It’s been a LONG year. Whether you dealt with home-schooling, working on the frontline or even just the existential dread that was lockdown, it’s fair to say that we all deserve a break. And there’s no better time for a getaway than Winter, with its perfect combination of cosy fireplaces, hot drinks and frosty morning walks, all wrapped up.
VIP’s Deputy Editor Niamh shares her top recommendations for a gorgeous Irish getaway, from Dublin to Belfast…
It’s a classic, and for good reason. Overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, this five-star hotel has been treating guests (including the likes of John F. Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco) for almost 200 years and staying there really is as special as you’d hope. As soon as you step foot into the famous foyer, steeped in grandeur and history, you’ll be treated like *royalty*.
Standard bedrooms are super plush, with a queen sized bed and fluffy robes, and the ensuite bathroom has an impressive tub encased in sleek marble – ideal for a bubble bath/glass of prosecco moment. Dining in The Saddle Room is a superb experience (make sure to order Chef Garry Hughes’ Beef Wellington, which is carved table-side!) and cocktails may not be cheap, but they are fabulous and No. 27 The Shelbourne Bar is such a glamorous place to sip them in. theshelbourne.com
Another Dublin hotel, you can guarantee that the staff here will make you feel a million dollars throughout your stay in the Conrad. It’s the perfect location for a shopping trip to the city, just 10 minute stroll from Grafton Street, and it’s directly opposite the National Concert Hall, which is always running great music events.
Plus, the food and cocktails in hotel’s eatery The Terrace are to-dieee-for. Make sure you try the salted caramel and miso chicken wings, as well as the burrata with nectarines and Macadamia nuts. Divine. Finish up with a boujee cocktail in Lemuel’s; inspired by Gulliver’s Travels, each drink is themed. The Sorcerer’s Tipple (Longville Apple Brandy, Teelings Small Batch, lemon, sugar and smoked Applewood) is the perfect winter warmer. hilton.com
The Johnstown Estate
I can’t stress enough how incredible this Meath hotel’s new spa is. After a 3.5million investment, it opened last year, and I was blown away by every single element; from the rooftop jacuzzi and hydrotherapy pool, to the thermal suite with rainforest showers, a salt chamber and reflexology pathway, to the beautiful in-spa dining area. As well as treatments like Elemis facials and massages, there are unique spa experiences like the iDome, which combines infrared technology with plasma and light therapy to provide three different detox treatments, leaving skin utterly glowing.
While a spa day would be fabulous in itself, the hotel is also a gorgeous night away, especially at this time of year with its roaring fires and adorable décor.. The staff will go above and beyond for you, the food in the Fire and Salt restaurant is absolutely delicious and the hotel grounds are stunning for a wintery stroll. thejohnstownestate.com
The Wicklow Escape
Picture the scene: a Michelin star chef cooking you up a delectable feast, in the heart of the Wicklow mountains, before retiring to a cosy, cute cabin for the best night’s sleep. That is, in essence, what The Wicklow Escape is all about. Renowned chef Danni Barry’s food is made from hyper local produce and it reflects in the taste; every bite is a slice of heaven, elevated by perfect wine pairings. Think cod with roast bone sauce, Wicklow mountain venison and Ballyhubbock ricotta with pickled beetroot, raspberry vinegar and linseed cracker. Yum.
The cabins have beautiful beds with alpaca wool blankets and thoughtful, quirky touches, and the surrounding natural beauty is so peaceful. Christmas party bookings are being taken now with a sumptuous festive menu planned – what a way to treat your team! thewicklowescape.com
The Montenotte Hotel
If you’re thinking of a trip to Cork, check this colourful, eclectic boutique hotel out. From jelly baby art and chandeliers to rainbow china dogs in each room, it’s a feast for the eyes, and so much fun. The hotel has so much to do inside that you won’t even need to venture into the city – from private cinema The Cameo, which has free evening screenings from guests, to Hollywood-themed cocktails on the fabulous terrace overlooking Cork, to treatments in the Bellevue Spa.
Of course it would be a shame not to experience all that Cork has to offer, and The Montenotte is just a 10 minute walk to lively MacCurtain Street, with Patrick Street just a further 10 minutes away, for all your shopping needs. Gift vouchers are now on sale from €50 to €600, and on Black Friday, if you buy €200 worth of vouchers, you receive a €25 gift card for yourself. Nice! themontenottehote.com
Muckross Park Hotel and Spa
Enjoy festive indulgence in The Kingdom’s five-star Muckross Park Hotel & Spa, which always goes BIG for Christmas; envision roaring log fires, traditional Christmas trees, boughs of holly and twinkling lights. Plus, the nearby Muckross National Park in Killarney is a beautiful spot to go for a winter walk whilst wrapped up warm. The spa is an incredible spot for downtime and relaxation, and its winter offer sounds like absolute heaven: 60 minutes pre-treatment time in the Vitality Suite, with its outdoor hot tub, steam room, sauna, heated loungers and pool, and choose two 30 minute treatments, followed by Afternoon Tea in the opulent Tea Room (pictured here, isn’t it incredible!?) – all for €129 per person.
There’s also a four-course festive fine dining menu in the award-winning 2AA Yew Restaurant, for €65 per person. Make sure to hire bikes before you leave to take in the breathtaking beauty; they don’t say West is Best for nothing! muckrosspark.com
The Culloden Estate and Spa
When it comes to Christmas markets, Belfast is one of the best. Even with some restrictions this year, it’s set to be as magical as ever. And if you really want to treat yourself, check into The Culloden Estate and Spa, a five star resort on the slopes of the Holywood Hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the Co. Antrim coastline. Originally built as the official palace for the Bishops of Down, it is a hotel fit for a king, with opulent surroundings and 12 acres of stunning, secluded garden and woodland for exploring.
If you want to add yet an extra layer of luxury to your trip up North, the spa is a total sanctuary, with signature treatments like the Celtic Dream on offer: an ocean wrap, hot stone massage and oriental scalp massage. Plus, the fine-dining food in Vespers Restaurant is top class. For Christmas, the Culloden really pulls out all the stops, with the likes of Christmas tree lighting ceremony, festive afternoon tea and events like Cake and Carols. cullodenestateandspa.com