Care for a breakfast box delivered to your room? What about a pizza or yoga lesson at your wilderness stay?
Travelling the island to compile this year’s fab 50, our list of the best places to stay in Ireland 2022, gave us a unique sense of how Irish stays are changing and reimagining their offers as we emerge from Covid.
Here are just a few fun trends to watch...
1. Homes away from home
Many of us upgraded our homes during lockdown, and hotels and guesthouses are reflecting that as they refurb.
Good coffee, Netflix, wine coolers, quality showers and fresh milk in rooms are all touches that add both luxury and home comforts.
In Co Wexford’s Thistledown Lodge, a new boutique B&B on the Hook Peninsula (above), there's a bath in one of the guestrooms. At Co Donegal’s Rockhill House, designers were even briefed to keep the feel of a family home.
2. Breakfast boxes and trays
Breakfast buffets were a casualty of Covid, as hotels scrambled to introduce social distancing and reduce touch points. Some hotels are bringing them back; others finding creative ways to elevate morning meals.
At Hotel67 in Killarney or the Wild Rooms in Co Wexford, for example, breakfast boxes can be delivered to your door.
Afternoon tea-style tiered trays stacked with scones, smoothies, fruits and granolas at Dingle’s Pax House and Co Clare’s Doolin Inn are another example — adding a little theatre while controlling portions and allowing for day-to-day variation.
“Breakfast has become such a luxury,” says Doolin Inn’s Anthony Moloney. “It’s a real treat.”
3. Adults only!
We all love kids. But sometimes parents need a night away, and a small but growing number of properties (Wexford’s Wild Rooms, for example) are catering for that. Others, like Pax House, Clonalis House and Haddington House, cater for older children.
Creating smaller branded stays or exclusive floors within larger resorts has been relatively rare in Ireland. That could change, with larger properties like Carton House and Tulfarris pitching their old manors as hotels-within-hotels, and the Gleneagle’s new Hotel67 breathing new life into a previously hidden section of its resort. Its 24 rooms were formerly used as office and storage space.
5. Upcycling the ante
Headboards made from church organs at the Old Inn in Crawfordsburn. The former reception desk of Dublin’s Berkeley Court Hotel re-appearing at Lawlor’s of Naas. A coffee table made from part of an airplane engine, itself rescued from a retail display, in Thistledown Lodge, Co Wexford.
Upcycling is going up a gear, and given how costs are rising across the board, that makes as much economic as environmental sense. “It’s great not throwing things out,” as Catherine Dundon of Dunbrody House puts it.
6. Petite resorts
Done with sprawling, impersonal resorts? Scale down with more intimate, individual hideaways like Bancran School – above, featuring four glamping accommodations in Co Derry - Dromquinna with its tents, lodges and self-catering in Co Kerry, or the revamped manor, lodge and mews stays at Liss Ard in West Cork.
These thoughtfully-curated oases reflect the imaginations and ethos of their owners, with private and communal areas, often bathed in nature.
7. Next-level lodges
Forest stays like Center Parcs and Cabu by the Lakes, combined with a growing trend for immersions in nature, have propelled Irish lodges to a whole new level. From hangouts with hot tubs at Killyhevlin to Drumhierny Woodland Hideaway (where many fittings are made from fallen timber), rustic living never felt so fancy.
8. State of the art
The use of local and Irish artists to elevate bedrooms, hallways and public areas is blooming. From curated contemporary artists in Press-Up hotels like The Dean to works at Arthaus in Dublin paying tribute to Mainie Jellett and Mary Swanzy, or smaller stays like Lagom commissioning local artists, it adds colour, a sense of place, and supports our creative community.
9. Terrific terraces
Pandemic lockdowns and the boom in outdoor living has bumped terraces up a gear, from big plays like The Montenotte’s €1m rooftop bar to small stays such as the patio in June Blake’s garden. Given our newfound love for the outdoors, and reconnections with nature, let’s hope these al fresco living areas keep evolving.
10. Sustainability slips
Sustainability is central to our Fab 50, but we’re finding a surprising number of stays have let standards slip — from mini-toiletries to a basic lack of recycling or Green Teams. Covid can be blamed, but with costs rising, the race for renewables and more sustainable stays is more urgent than ever. Let’s get back on track!
Read this year’s Fab 50 here.