favourites, from steaks to fish finger sandwiches – and dessert. With forests and beaches all around, it’s the complete package from €950 for a family of four.

Dunowen House, Co Cork
Dunowen, Ardfield, Co Cork; 023-8869099, dunowenhouse.ie; opens June 29th
This luxury self-catering option near Clonakilty in West Cork is reopening for minimum seven-night stays and is suitable for family groups of up to 14. The area is full of sheltered coves and sandy beaches, with the closest just a few minutes’ walk away. From €4,000 for a week.

Dromquinna Manor, Co Kerry
Sneem Road, Kenmare, Co Kerry; 064-6642888, dromquinnamanor.com; 
opens July 3rd

Having so many nuptials postponed by the pandemic is rough, but it gives families more chances to stay at popular wedding venues such as this. For optimum relaxation opt for a family glamping tent, from €195 per night including breakfast hamper delivery. Or stay in its Potting Sheds which, despite their earthy origins, are best described as cosy luxury, catering for families with two under-12s from €220 a night. You don’t even have to cook – its Boathouse restaurant can look after all that for you.

Hidden Valley Holiday Park, Co Wicklow
Lower Main Street, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow; 086-7272872, hiddenvalley.ie; 
opens June 29th

Wicklow’s much-loved holiday park will be pulling back its giant wooden gates to residents in just a few weeks, including its Lakehouse Restaurant and ice cream parlour. Like most venues it will be operating at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing, but you can expect the mini golf, boating lake and combat laser tag to be all guns blazing. At time of writing glamping mini lodges were still available from €110 in early July.

Morriscastle Strand Holiday Park, Co Wexford
Morriscastle Strand, Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford; 053 9130124, morriscastlestrand.com; opens June 29th
For an unforgettable seaside holiday, book one of the gorgeous new family pods at Morriscastle Strand. The atmospheric accommodation is located in the sand dunes looking out over the sea. Each can accommodate a family of five (including three smallies) and have their own bathroom and kitchen facilities. All you have to bring are linens, togs and €140 per night. – Sandra O’Connell

Big Style Lodge House
Big Style Lodge House

Activity and group holidays

Big Style Atlantic Lodge, Co Mayo
Killadoon, Co Mayo; 01-4370657, bigstyle.ie; opens July 10th
For a much-needed catch-up with extended family or old friends you can’t beat a weekend out west. You’ll be kept busy surfing, hiking mountains, drinking cold pints, sitting in hot tubs, enjoying yoga with a view, listening to great music and eating delicious food. The absolute antitheses of lockdown life. They’ll be running Adventure Weekends (full board, €295 per person) and Yoga Retreats (five nights, full-board €595 per person) from July onwards.

Cliff Beach House, Co Waterford
Ardmore, Co Waterford; 024-87800, cliffhousehotel.ie; opens June 29th.
If you really want to have a proper post-lockdown blowout, grab a gang of friends and head for the new Cliff Beach House, on the grounds of the Cliff House Hotel. Ludicrously swanky, it is a modern, architect-designed home located above Ardmore Bay, with views of the Atlantic from every room. All six ensuite bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling glass windows, plus there’s a fully equipped gym, hot tub and steam room. Contact for pricing (spoiler alert: it’s not cheap).

Knockranny House Hotel, Co Mayo
Knockranny, Westport, Co Mayo; 098-28600, knockrannyhousehotel.ie;
opens June 29th

Knockranny House Hotel has three summer experiences perfect for dusting off those lockdown cobwebs. You can cycle the Greenway and the Mayo coastline, have a stand-up paddle session in the Atlantic, or sail the Clew Bay islands. All experiences include overnight accommodation and breakfast with prices starting from €75pps with additional activity add-ons. 

Delphi Lodge, Co Galway
Leenane, Connemara, Co Galway; 095-42222, delphilodge.ie; opens June 29th 
Round up at least 10 friends and family, and gorgeous Delphi Lodge can be yours to let down your collective hair. Enjoy big log fires, long afternoon hikes, hot whiskeys, a great library, a snooker room and a wine cellar. With a two-day gap between visitors for cleaning and an on-site food truck planned for July, you can check your worries at the door. Prices vary depending on size and needs of group. – Darragh Geraghty
 

Cultural

Giles Norman Townhouse, Co Cork
Main Street, Kinsale, Co Cork; 021-4774373, gilesnorman.com; opens June 29th
Rooms at this boutique guesthouse come with “five walks with your camera” itineraries, selected by the photographer himself to add snapping spots to your Kinsale rambles. The gorgeous top floor studio suite was once Norman’s own darkroom. From €150 per night, with a complimentary bottle of Prosecco.

Butler House, Kilkenny
16 Patrick Street, Kilkenny; 056-7722828, butler.ie; Opens June 29th
Lockdown saw us urged to take up arts and crafts. Now it’s time to see the experts in action. Many of the Made in Kilkenny craft trail showrooms and studios are open by appointment (madeinkilkenny.ie), while the lovely gardens at Butler House will host an outdoor exhibition, Connected, which also spills over into the adjacent Castle Yard, from July 20th (ndcg.ie). One- or two-night dinner breaks from €199 pps.

Kinnitty Castle, Birr, Co Offaly
Kinnitty, Birr, Co Offaly; 057-9137318, kinnittycastlehotel.com; opens July 4th
Your perfect base to explore the amazing outdoor sculpture park at Lough Boora (loughboora.com), where the former raised bog is so vast, social distancing won’t be an issue, and the art works are one of a kind. One-night B&B in this delicious castle comes with dinner and late checkout, from €99 pps.

Stauntons on the Green, Dublin
83 St Stephen’s Green South, Dublin 2; 01-4782300, stauntonsonthegreen.ie;
opens June 29th
Right next door to MoLI (Museum of Literature Ireland, moli.ie), guests at this very charming townhouse get free tickets to see the literary exhibitions. You’re also a short stroll from the National Gallery, Royal Hibernian Academy, National Library and National Museum at Kildare Street. Cultural overload anyone? If so, relax afterwards in their hidden garden, a real gem. Three nights for the price of two, including a glass of prosecco, from €232 per room. – Gemma Tipton

Foodie

The Tannery Townhouse, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Church Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford; 058-45420, tannery.ieopens July 1st 
The charming guesthouse just around the corner from (our own food columnist) Paul Flynn’s acclaimed dining spot reopens on the restaurant’s 23rd anniversary. Wandering down for your Tannery breakfast is a joy. To celebrate, €130 pps will get you B&B, plus a Tannery dinner too.

Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny
Thomastown, Co Kilkenny; 056-7773000, mountjuliet.ieManor House opens June 29th, with Hunters Yard opening mid-July
With the Michelin-starred Lady Helen Restaurant on site, Mount Juliet is fantastic for foodies, and that’s without taking in the eateries of Thomastown, as well as soaking up another Michelin star at Kilkenny’s Campagne. Still hungry? Just €100 will add a Mount Juliet picnic including Sevruga caviar – naturally. Overnight with dinner at the Lady Helen from €474 for two.

Cliff House Hotel
Cliff House Hotel

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford
Middle Road, Ardmore, Co Waterford; 024-87800, cliffhousehotel.ie; opens June 29th
Including a guided seaweed forage and tasting, and a beach picnic, plus dinner, the Sea Gardener family adventure package is very delicious, and healthy fun. Two nights for two adults and two children sharing in a Terrace Suite includes breakfast, and dinner on one night from €1,490.

River Lee Hotel
River Lee Hotel

Sheen Falls Lodge, Co Kerry
Kenmare, Co Kerry; 064-6641600, sheenfallslodge.ie; opens July 1st 
Renowned for its seafood, Kenmare is a culinary hotspot. At Sheen Falls, they smoke their own salmon, and source their organic veg from the surrounding fields. The view of the waterfall isn’t bad either. Stay on a Wednesday to catch the Kenmare Farmers Market in the Square. Dinner, B&B from €240 pps. – Gemma Tipton

Budget breaks

Pure Magic Lodge, Achill Island, Mayo
Slievemore Road, Achill Island, Co Mayo; 098-43859, puremagic.ie; opens June 29th
Located at the foot of Slievemore Mountain and overlooking Keel Lake, Pure Magic Achill Lodge is all about the great outdoors. Take a stand-up paddleboarding lesson, or maybe learn to kite-surf, before heading back for some home-made pizza and a well-earned kip. A double room with lake view costs €80 per night.

Generator Hostel, Smithfield, Dublin
Smithfield, Dublin 7; 01-9010222, staygenerator.com; opens June 29th
You’re a 20-year-old student who just spent three months stuck at home with your parents and little brother – you deserve a holiday. It’s not exactly Amsterdam, but the Generator is a great hostel and this is the only summer of our lives when Dublin won’t be heaving with tourists. Might as well enjoy it. A Deluxe King room costs €60-€80 per night.

Lawcus Farm Guesthouse, Kilkenny
Stoneyford, Kilkenny; 056-7728949, lawcusfarmguesthouse.com; opening date to be decided, phone for further details
Located just 15 minutes from Kilkenny city, Lawcus Farm Guesthouse is a little slice of bucolic perfection. A beautifully renovated stone farmhouse with old-world charm, it is surrounded by tranquil countryside teeming with wildlife. Double rooms start at €100-€120 per night with breakfast.

Bruckless House Lodge
Bruckless House Lodge

Bruckless House, Donegal
Bruckless, Co Donegal; 074-9737071, bruckless.com; opens June 29th
A nationally protected building with a cobbled farmyard and 18 acres of woodland, Bruckless House is a beautifully preserved vision of Georgian life. A stay in the self-catering Gate Lodge is the perfect base from which to explore Slieve League and Glenveigh National Park. The lodge is available to rent from a weekly basis for €450.  – Darragh Geraghty

Splurge

The Merrion Hotel, Dublin
Merrion Street Upper, Dublin 2; 01-6030600, merrionhotel.com; opens June 29th
Right in the heart of Georgian Dublin, the Merrion has a reputation for taking the very best care of their guests. Welcoming you back, they have some treats up their elegant sleeves: the Five Star Steal gives you one night in a luxurious double room, a bottle of champagne on arrival, dinner and breakfast for €175pps. Or head out on the river, with a private two-hour guided Liffey kayak, plus B&B, also for €175pps.

Hilton Park, Co Monaghan
Clones, Co Monaghan; 047-4756007, hiltonpark.ieopens July 1st
In the same family since the 1700s, Hilton Park is pretty close to perfection. What are we saying? It is perfect. This stately home is elegant and informal, sophisticated and homely, secluded and idyllic. Hire the whole house, plus its surrounding 400 acres (including wild swimming and fishing) from €1,600 per night, which, when you realise it sleeps 12 to 16 in total luxury, starts to sound pretty do-able indeed.

Ballyfin, Co Laois
Cappanrush, Ballyfin, Co Laois; 057-8755866, ballyfin.com; opens July 23rd
Pure escapism is the order of the day at Ballyfin, as this exquisitely restored estate has 600 acres. The ineffably, yet tastefully luxurious hotel will initially be opening just 12 of its 20 rooms (plus the Gardener’s Cottage). Rates start at €1,250 per room, but that’s full board, and they really know how to treat you right. So if you saved up during the shutdown, or really, really want to treat someone right, might this be how to spend it?

Ballyvolane House
Ballyvolane House

Ballyvolane House, Co Cork
Castlelyons, Co Cork; 025-36349, ballyvolanehouse.ieopens July 1st 
Home of the acclaimed Bertha’s Revenge gin, Ballyvolane can also be your home, with exclusive whole-house rentals for up to three nights B&B for €2,167 per night. There are six bedrooms, so divvy that up how you like. It’s a gorgeous Georgian country house, with a relaxing air of fun in a very tasty setting. Chef available on request. – Gemma Tipton

Wellness

Burren Yoga Retreat, Co Galway
Normangrove, Cappaghmore, Co Galway; 091-637680, burrenyoga.com;
opens July 10th
Stiffened up on the sofa? Lost your cool on the couch? A week at the Burren Yoga Retreat should sort you out. With retreats to suit all levels, six days and nights, from €845, includes accommodation, meals, yoga and meditation, plus outings in the incredible Burren landscape. Not ready for a whole week? Try a weekend from €495.

Kellys Resort Hotel, Co Wexford
Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford; 053-9173537, kellys.ie; opens July 4th
While guests at Kellys have tended to spend their time on the premises, making the most of the facilities, the hotel team have used opening up to open up your horizons. New activities include walking itineraries – from the heights of Forth Mountain, to the sweep of Rosslare Beach, to a chance to explore Johnstown Castle. Then back to enjoy a welcome snack. From €250 per person half board, for two nights midweek.

Cloona Health Retreat, Co Mayo
Westport, Co Mayo; 098-25251, cloona.ie; opens August 2th
You’ll have to wait a little longer for the Cloona Health Retreat to open up, but if your body is muttering about what you’ve been putting it through, you might want to get your name down now. Retreats are from €720 for five nights, and include gentle exercise, a light vegetarian diet, and a range of therapies. Options go from Standard to Weight Loss to Liver Flush. See what we mean?

Creacon Wellness Retreat, Co Wexford
Creaken Lower, New Ross, Co Wexford; 051-447666, creacon.comopens June 29th
Based on your lockdown experience, you may or may not be sorely in need of a little Zen. If you are after a chance to massage your spiritual side, check out Creacon’s taster retreat, the Buddy Break with an overnight, B&B, “Food is Medicine” dinner, and two classes, from €98pps, or try Yoga and Meditation for two nights at the discounted rate of €260pps (usually €350pps).

Romantic

Eccles Hotel, Co Cork
Glengarriff Harbour, Glengarriff, Co Cork; 027-63093, eccleshotel.com; opens June 29th
Ireland’s oldest purpose-built hotel, the Eccles had a major refurb last year, and is right on Bantry Bay. The rooms are charming, the food is great, but the real romance comes from exploring Illnacullin/Garnish Island, or discovering the phosphorescent waters as you wander by moonlight later on. Linger for longer at the Eccles, with five nights including dinner on two, for €467.50 pps.

Ice House Hotel, Co Mayo
The Quay, Ballina, Co Mayo; 096-23500, icehousehotel.ie; opens June 29th
Meander through the wilds of Mayo, or pedal your way to passion – the pace is up to you. Then come back, wrap up in a soft Foxford rug and watch the sun go down over the Moy on the riverbank terrace. Two nights at the Ice House with bicycle hire, a picnic, and dinner on one night from €235pps.

Ashford castle
Ashford castle

Ashford Castle, Co Mayo
Cong, Co Mayo; 094-9546003, ashfordcastle.com; opens July 3rd
If John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara tearing strips off each other in The Quiet Man isn’t enough to get you in the mood (you can watch it in the hotel’s private cinema), there’s plenty of other aphrodisiacs at romantic Ashford Castle. The rooms are lavish, the wine cellars atmospheric, the food fantastic and the welcome as warm as you could wish for. From €525 B&B per room.

River Lee Hotel, Cork
Western Road, Cork; 021-4252700, doylecollection.com/cork; opening July 20th
You can still enjoy a stylish city break with your beloved this summer by heading south to the River Lee hotel in Cork city. Their “Weekends in Style” package is available from Thursday to Sunday for two people sharing, and includes accommodation in one of their luxury rooms, 15 per cent off the best flexible rate, full breakfast each morning, a welcome bottle of prosecco and late check-out (subject to availability).

Ballynahinch
Ballynahinch Castle

Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway
Recess, Co Galway; 095-31006, ballynahinchcastle.comopens July 1st 
Pick your partner, and pick a picnic from a choice of three. Then head out into the heart of Connemara, roaming the hotel’s 700 acres, to lose your heart to your chosen one . . . Okay, so there’s something about this wildly beautiful landscape that gets us carried away, but the hotel is very lovely, and it comes in at €400 B&B pps for two nights, with picnic included. – Gemma Tipton

Get back to nature

Knocknalosset House, Cavan
Canningstown, Bailieborough, Co Cavan; 01-6704733, irishlandmark.com; opens June 29th
Hands up if you harbour secret guilt over how much TV your children watched during lockdown. We all do; it’s fine. But now it’s time to get some honest-to-goodness fresh air into those couch potato lungs. A beautiful two-storey farmhouse in the heart of the lakelands of Co Cavan, Knocknalosset House is a cosy step back through time. Plus it doesn’t have a TV so no distractions. From €402 for two nights.

Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, Clifden, Galway
Sky Road, Clifden, Galway; 095-21201, abbeyglen.ie; opens June 29th
The spectacular views, incredible seafood, the quaint and friendly ambience are a draw. But if you have a hankering for a bit of nature, its proximity to Connemara National Park is a real bonus. Get up early, pack a picnic and get exploring the 2,000 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and forests. Two nights in a superior room with breakfast costs €440.

Dingle Skellig Hotel, Dingle, Kerry
Farran, Dingle, Co Kerry; 066-9150200, dingleskellig.com; opens July 3rd
What did you miss most during lockdown? Be honest: it was Fungie, wasn’t it? Well, reports are he was lonely, too. Get on down to Dingle and give his little bottlenose snout a pet. Two nights in the Dingle Skellig Hotel deluxe family room with breakfast costs €540.

Kilkee Townhouse, Kilkee, Clare
2 Erin Street, Kilkee, Co Clare; 065-9083623, kilkeetownhouse.com; opens June 29th 
The end of lockdown is cause for celebration. Yet there is something we will miss: the unexpectedly loud and prevalent birdsong that has come to soundtrack our isolated lives. Embark on a birdwatching break on the Loop Head peninsula, where you’ll hear the sweet sound of barnacle geese from Greenland, cormorants, great black-backed gulls and storm petrels. Kilkee Townhouse, a boutique guesthouse, has double rooms from €90 per night. – Darragh Geraghty

Far from the madding crowd

Castle Leslie Estate, Monaghan
Glaslough, Co Monaghan; 047-88100, castleleslie.com; opens July 6th
Set on 1,000 acres of rolling countryside, Castle Leslie Estate is about as far from the recent daily drudgery as you can get. Spend an afternoon fishing on a pristine lake, explore the surrounding woodland on horseback, or just get pampered in the Victorian Treatment Room. You’ll basically be living in an episode of Downton Abbey. A three-night self-catering family break in the Old Stable Mews costs €750.

SJ Schooner Lighthouse, Donegal
Dunkineely, Donegal; 01-6704733, irishlandmark.com; opens June 29th
You’ve just been cooped up with your family for three months; it’s time to be cooped up with them somewhere else. At least here you’ll be in a stunning lighthouse with views of the Donegal coast. Beautifully renovated by the Irish Landmark Trust, this is a self-catering holiday home that’s as far from civilisation as you can get on our little island. Sleeps four. From €430 for two nights.

Self-catering kitchen in Dunmore House
Self-catering kitchen in Dunmore House

Dunmore House, West Cork
Clonakilty, West Cork; 023-8833352, dunmorehousehotel.ie; opens June 29th
Overlooking the picturesque Clonakilty Bay, Dunmore House is a family-owned and run hotel with 30 bedrooms, as well as self-catering houses, with the option to have a range of homemade dishes stocked in the fridge on arrival. With 10 beaches within 10 minutes of the hotel, there’s no shortage of places to clear the head. A six-bedroom, three-bathroom courtyard house starts from €1,600 for seven nights.

Barrow House, Tralee, Co Kerry
Barrow West, Tralee, Co Kerry; 089-2463342, barrowhouse.ie; opens June 29th
An elegant Georgian house overlooking Barrow Bay, Barrow House is an oasis of calm and comfort. Each of the eight individually designed rooms is spacious and bright; some have huge sea-facing bay windows. They are currently running a deal with two nights B&B, plus two rounds of golf at the world-famous Tralee Golf Course for €460 per person.