From sprawling country castles to elegant Georgian townhouses, jet off in 2020 to enjoy the legendary hospitality of Ireland
The Irish are famed for their luck – just ask any leprechaun you may happen to meet on your travels. But what the jet-setting globetrotters amongst us may not know is that aside from being exceptionally fortunate in the abundance of natural beauty; boundless warmth of its people and wealth of magnificent architecture dotted across its lush, green landscape, Ireland also boasts some of the most magnificent luxury boltholes to be enjoyed whilst soaking up the rich culture of this glorious country.
Flying direct from Dubai, in little more than eight hours you’ll find yourself in the Republic’s capital city of Dublin. And what better place to begin your Irish adventure than by checking into one of the city’s finest hotels?
Facing the Edwardian splendour of the Government Buildings and just a few minutes stroll from the National Gallery, National Museum, Gaiety Theatre and boutique-laden Grafton Street, The Merrion is an unbeatable 5-star spot from which to explore Dublin’s historic beauty and cultural highlights. Occupying a set of four stunning Georgian townhouses, The Merrion has been beautifully preserved and restored, with elegant décor complementing the high stuccoed ceilings, antique furniture and open turf fires, not to mention Ireland’s largest collection of private art.
Home to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, the only 2 Michelin- starred restaurant in Ireland, an award-winning spa and wonderful courtyard gardens, the hotel’s impeccably- mannered and utterly charming staff – which includes doormen attired in top hat and tails – have welcomed everyone from rock stars to royalty through its imposing black lacquered doors.
Waking in an enormous, cloud-like bed to an alarm clock chorus of seagulls is enough to raise an early morning smile, but an invigorating run around the nearby St. Stephen’s Green gets the blood pumping while simultaneously upping your cultural experience, with its collection of historic statues and contemporary sculptures to be admired.
Allowing for a guilt-free, post-jog breakfast fit for a king – or frequently a movie star at this particular property – whether it’s vegan and cholesterol-free or the full, locally- produced Irish extravaganza in which you choose to indulge, breakfasting in the The Merrion’s bright and beautiful Garden Room will kick off your day the gastronome’s way, leaving you perfectly prepared for a jam-packed itinerary of exploring.
A superb city to tour on foot or by bike, (which guests can borrow from the hotel, along with Merrion rain macs, if the Irish luck won’t stretch to dry weather during your stay) Dublin has so much to see and do, the choice can seem overwhelming.
If time is short, tap into the encyclopaedic knowledge of the hotel’s concierge, who will happily advise on all manner of sightseeing musts. But a wander around the vast library at Trinity College; a whistlestop tour of The Little Museum of Dublin; a peek into The Guinness Storehouse; a spot of retail therapy at Ireland’s most exclusive department store, Brown Thomas; a performance of Riverdance at The Gaiety Theatre and finally, Afternoon Art Tea back at The Merrion should inspire you to visit Dublin for much longer next time.
Travelling from east to west, continue your luxurious journey around Ireland in the county of Limerick, home to the magnificent Adare Manor.
Built by the Earls of Dunraven in the 1860s and transformed into a luxury hotel just over a century later, Adare Manor claimed a clutch of top travel industry awards following the recent completion of an extensive two-year restoration project.
Brimming with gothic splendour, the 160-year-old limestone manor house boasts the original breathtaking drama and grandiose that befits a starring role in any number of romantic novels, whilst the impeccable service, Michelin-star cuisine and imperceptibly updated technological advancements throughout the property offer the ultimate in 21st century luxury.
With huge stained glass windows, marble fireplaces, original heraldry and high vaulted ceilings that twinkle with 19th century crystal chandeliers, its virtually impossible not to feel like a fairytale princess as your explore the house and it’s rolling 842-acre grounds.
With expert-led falconry, archery, fishing, a championship-standard golf course, a luxurious La Mer spa and a private cinema, in between feasting on world-class, Irish cuisine created with the finest local produce, and meandering around the chocolate box-worthy Adare village, feeling like the true lord or lady of the manor is an undisputed bonus of a stay in this stunning slice of Irish history.
Moving back east to County Wicklow, Powerscourt House and Gardens in the pretty village of Enniskerry is an historic, horticultural sight to behold. Voted third in the World’s Top Ten Gardens by National Geographic, Powerscourt Gardens were designed from 1731, and boast a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes, secret hollows and rambling walks that stretch over 47 acres.
Situated in the delightful grounds of the eponymous estate, with spectacular views across a wooded valley to Sugar Loaf Mountain, the 5-star Powerscourt Hotel’s grand, palladian style boasts relaxed luxury in one of Ireland’s most famous countryside settings. Huge, classically-styled rooms showcase extra-large beds, separate dressing rooms as standard, and similarly spacious white marble bathrooms with extra-deep bathtubs for sumptuous soaking and integrated television- in-mirrors for the ultimate in bathtime bliss.
But for true luxury pampering, the hotel’s standout asset is its exceptional two-storey ESPA spa, opening out onto the hotel gardens and stunning Wicklow landscape. With an impressive range of treatments, a hammam suite, an excellent gym and 24-metre pool with Swarovski crystal-studded tiled floor, an afternoon of indulgence here after a morning stroll around Powerscourt Estate, topped off with an exceptional dinner at the hotel’s contemporary Irish restaurant Sika makes for a day layered with luxury, culture and top-notch lazing.
Departing from Enniskerry on the way to County Kildare, a stop-off at Newbridge Silverware’s fascinating manufacturing house and fashion museum, followed by a spot of luxury shopping at Kildare Village, home to more than 100 international designer boutiques is a must, while for racing enthusiasts, a visit to the Irish National Stud, frequented by UAE royalty, offers a glimpse into the glamorous world of thoroughbred horse racing.
Covering 550 acres on the banks of the River Liffey in the village of Straffan, golfing talent from across the globe flocks to The K Club, the historic, 5-star property home to not one but two Arnold Palmer design Championship Golf Courses. Hailed among the world’s finest golf resorts, and the venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup, 2016 Irish Open and the European Open from 1995 to 2007, the original Straffan House dates back to the 1830s, and was modelled on a French château.
Still retaining many of its original architectural features, the hotel is as unique and luxurious as you’d expect of a sprawling country abode, packed with magnificent original antiques and artefacts, and an incredible collection of artworks amassed by the current owner, including numerous famed Irish works, including a room dedicated to the Irish Expressionist painter, J. B Yeats.
With lavish rooms and suites individually furnished with one-off antiques and artworks, friendly, first-class service and the finest local cuisine to match, as a parting shot, the resort makes for some glorious memories of an exquisite, luxury Emerald Isle adventure.
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