Review: How to live like a lord and lady on Dublin's doorstep
Short breaks in Ireland
Live like a lord and lady on Dublin's doorstep, says Fiona Ness.
10am: Hone your relaxation technique
The Johnstown Estate Hotel & Spa has undergone a major refurb in the past 18 months, but let your mind drift back to its 1750s heyday by luxuriating in an Elemis spa treatment. Afterwards, tackle the Finnish steam rooms, caldarium, and decompress in the relaxation room with a healthy treat.
Tip: Give your skin a nutritional boost with a super-food facial, before a 'deeper than deep' hot stone massage.
2pm: Relax in 18th-century splendour
With 126 bedrooms and 40 self-catering lodges, Johnstown House caters for all. However, for those celebrating a special occasion, the jewel in its crown is the recently-opened Lady Margaret suite. Named after the original owner's wife, it has a private entrance, sitting room, bathroom and bedroom, decorated in opulent splendour with a 21st-century twist.
Tip: Hotel chef Val O'Kelly has a special talent for bespoke celebratory cakes. Have him concoct a unique cake creation to greet your guest when you enter the suite...
5pm: Enjoy the salt of the earth
Pass by Johnstown House's traditional coach house bar, and those having dinky afternoon tea in the hotel's light-filled atrium, to create your own cocktail hour at the dining room's bar. It's constructed from blocks of shimmering, pinky-orange Himalayan Rock Salt, from which the hotel restaurant, Fire & Salt, gets its name.
Tip: Sip a French Martini (Absolut Vodka, Chambord raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice) before returning to the Lady Margaret Suite to lounge around and dress for dinner.
8pm: Have a rare treat
Share a steak for two at the hotel's Fire & Salt restaurant, which specialises in locally-sourced, dry-aged beef cooked in a custom-built charcoal oven. The meat - we recommend it medium-rare - will be carved at your table and partnered with sharing sauces and sides. And because dessert is a work of art, you needn't feel guilty about ordering that, too.
Tip: Choose from Côte de Boeuf (cut from the fore-rib) and Chateaubriand (from the centre tenderloin) to share.
Johnstown Estate is in Enfield, Co Meath. A Midweek Escape Spa Package for two costs from €279. See thejohnstownestate.com for more.