Hotel deal of the week: Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa
The Dunboyne Castle Hotel was completed for guests in 2006. The Georgian house itself, a grand old pile in grand old gardens, is wrapped by the newer wings which seem to stretch around most of the grounds and make for quite a large hotel.
Lush lawns and Georgian pagodas lend the traditionalists something perfectly genteel but as the package I was trying is priced at €129 for for a two-night stay including dining, my visit to the Dunboyne felt much more modern.
Apart from taking the wrong door through the old house on the way in, it was the comforts of the new rather than the charms of the old which made up the best part of my visit.
Perhaps it is because Dunboyne offers something for everyone rather than catering for a particular group that might have confused me a little. Though the layout and the atmosphere have their good points, I found my experience to be relaxed and quiet rather than bustling and busy. Weddings, banqueting and conference travellers are provided for with lush lawns, open terraces and plenty of space, but for this private guest the experience felt more gentle.
Glass curtain walls, walnut and dark wood paneling and vibrant upholstery mean that on the inside the new additions to Dunboyne are quite stylish and for the most part the layout is creative and well spaced. Once upstairs it might be felt to be a touch clinical. Though the deluxe double room was particularly large, the views were mixed but at this price, the generous room size and the fact that late deals can be had for as little as €20pps mean that prices are more than fair. Since my room came with the addition of a good ensuite I might be being a little too critical.
Perhaps the key to getting the most out of a stay is getting out and about. The Ivy Brasserie makes for a pleasant place to dine with the three courses being good value and the service excellent. The town itself has plenty of pubs and character and after a good night's sleep and breakfast I was pleased that I had decided to book myself into what became the real star of the show at Dunboyne, the Seiod spa.
Hushed, tranquil and set over three floors, the spa and the treatments are lavish, bordering on sublime. Calming massage areas, modern Rasul chambers, dry flotation and relaxation rituals would be good enough, but the outdoor hot tubs, hydrotherapy pools and saunas make the Seiod something quite special. By the time my hour's worth of massage was over I wished I could have stayed around for a lot longer.
My disappointment at not finding the spa sooner was one thing, but that was nothing compared to not having spent more time in the original Georgian house. Having been everything from a swaggering country seat to a humble convent and near wreck during its history, it is a shame it's not the heartbeat of the hotel but it is a very grand feature none the less. Stunning period decor, a sunlit library, winding staircases and a gilt mirrored ballroom left me with the impression that there could be much more by way of what Dunboyne Castle can truly offer.
What's the deal:
I sampled the two-night midweek break which includes accommodation in a deluxe room, three course dining at the Ivy Brasserie and breakfast on both mornings. The package is available from €119pps with Spa specials from €50 . For more information or to book visit the Dunboyne Castle website or call +353 1 801 3500 .
Room : 3 / 5
Food : 3 / 5
Service : 4 / 5
Atmosphere : 3 / 5
Value for Money : 4 / 5