With no overseas visitors, Irish guests have a golden opportunity in 2021 writes Pól Ó Conghaile
Feel like a treat after lockdown?
With no overseas visitors, this year could be a golden opportunity to check out the cream of Ireland’s hotels, tuck into some indoor dining before the masses return, and relax in the reassurance luxury can provide.
“I can see it clearly from both perspectives, as a hotelier and a husband with a wife working at home for 14 months,” says Rónán O’Halloran, GM of Galway’s Glenlo Abbey Hotel.
People have endured a lot and missed special occasions, he says — and there is availability. “Typically we would be very busy with North American guests from April to September.”
“We’re seeing people booking suites a lot at the moment,” adds Michelle Maguire of Ireland’s Blue Book. “Last year, it was noticeable too that they would do things like order a really nice bottle of wine, off-menu. It was like, ‘We deserve this,’ which they do. It also makes it really special.”
Luxury doesn’t discount, as they say, but this year’s value lies in packages with added meals, drinks and treatments (remember, the stay includes five-star service, breakfasts and access to leisure or thermal facilities, too).
I’ve taken a good rummage around, and while Ashford Castle and Adare Manor are leading in from a whopping €725 a night, you’ll spend less in city hotels, opening up an opportunity for a sneaky adults-only escape or a reunion with friends, combined with long-awaited shopping or gallery visits.
As always, book direct and look to midweek, June and September for keener rates.
Late cancellation policies are another bonus with hotel bookings, and it’s always worth asking for advance purchase rates (Sheen Falls Lodge has 10pc off those, as just one example).
1. €109.50pp (one night)
It took fishing around to find this one, but Co Cork's Fota Island Resort has B&B available in late August and early September from €219 midweek. In late September, it drops even further to €189 per room. That compares to best rates of €339 in peak season. Stay three nights and you get a further 10pc off. fotaisland.ie
2. €137.50pp (one night)
"Wicklow awaits" is the tagline at Druid's Glen Resort in Newtownmountkennedy. A reopening offer includes a night away for two with breakfast and a four-course dinner at Hugo's from €275. druidsglenresort.com
3. €174.50pp (one night)
There's lots going on at the K Club in Co Kildare, including the addition of a new self-catering option at the restored gate lodge, The Palmer Lodge. In the main hotel, a reopening offer bundles B&B, a €40 dining credit per person and 15pc off all outdoor activities from €349 midweek. thekclub.ie
4. €177.50pp (one night)
Killarney's Muckross Park Hotel & Spa has an opening B&B offer from €259 midweek. Include a three-course dinner for two from €359. muckrosspark.com
5. €185pp (one night)
The Merrion has a ‘Five-Star Steal’ offer bundling B&B, a bottle of Champagne and dinner for two in the Garden Room from €370. It’s available midweek throughout peak season. merrionhotel.com
6. €197.50pp (one night)
Lough Eske Castle in Co Donegal has B&B with a three-course dinner at Cedars and access to its leisure centre from €395. lougheskecastle.com
7. €235pp (one night)
Galway’s Glenlo Abbey has a ‘Pullman Package’ pairing B&B with a four-course dinner on board vintage train carriages from the Orient Express, from €470 per room midweek. glenloabbeyhotel.ie
8. €312.50pp (one night)
Dromoland Castle has a 24-hour ‘Castle Stay’ offer where you can decide your own check-in time and depart exactly 24 hours later. It costs from €625 per room, including breakfast. dromoland.ie
9. €339pp (two nights)
Cork’s gorgeous Hayfield Manor has two nights B&B plus a gourmet, four-course dinner on one evening from €339 per night based on two people sharing (ie €678 in total). hayfieldmanor.ie
10. €490pp (two nights)
‘The Dream’ sees The Shelbourne offer two nights B&B, a bottle of Laurent Perrier, Swedish massages, a Saddle Room dinner, oysters and bubbles on one day, lunch the next, and cocktails in No.27 from €490pp (ie €980 for two). theshelbourne.com
NB: All rates subject to change and availability.