10 Best: Christmas hideaways
Can't face cooking the turkey? Let someone else do the hard work this year. Here's our round-up of the best festive escapes
Hayfield Manor, Cork
Hayfield Manor has a modest offering this year: "The ultimate Christmas."
Whether the contents of its three-night package can match the wrapping remains to be seen, but arriving on Christmas Eve to a welcome plate of mince pies and hot Port is certainly a good start.
From there, guests can expect B&B with all the trimmings, including a four-course meal on Christmas Eve, a Champagne toast and traditional Christmas lunch in Orchids Restaurant, carols sung by local choirs, gifts from Santa Claus himself, and a jazz brunch on St Stephen's Day.
Fireside sing-songs and storytelling will add to the festive atmosphere, and you may even find a Christmas tree in your bedroom.
Details: €945pp for three nights. Tel: 021 484 5900; hayfieldmanor.ie.
Dunraven Arms Hotel, Co Limerick
Adare Manor is closed for Christmas this year, but that doesn't mean you have to scratch this lovely corner of Limerick off Santa's list.
The Dunraven Arms has an all-inclusive, three-night package featuring a five-course gala dinner and Champagne reception on Christmas Day.
Extra treats include hot chocolate and muffins on arrival, carol singing with the Holy Trinity Abbey Choir, Santa's arrival on horseback (pictured) and a walking tour of Adare.
If you're looking to venture further afield, the Limerick Races and Curraghchase Forest Park are just a short sleigh-ride away.
Details: From €800pps. Tel: 061 605900; dunravenhotel.com.
Parknasilla, Co Kerry
Imagine cosying up beside a fireplace without having to worry about boiling the ham, doing the washing-up or finding four million creative uses for leftover turkey this Christmas.
That's exactly what's on offer at Parknasilla Resort, where three-night festive packages include evening meals, a Christmas Day lunch, St Stephen's Day brunch and a healthy peppering of afternoon teas and after-dinner cocktails.
It's a family-friendly offering, too, with storytelling and games for the kids, children's Christmas tea, a treasure hunt and, of course full use of the pool and resort grounds.
You'll return full of the joys of Christmas, without having lifted a finger.
Details: From €699pp and €255 for children. Tel: 064 667 5600; parknasillahotel.ie.
Crocanoir, Co Tipperary
Self-catering can make a lot of sense at Christmas.
Renting a private escape not only takes the pressure to cook and clean off mum and dad, it also offers a host of new walks, towns and countryside to explore.
Crocanoir ('crock of gold') is a 200-year-old farmhouse restored by John Bermingham and his family over several years in Mullinahone.
Its five bedrooms can sleep up to 12, and visitors from as far afield as Guatemala and Australia have used it to celebrate everything from 90th birthday parties to CD releases.
The end-of-bohareen bolthole is now a four-star self-catering gem -- the kind of place you arrive as a guest and leave as a friend, as one recent visitor put it.
Details: €800 for a week's rental. Tel: 052 915 3117; crocanoir.com.
Radisson Blu St Helen's Hotel, Co Dublin
The Radisson Blu's setting in Stillorgan offers the best of both worlds -- a country mansion in four acres of green space, and a city hotel just a short bus or tax ride from the post-Christmas sales.
A two-night Christmas package includes B&B, sparkling wine and chocolates on arrival, a Christmas Eve dinner in Talavera and Christmas Day lunch in Le Panto, the fine-dining restaurant.
The oldest parts of the hotel date from 1750, and modern additions extend to a fitness suite and beauty salon -- for which Santa could surely be coaxed into buying a voucher in advance.
Details: From €285pps. Tel: 01-218 6000; radissonblu.ie/sthelenshoteldublin.
Ballyfin, Co Laois
One gift you may need to receive before booking Christmas at Ballyfin is a winning Lotto ticket.
Once that's sorted, however, you can kick back and enjoy what sounds like the most sumptuous Christmas to be celebrated on this island.
Imagine a 15-room Palladian mansion, the ultimate 'Blue Book' bolthole, inhabited exclusively by your family and friends.
Imagine meals served in state dining rooms, a library glowing with open fires, and a horse-drawn carriage on standby.
Cookery demos, wine tastings, music and dancing in the Ballyfin Bar are all included and, naturally, Santa will be along for a visit.
The entire house must be booked for a minimum of three nights, giving you and your pals the freedom of Ballyfin Demesne, and the price -- well, if you have to ask...
Details: €20,000 per night for up to 29 guests (€2,069pp, based on 29 people for three nights). Tel: 057 875 5866; ballyfin.com.
The Malton Hotel, Co Kerry
This old Victorian mansion, dripping in a Santa-like shade of ivy, fits the Christmas bill perfectly.
Step inside the former Great Southern Hotel, and the mix of roaring fires, old-world mahogany and a slickly refurbished lobby will make the washing-up seem very far away indeed.
A two-day package includes B&B and dinner daily, mulled wine and mince pies on Christmas Eve, afternoon tea on Christmas Day, a visit from Santa and oodles of live entertainment.
Killarney will be humming,, too, with its Christmas festival (christmas inkillarney.com) in full swing until January 8, and there's nowhere better for a post-prandial stroll than the neighbouring national park.
Details: From €525pps. Children sharing pay €81 per day. Tel: 064 663 8000; themalton.com.
Druid's Glen, Co Wicklow
Nowhere does Narnia quite like Wicklow in winter, so why not treat the family to a trip through the enchanted wardrobe this Christmas?
Druid's Glen is a five-star resort between the Wicklow Mountains and the eastern coastline, roughly a 40-minute drive south of Dublin.
Its three-night Christmas package includes B&B, Christmas Day lunch, a visit from Santa and evening buffet meals.
You can look forward to mulled wine and mince pies on arrival, and children under 12 share free B&B.
Details: From €366.66 per room per night. Tel: 01-287 0800; druidsglenresort.com.
Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Co Dublin
Fancy Christmas in a castle that won't cripple your credit rating? Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel in Killiney could just fit the bill.
Its one-night package (December 25) includes B&B, a Champagne reception and a banquet Christmas Day lunch from €225pps, and a two-night package (December 24 and 25) includes the above plus mulled wine, mince pies, carol singing and a table d'hôte dinner in PJ's restaurant on Christmas Eve from €345pps.
After the festive feasting, the King and Queen of the castle can repair to Killiney or White Rock beach for an invigorating Christmas swim.
Details: Tel: 01-230 5400; fitz patrickcastle.com.
All prices correct going to press. Offers subject to availability
Mount Juliet, Co Kilkenny
Instead of spending Christmas Eve slaving over turkey and Brussels sprouts this year, why not check into Mount Juliet Estate, where you'll be greeted at the door with hot Port and homemade mince pies?
Yep, we can think of worse ways to spend Christmas.
The two-night package includes a festive feast in the Lady Helen dining room, a traditional lunch and buffet dinner on Christmas Day, ongoing entertainment and the freedom of the winter estate.
Kilkenny is buzzing at this time of year, too, meaning a short drive will whisk you away to big brands and little boutiques in full sales mode.
Details: From €573pps. Tel: 056 777 3010; mountjuliet.ie. See also visitkilkenny.ie.