The NPR team choose their favourite Irish hotels – to help inspire you post-lockdown!
As we trade far-flung destinations for a summer at home, our team decided to put together some of the hotels they want to return to post-lockdown. This will hopefully give you some inspiration for your own staycation! Travel writers Kevin, Clodagh, Shauna and Ciaran have stayed in many destinations across Ireland. So, they find it difficult to choose just one favourite! But after narrowing their choices down, they have chosen five hotels which:
+ Are suitable for all interests and age groups (but also ideal for a getaway from the kids!)
+ Are four- or five-star options (because you deserve to treat yourself!)
+ Will make you want to return!
Kelly’s Resort Hotel, Wexford
Before the Covid-19 restrictions were announced, myself and my parents enjoyed a night at Kelly’s Resort Hotel in Rosslare, Co Wexford. I had always heard great things about the award-winning four-star luxury resort hotel, which is 125 years in business this year. It’s a family-run hotel, having reached five generations of the Kelly family, which creates that special ‘home-away-from-home’ feel.
The hotel usually closes during the Christmas period, in order to get ready for the upcoming spring season and organise their spring events. The staff also take this time to make any changes they feel will further enhance the experience of their new and regular guests. So, unfortunately, they had only been open since February, before having to close their doors in March due to the pandemic. But I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to visit before they did.
When we arrived, you could see straight away that the customer is so important to Kelly’s Resort Hotel and they go above-and-beyond to making sure everyone has a memorable time there. Owners, and father-and-daughter duo, Bill and Laura Kelly, regularly mingle and chat with their guests during the day and at dinner time in the evening, instantly making you feel like you’re an old friend!
Kelly’s Resort Hotel has a fantastic location right by Rosslare Strand and its surrounding beautiful garden is filled with palm trees. It feels like being in a resort abroad, so it’s a particularly ideal reason to visit seeing as we won’t be doing much flying this summer! My room had incredible views of the beach and the hotel’s garden, tennis court and crazy golf grounds.
Kelly’s Resort Hotel has three main restaurants: La Marine Bistro, Beaches Restaurant and the Ivy Room Buffet. We had a three-course meal in Beaches that evening which was out of this world! I finished everything on my plate. Kelly’s source their ingredients from local suppliers and also have a ‘kitchen garden’. This is where they grow their own veg and herbs for dishes.
That night, there was live music and everyone was in such high spirits, up dancing. Then in the morning, you could recover with a dip in the pool, visit their gorgeous spa, or take a stroll along the beach! Kelly’s Resort Hotel is re-opening their doors on July 4th and is taking bookings now. However, they will be limiting bookings to ensure the safest possible environment. If you don’t book a trip there soon, definitely consider visiting Kelly’s in the future. I’d highly recommend anyone – friends, couples, extended family – to experience a trip to Kelly’s Resort Hotel, you won’t regret it.
Lough Eske, Donegal
My second pick is the beautiful five-star Lough Eske Castle in Co Donegal. I travelled there in February 2018 for a special wellness weekend with Yoga Mara (run by sisters Rachel and Hannah Healy) that the hotel was hosting. And it was the perfect setting for this.
Just a 10-minute drive from Donegal Town, the hotel is located along the Wild Atlantic Way, on the shores of Lough Eske. This makes it ideal if you’re looking for a quiet escape, but you’re also close enough to a town and plenty of sights if you want to explore. I loved going for morning strolls by the tranquil lake during my two-night stay and we were lucky to be blessed with clear blue skies – it made for perfect Instagram pictures!
Another reason Lough Eske Castle makes for such a blissful escape is its award-winning spa. I got an incredible facial while there and was then able to relax and unwind in their sauna afterwards. A great way to spend time after a yoga session. It was difficult to get myself out of there, let me tell you!
While there might not be organised yoga weekends anytime soon, Lough Eske Castle is planning to reopen the hotel and swimming pool to guests on June 29th. The gym and CARA Organic Beauty Spa is to reopen on July 20th.
I would love to go back to Lough Eske Castle for the reason that staying there makes you feel like an absolute queen or king! Aside from having an incredible spa and location, the hotel has a rich history and luxurious interior. It’s definitely a wonderful place for couples to escape to for some peace and quiet (if they don’t already have enough of each other after lockdown!) or even as a treat for your parents, a friend or family. The food is also worth getting a big mention, as the hotel’s Cedars Restaurant uses the very best Donegal and Wild Atlantic Way dishes, like ‘Roast Atlantic cod, kohlrabi, black olive, salsa verde and chive’. It makes my mouth water by simply reading the menu! Then you can finish off the evening with the best of Donegal beers (or gins) in the Gallery Bar.
Lough Eske Castle is currently running a Three Nights For Two Offer for two people sharing a Courtyard Guestroom from €455, with full Irish breakfast each morning and complimentary access to the swimming pool and fitness room (discount applied as 33% off each night).
Or, enjoy a special limited offer of seven nights for the price of five, inclusive of full Irish breakfast. Discount applied at 29% offer each night.
InterContinental, Ballsbridge, Dublin
The last time I spent time in the five-star InterContinental was during the Horse Show last August. I was a guest of a well-known developer, and we were wined and dined before moving across the road to take our VIP seats for the Aga Khan Cup. The crowds were swirling, packed tight, and in great spirits. Ireland had a chance to win this most prestigious show jumping event, but alas it did not turn out that way. Ireland trailed in some way behind the winners and the crowds left to drink more champagne in the wonderful setting of the several bars at the five-star InterContinental hotel.
How things have changed in a year! There will be no packed crowds at the RDS this August. What will be there is the InterContinental, and that may well be worth a visit.
The InterContinental was made famous (or even infamous) during the Celtic Tiger Boom years. It was then called the Four Seasons and outside, you would find parked Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the Irish super-rich. They belonged to the developers, bankers and builders who would all come unstuck in the great crash of 2008. There was a time when you would queue to get into the uber-trendy Ice Bar and mix with the movers and shakers. That time has gone and so has the Four Seasons.
That legendary hotel is now the InterContinental – an impressive 5-Star property. It still attracts the wealthy, as was seen on my luncheon visit last summer, but there is a gentler, less flashy side to the hotel now. And with the post-Covid landscape offering massive challenges to all city centre hotels worldwide, the InterContinental is, of necessity, reinventing itself again. Now it is offering a broad, comprehensive package that will attract anyone looking for a stylish stay in the leafiest part of well-heeled Dublin.
And if you do decide to stay, all the facilities match the five-star setting. The hotel’s guest rooms and suites are among Dublin’s most spacious, ranging from deluxe rooms to stylish residential suites, many with interconnecting rooms. You can take a dip in their 14-metre lap pool, or relax in the inner courtyard gardens and dine al fresco, in the newly refurbished Seasons Restaurant.
My favourite is the traditional afternoon tea in the airy atrium. And it is here I love to sit, just beyond the bustling hotel entrance, seeing all the comings and goings and people watching. Yes, the InterContinental has a lot going for it, and when events and pop concerts eventually return then you will find no better venue to entertain and amuse your family and friends, both before and after a gig or night out.
Check out the many offerings that the hotel is offering when it reopens on the week commencing 29th June, especially their THE GREAT ESCAPE packages for those looking to enjoy a night or a few of luxury and escapism.
For bookings, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.intercontinentaldublin.ie
Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore
One of my favourite places to go in Ireland is Cliff at Lyons in Celbridge. They have such high standards of care and you really get a personal service. For this report, I am going to choose a hotel that I have yet to visit but would certainly get my travel juices flowing. It’s their sister hotel in Ardmore, Waterford – Cliff House Hotel. It’s a five-star hotel and based right on the sea so it has amazing views. It has only 39 rooms so it is boutique which we really like.
I can imagine myself and my wife ditching the kids (sorry for the harsh use of words but, come on, we’ve spent months in a house together!) and spending the day walking the beach, enjoying a sea swim and finally feeling like we have some space to breathe. The food in Cliff at Lyons is exceptional and I have heard equally great reports about their Waterford establishment which has a much-coveted Michelin star. Ian Doyle is their new executive chef, originally from Carlow but most recently head chef of Oaxen Krog, a 2-Star restaurant in Stockholm. If we are going out, we are going big!
Some time in a spa is pretty much essential right now to fully unwind. Many areas won’t open until later on I’m sure, but they do have outdoor baths which can be filled with organic seaweed. I can imagine having a drink, looking at the view and imaging the past few months were only a dream.
I’m actually getting excited just writing this, to be honest. I can imagine the excitement of finally leaving the house and knowing we can really enjoy travelling in Ireland again.
A one-night stay in a sea view room with breakfast, a three-course dinner in The Bar Restaurant, a 45-minute outdoor organic seaweed bath and a gift of a jar of Lavender and Atlantic Seaweed Bath salts from The Well at CLIFF is available from €454 for two people sharing.
Check out www.cliffhousehotel.ie
Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club
Right before the lockdown, I travelled up to Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club, with my sister Laura for a countryside retreat. I have never gone beyond the centre of Belfast city and visited some of the more beautiful, secluded areas until that weekend. I’m so happy I did. The hotel, only a 20-minute drive away from the city centre, feels so far away from anything stressful. It’s incredibly peaceful and secluded, taking you away from the busy world outside.
To get a break from the real world is the reason we had arranged a spa session once we arrived. I opted for a full facial and Laura went for the full-body massage. But there were so many other options available, including a Tranquillity Body Ritual and the Comfort Touch Body Massage. For my facial, my expert therapist used the [comfort zone] brand of cleansers, peels and moisturisers which are all available to purchase at the Spa. I couldn’t believe it when my hour was up as I just melted into the treatment.
Once we were fully relaxed, we went straight into what would be the start of a day of food celebration with the delectable afternoon tea. We felt very fancy while eating off the three-tiered tray of cakes and sandwiches. We had the best piña coladas we have ever tasted, and were suitably serene when we sat down to order in Treffner’s Restaurant a few hours later. The lemon tart with champagne sorbet is a personal favourite dessert of mine. But everything was so enticing, that I even had two starters and was full to the brim by the end!
The next morning, all those calories were ready to be burned off! We had a workout session with personal trainer Mark Winters, trying out aerobics, boxercise and cardio. We were so impressed with the LivingWell Health Club, which offers up to 75 different workout classes every week.
After cooling off in the 18-metre swimming pool to cool off, we realised we were almost late for our golfing lesson! The Golf Operations Manager at Hilton Belfast Templepatrick, Eamonn Logue, who is also a PGA Professional, taught us the golf basics at the driving range. The driving range incorporates 16 bays, seven with an automated teeing system, a short-game zone and putting green. Laura and I went from barely hitting the ball to hitting it in style with the club swung over our shoulders and (a little) bit of height. For people with zero golfing experience, it was so much fun. So I think anyone with a good swing will be in heaven. We expect to buy some argyle sweaters and get back on the range pretty soon!
If you are looking for a quiet hotel, but close to the city centre, to relax or to tee up, the 4-Star Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club is the perfect spot.
Book Hilton’s Dream Away offer and save up to 20% off your stay. To receive the maximum discount, you must be Hilton Honors members, but don’t worry, it’s free to join when you book! This promotion offers 24 hours cancellation with no deposit required.
Terms and conditions apply.
To book or for more information, visit hilton.com/templepatrick or call +44 (0) 28 9443 5500
So we hope this list helps you with your upcoming staycation plans and remember to check online for updates related to Covid-19.
Make sure to follow us on Instagram @newproductsreviewed and send us in your favourite Irish hotels and where you plan on holidaying this year! Stay safe!