Friday 24 November 2017

Destination V-Day: Top 10 Valentine's Day breaks in Ireland

Cupid Calling

No 2: Blissful peace - Newforge House in Armagh.
No 2: Blissful peace - Newforge House in Armagh.
Dingle hideaway: Castlewood House.
No 1. Adventurous: Inchadoney.
No 8. Kiln Wing, Co Antrim.
No 10: Delicious: The Old Convent in Co. Tipperary.
No 3. For spa lovers: Cromleach Lodge.
No 7. Foodie heaven: Forest Avenue.
6. Old school glamour: Glenlo Abbey.

Nicola Brady

From spa breaks to city slickers, Nicola Brady rounds up Ireland's top 10 Valentine's Day breaks.

1. Best for… escaping the kids

Whether you're hiding from your own or avoiding other people's, sometimes you want a break that's guaranteed to be kid-free. At Newforge House in Co. Armagh (above), you'll enjoy blissful peace and quiet in a gorgeous, pristine country house. Your bedroom comes complete with homemade chocolates and fresh flowers (and no little ones jumping on your bed). After bubbles, canapés and dinner, you'll be sent up the stairs with a "Nippy Sweetie" nightcap.

How: The package starts at £220/€287 per room on February 12.

Details: newforgehouse.com

2. Best for… adventurous couples

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No 1. Adventurous: Inchadoney.
 

If you panic at the thought of doing nothing but staring into your lover's eyes, then Cork's Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is for you. Come nightfall, you'll head off for a starlit kayaking adventure on Lough Hyne where, if you're lucky, you might catch the magical glitter of phosphorescence on the end of your paddle. Warm up back at the hotel, where you'll swap the stars for candlelight in The Gulfstream Restaurant. There's a spa treatment for you both included, too, as well as Afternoon Tea.

How: The two-night package costs from €359pps.

Details: inchydoneyisland.com

3. Best for… spa lovers

An outdoor hot tub, you say? In Sligo? In February?

Shiver not, because the best time to sink into a Jacuzzi is when the weather is frightful. The chillier the better, we say. At Cromleach Lodge, the hot tub overlooks the rolling hills around Lough Arrow, and the spa facilities inside are top notch. But don't mistake this country hotel for an austere spa - the food served in Moira's Restaurant is the kind of lavish fare that greedy dreams are made of. Yum.

How: Packages including dinner and breakfast start from €350 per couple on February 12, 13 and 14. cromleach.com

For the best Valentine's Day hotel deals, see hotels.independent.ie.

4. Best for… a sneaky proposal

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Dingle hideaway: Castlewood House.
 

Want to impress your other half with romantic surprises, without thinking up endless ideas yourself? Well, at Castlewood House, that's all taken care of. Recently voted Ireland's best small hotel on TripAdvisor, this Dingle hideaway will ply you with homemade treats like Dingle gin truffles and chocolate cake. And if wedding bells are on your mind, then avail of their Perfect Proposal package - a butler will whisk you away to a specially chosen site, where you'll be met with champagne on ice, a gourmet picnic and, hopefully, a "Yes".

How: Two-night packages start at €95pps, from February 14.

Details: castlewooddingle.com

Read more: Small Wonders: TripAdvisor's Top 10 Small Hotels in Ireland

5. Best for… lords of the manor

Fans of traditional country houses can never go wrong with Ireland's Blue Book, particularly on Valentine's Day. Romantic breaks call for roaring log fires, strolls around walled gardens and a bed just a stumble away from the dinner table. Cork's Longueville House fits the bill nicely - its Valentine's offer includes a bottle of bubbly in your room, dinner and a late check out, if you can't quite drag yourself from the bed come morning.

How: The Romantic One Night Stay costs from €169pps.

Details: irelandsbluebook.com

6. Best for… old-school glamour

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6. Old school glamour: Glenlo Abbey.
 

Can't quite stretch to a trip aboard the Orient Express? Well, you can do the next best thing at Glenlo Abbey, just outside Galway. The five-star hotel is home to The Pullman Restaurant on The Orient Express, where you'll dine in one of two original carriages from the luxurious train itself. The opulent tone is set on arrival in your room, where you'll be greeted by a bottle of Bollinger, no less.

How: The overnight package costs from €179pps, on February 14.

Details: glenloabbeyhotel.ie

8. Best for… privacy

Fancy having the place to yourself instead of sharing a hotel bar with other guests? You can always rely on Irish Landmark to find a funky little property. Try The Kiln Wing at Old Corn Mill - a converted mill right on the River Bush in Co. Antrim. Cosy up on battered leather armchairs as the sounds of cascading water flitter through the walls. Dreamy!

How: A three-night stay from February 12 is £305/€400, including light and heat, exclusive for Irish Independent readers and only bookable by contacting Irene at booking@irishlandmark.com or (01) 670-4733. irishlandmark.com

7. Best for… city slickers

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No 7. Foodie heaven: Forest Avenue.
 

You don't have to escape to the country for a romantic getaway. A break in Dublin gives you the freedom of the city - whether you're in the mood for a walk in the park or a sneaky pint. Boutique townhouse Number 31 comes up trumps, with its sleek sunken lounge and homely bedrooms. Twin a stay with dinner in the nearby Forest Avenue - it's fully booked on February 13, but on the big night itself will be holding a Chef Residency with Ciarán Sweeney (€45pp). Foodies will be in absolute heaven.

How: Nightly rates start at €220 on Valentine's weekend, including breakfast.

Details: number31.ie, forestavenuerestaurant.ie

9. Best for… budding chefs

Do your dinner party skills require a little honing? Avoid future meltdowns with a cookery course at The Tannery in Dungarvan. The 'Cooking Together' course is running on February 13, and will leave you both with the skills to cook up a storm at home. Book a stay in The Tannery Townhouse too, and leave the cooking up to the pros in the gorgeous Co. Waterford restaurant.

How: Rates on Valentine's weekend start at €115 for a double room. 'Cooking Together' costs €300 for two, including lunch.

Details: tannery.ie

10. Best for… foodies

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No 10: Delicious: The Old Convent in Co. Tipperary.
 

There'll be no contrived Valentine's menus here. At The Old Convent in Co Tipperary, couples will be fit to bursting with an eight-course Irish artisan tasting menu. And because there's only one sitting for dinner, you won't be hurried out by overzealous waiters. When you've polished off your second desert (and coconut cookies) then roll yourselves up to one of the lush rooms, where you might find a huge bathtub or an aptly named love seat.

How: Rooms on February 14 start at €175, with the special eight-course Tasting Dinner costing €65pp.

Details: theoldconvent.ie

#Travel TV

Looking for a dance with romance this Valentine's Day? On today's #TravelTV, we've got six of the most Cupid-friendly settings in the country. From secret temples to the remains of St. Valentine himself, see independent.ie/travel.

For the best Valentine's Day hotel deals, see hotels.independent.ie.

NB: All prices subject to change/availability.

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