Baby it’s cold outside: 10 great Irish winter escapes from the Blue Book
It’s not too late to book a winter escape – here are 10 luxurious places to rest and rejuvenate during the colder months
The 18th century Glenlo Abbey in Co Galway
Picture a crackling-bright open turf fire by your side while you curl up on a cosy couch and sip on a creamy hot chocolate or hot whiskey and let yourself exhale. This is the kind of winter escape on offer at some of the Blue Book’s destinations around the country.
We’ve selected winter escapes for those seeking everything from gourmet dining, luxury spa treatments or simply unwinding by the fire all day. Treat yourself and loved ones with a break or brighten up someone’s year with a voucher.
BUSHMILLS INN, CO ANTRIM
Inglenook turf fires, hayloft snugs and a secret library to while away an afternoon with a hot drop of local whiskey and delicious food are all part of The Bushmills Inn experience. Located in the village that is home to the world’s oldest distillery, Old Bushmill’s Distillery, between the Giant’s Causeway and Royal Portrush Golf Club, it is the perfect luxurious winter getaway for a cosy retreat.
Originally a coaching inn dating from the 1600s, this four-star boutique hotel and restaurant lovingly showcases the heritage of the building, with everything you would expect from a modern hotel.
The food is renowned for showcasing the best of local produce. For their one-night Winter Warmer, available throughout January, you will enjoy a mince pie and nip of mulled wine on arrival, a four-course set dinner in the award-winning restaurant and full Irish breakfast cooked to order (from £90 per person). Their two-night weekend retreat, available all winter, includes a la carte dinner credit of £50 per room in their restaurant and full Irish breakfast (from £170 per person).
DUNBRODY HOUSE, CO WEXFORD
This stunning 1830s Georgian Manor House Hotel sits amidst 300 acres of peaceful parklands. It is renowned for its superb service and warmth and is an ideal place to get away from it all. Begin your evening with an aperitif of their winter cocktail, a Moscow Mule, on their comfy couches by open turf fires while the chandeliers that twinkle with candlelight set a soothing tone before dinner.
Dine in the Harvest Room Restaurant where chef Kevin Dundon has created a fantastic menu showing off the best bounty of the season. Dishes like Goose and Chestnut Soup, Loin of Venison with Mulled Wine Jus, Fresh Monkfish with Curried Mussels with delicious winter vegetables like celeriac, beets and tender sprouting broccoli. Finish with the sweet treat that’s perfect for sharing, the Chocolate Kiss.
After a good night’s sleep and a late lie-in there is no rush or panic for breakfast as you can have it served until noon and enjoy it in front of an open turf fire. If you are feeling energetic venture out to explore the Hook Peninsula, or you might want to snuggle up in front of the fire with a good book. For real indulgence head to the Spa and try their Signature Hot Oil Elixir full body massage. Dunbrody house offers a wide range of packages including Winter Weekends (Two nights B&B, one dinner) from €225 per person sharing, the CHILL Spa package from €175 per person sharing and their Cooking up a Storm (cookery school) package from €225 per person sharing.
GLENLO ABBEY, CO GALWAY
There is something about the drive through the cast-iron gates towards Glenlo Abbey Hotel when the beauty of Lough Corrib begins to reveal itself that lets you know that you are in for a very special experience. The hotel, which dates from the 18th Century, is four kilometres from the buzz of Galway city centre and close to the beauty of Connemara.
Waking up to the west of Ireland landscape views here is the perfect tonic to relax. Glenlo have put together lots of lovely, fun events and packages for 2018. They have lots of options for dining and relaxing throughout the hotel, including the Pullman Restaurant on The Orient Express and three elegant receptions rooms in the main House where you can enjoy a relaxing drink, afternoon tea, or just relax and read the newspapers..
ARDTARA COUNTRY HOUSE, CO DERRY
There is a cosy fire in almost every room at Ardtara Country House so it is the perfect place to curl up at the hearth with a good book and one of their delicious liquor coffees or glass of fine wine. Just a short drive from the Heaney Homeplace, this elegant 19th century mansion is surrounded by ten wooded acres in the heart of Northern Ireland.
Chef Ian Orr has created a stunning menu in the hunting-themed Clark restaurant and a stay here is perfect for someone looking for exceptional food. For a New Year getaway try their fantastic deal to enjoy midweek nights and Sundays in January and February 2018 which is £99 bed and breakfast per room (based on two people sharing).
HAYFIELD MANOR, CO CORK
This showstopping five-star hotel sits elegantly within a private walled garden so you have tranquillity for your stay, as well as the benefits of Cork city on your doorstep. From the moment you cross the threshold of Hayfield Manor there is a luxurious feeling of sophistication coupled with the warmth and traditional charm of a country house.
There are lots of sumptuous spots to relax and get cosy throughout the Manor and they are offering a number of post-Christmas packages. Their luxury escape includes two nights luxury accommodation in an upgraded Superior room with full Irish breakfast and a four-course dinner on one evening in either Hayfield Manor's gourmet restaurant, Orchids or the popular Perrott’s Garden Bistro. You will also receive €50.00 credit towards treatments at The Beautique Spa per person.
Residents enjoy exclusive access to the indoor swimming pool, outdoor jacuzzi, steam room and gym. You will also get to enjoy their award-winning afternoon tea for two in the beautiful surroundings of Orchids Restaurant from €340pps.
MARLFIELD HOUSE, CO WEXFORD
We all love to be spoiled from time to time and there is nothing quite like the feeling of luxurious surroundings and accommodation to make something an extra special stay. The beautifully restored Regency period Marlfield House which is surrounded by acres of stunning gardens and woodlands is exactly that kind of getaway.
The recently renovated Duck Lodge is a contemporary cottage with two double bedrooms, luxurious bathrooms, mini-bars, open-plan Miele kitchen, lounge and dining area with open fireplace, multi-channel TVs and Wi-Fi. You can enjoy room service menus from the Duck Restaurant and the Conservatory Restaurant or just pop up to either restaurant or the house itself for afternoon tea or a spot of lunch.
THE MUSTARD SEED, CO LIMERICK
Located in the heart of the Limerick countryside, The Mustard Seed is a wonderful option for a winter-warming break away with lots of comforting and relaxing features like their log fire in their library.
The wonderful staff at this beautiful Victorian country house promise to “cosset” you and let you truly unwind away from the madding crowd.
RATHMULLAN HOUSE, CO DONEGAL
From the moment you walk into Rathmullan House, you feel yourself breathing out any stress and breathing in sheer relaxation. This stunning Georgian house epitomises all the finest things you could want from luxury accommodation, but when you’re cosied up by one of their roaring fires with a gin and tonic you almost forget that you aren’t at home.
The beautiful Donegal location is by the sea and you enjoy a bracing walk on the beach
Their award-winning restaurant, Cook and Gardener has garnered well-deserved praise for their use of locally sourced produce, as well as produce from their own walled organic garden. Thiey prepare the type of meal that people travel hours for, such is the quality.
CASTLE LESLIE ESTATE, CO MONAGHAN
Castle Leslie Estate in Monaghan is one of the last great Irish castle estates that is still being run by its founding family and, as they say themselves, it is “just 80 minutes from Dublin, 60 minutes from Belfast, and a million miles from anywhere.”
You can feel yourself exhale from the moment you enter this glorious estate that is surrounded by woodland and lakes. This year they are offering their Winter Overnight Escape offer in January, with one night’s accommodation, a full Irish breakfast and five-course dinner in their 2 AA Rosette award-winning restaurant, Snaffles, from €110 per person sharing in the Lodge and €120 per person sharing in the Castle.
Snaffles has included the best of the season on their menu with dishes like Roast loin of Estate venison. Their Winter Country Getaway special is two night’s accommodation with a full Irish breakfast each morning, and a candlelit dinner in Snaffles restaurant on an evening of your choice from €185 per person sharing in the Lodge.
A: Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough, Monaghan
T: 00 353 47 88 100
VIEWMOUNT HOUSE, CO LONGFORD
Snuggle up and settle in to a relaxing break by the open fire with a special Bourbon egg nog or Cinnamon Cocoa espresso martini at Viewmount house this winter. This magnificent 17th century country house is a true treasure of the midlands surrounded by beautiful gardens and peaceful countryside.
It is the perfect place to recharge this winter and enjoy the open fires, charming service and incredible food by one of Ireland's best chefs, Gary O’Hanlon in VM restaurant. O’Hanlon is renowned for his exquisite cooking and being passionately pedantic about using local produce and the best of what is in season, with fish from the north-west coast, dry-aged beef and incredible game.
For post-Christmas midweek specials they offer two overnights in their suite including breakfast and a delicious five-course dinner on one night (€440). Or two overnights in their suite including breakfast with early-bird menu on one night (€390.00). For two night’s accommodation in a double room including breakfast with five-course dinner on one night (€380.00) or two night’s accommodation in a double room including breakfast with early bird menu on one night (€330.00). These prices are all based on two people sharing. For an extra special winter treat make sure to book into their famous Room 6 which has an open fire that is lit for guests.
For more information, visit irelandsbluebook.com