Review: Kick off the festive season with a trip to this elegant Dublin hotel
Short breaks in Ireland
Christmas is fast approaching, and the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel is the perfect festive destination, says Catherine Devine.
Set the mood
The Christmas spirit has hit Stillorgan. Swing by at this time of year, and you'll find the Radisson Blu St. Helen's - based around an historic, 18th century mansion house - transformed to resemble a dreamy winter wonderland scene.
Glistening fairy lights, enchanted decorations and the most glamorous of settings in four acres of stunning gardens - it's the perfect escape from winter madness.
That's not all. The hotel has just wrapped €6 million worth of renovations, including the refurbishment of 125 bedrooms and 26 suites, upgrading of outdoor spaces and heated al fresco seating at its Italian restaurant.
On arrival, visitors can warm up in the bar with a hot whiskey or a luxurious hot chocolate while taking in the refurbs and Christmas decorations.
That's exactly what we did.
Treat yourself to afternoon tea in the Orangerie Bar and Ballroom Lounge.
As you take in views of Christmas garlands embracing the open fireplace, you can enjoy a range of treats - Lady Gough’s Afternoon Tea starts at €28.95pp, for example, but to really add something special to your stay you can add on a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne for €39.95 per person. The afternoon tea oozes elegance.
Take a walk around the beautiful gardens. They stretch over four acres and have been upgraded as part of the hotel's €6m investment (outdoor spaces now have increased heating, additional seating and leisure areas).
We took a stroll around the lit-up gardens, but as it began to get cold the 'Winter Warmer' menu came to our rescue. From hot chocolate mugs stuffed with marshmallows to gin-themed cocktails and mulled wine, we soon warmed up on the heated terrace.
The Leopardstown Racecourse is only five minutes from the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel. This Christmas you could treat yourself to a race day package starting at €99 per person.
From December 26 to December 29, the hotel is offering an exclusive package including race day entry tickets and a one night stay at the hotel. The package also includes transfer to the Leopardstown race course and a breakfast buffet.
We booked dinner for two at the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Talavera. Its traditional food includes a buffet for starters and a seasonal a la carte menu (mains range from €17.50 to €32), or a Table d'Hote dinner menu (three courses at €37.50pp), and staff are happy to enhance your meal with a wine recommendation.
As we wanted some privacy away from larger parties, we booked a table at the private dining area that can accommodate groups of 15 or more.
We started with the buffet (I had to remind myself to save room for a main of spaghetti Bolognese), finishing up with a desert buffet, which included everything from chocolates to creme brulee. Topped with a bottle of wine, the meal was one to remember!
The new hotel renovation has also seen the addition of heated outdoor seating which allows guests to dine al fresco and enjoy the beautiful grounds.
While the 125 bedrooms have recently been renovated, the rooms are not soundproof. During our stay, our room was next to a family celebrating a christening and it was noisy at night time. We also had a shared balcony with the party room so every time they were outside we had to close our window to keep out the noise. If you want a quiet night, as with any hotel, be sure to ask about your room with reception on check-in.
Get me there
The Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel is about a 25-minute drive (or bus ride) from Dublin City Centre, and also convenient to Dundrum Town Centre.
Room prices start at €99 including dinner and breakfast. Call 01 218-6000 or visit radissonblu.com/en/sthelenshotel-dublin for more.