Top 10 Christmas hotel breaks
Fancy leaving the cooking to someone else this year? Our reporter has some early stocking fillers.
Lough Erne Resort, Co. Fermanagh
If you're going to forgo the home-cooked turkey, you want to be sure Christmas dinner will be a winner. Rest assured, the feast you'll devour at Lough Erne will surpass anything you could rustle up yourself - renowned chef Noel McMeel will be hunting down the best ingredients in Fermanagh to produce a dinner that you'll still be dreaming of come summer. Work off the revelries with a stroll around the grounds or a dip in the pool.
How: A two-night package with full breakfast, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas day lunch and evening buffet costs from £235/€318pp per night. lougherneresort.com
Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Galway
A Christmas getaway can hit the bank balance hard, but there are some bargains to be had - the Christmas package at the Radisson Blu in Galway, for one. For €255pp, you'll get two nights away with breakfast on both days and a belt-busting Christmas dinner. You'll also have full access to the spa, with swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and outdoor hot tub. By Stephen's Day, you'll be rested and recharged for an amble around Galway City and its post-Christmas sales.
How: The two-night package costs from €255pps. radissonhotelgalway.com
Hayfield Manor, Cork
The key to a happy Christmas is having a load of cosy little nooks to hide yourself away in. And at Hayfield Manor, there are plenty of spots where you can curl up on an armchair with a book in one hand and mulled wine in the other. Nab a spot by the fire in the library and you'll have to drag yourself away come dinnertime.
How: The three-night package costs from €1,195pps, including several slap-up meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. hayfieldmanor.ie
Mount Juliet, Co. Kilkenny
You'll have to be quick to book, but a handful of rooms were still available at Mount Juliet as we went to press (Christmas packages are booking up earlier than usual this year - despite the often wince-worthy price tags). Still, you get bang for your buck at this gorgeous country estate. Live out your lord of the manor fantasies... and eat like a king at the Michelin-starred restaurant.
How: The three-night package starts from €820pps, including breakfast, all meals on Christmas day and dinner on Christmas Eve and St Stephen's Night. mountjuliet.ie
Brooks Hotel, Dublin
Christmas getaways needn't just mean grand hotels in the countryside. Christmas in the city can be just as magical, with twinkling lights illuminating the streets and hot whiskey practically on tap in the pubs. Brooks Hotel is just the ticket for a festive city break, and is offering a well-priced package. What really swings the deal is their cool in-house cinema, which will be playing festive movies for guests. You'll even get a little present, selected by the staff.
How: The two-night stay includes full breakfast, Christmas lunch and canapés on Christmas Eve from €295pps. brookshotel.ie
The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin
It's hard to imagine a Christmas more elegant than one spent at the Shelbourne. The decorations are lavish, from the resplendent tree to the floral arrangements (designed by the in-house florists), and you can enjoy breakfast in your own room if you wish to stay in your pyjamas, before tucking into a lavish five-course lunch or dinner later in the day.
How: A one-night stay starts at €325pps, including breakfast and a five-course lunch or dinner on Christmas Day. Two nights start at €455pps. theshelbourne.ie
Drum Gate Lodge, Co. Antrim
Want to escape the whole world this Christmas, without a single interruption? This Irish Landmark property is right up your alley. The beautifully converted gate lodge sleeps two, with room for a dog, and comes complete with a cosy peat stove. You'll be tucked away down a quiet country road, free to throw your own cosy Christmas or simply ignore the whole thing altogether. If you want to get out and explore, the Giant's Causeway is just a 15-minute drive away.
How: A four-night stay, arriving December 23, costs £436/€618. irishlandmark.com
Renvyle House, Co. Galway
Ashford Castle offers one of the most opulent Christmas breaks in the west (if not the country), but there's another option just as characterful, at around a third of the price. Renvyle House offers a traditional country house vibe, with turf fires and a gorgeous seaside setting (if you're brave enough, take a traditional Christmas morning dip in the Atlantic). You'll be treated like royalty, with canapés and champagne before dinner, complimentary afternoon tea and a hot punch reception.
How: The two-night break costs €429pp including breakfast and two dinners. renvyle.com
Park Hotel Kenmare, Co. Kerry
You'll definitely flinch at the price, but if you've got the pennies to spare then you'll be in for a sumptuous Christmas at this Blue Book pamper palace. As well as an abundance of meals (pack the stretchy clothes for departure), there's a full schedule of activities for you to enjoy, from horse trekking to yoga. Many Blue Book members have now sold out for Christmas, but some fab breaks for pre-Christmas and 'Twixmas' remain on their site (irelands-blue-book.ie).
How: The three-night, all-inclusive package at the Park Hotel Kenmare starts at €1,395pps, with arrival on Christmas Eve. parkkenmare.com
Farnham Estate, Co. Cavan
It's all about the spa at Farnham Estate, where you can luxuriate between aromatic steam rooms, saunas and a laconium, before a leisurely swim in the infinity pool. It's a far cry from family blow-outs over the washing up. The festive package includes a drinks reception by the log fire, dinner on Christmas eve, as well as lunch and an evening buffet on the day itself. Kids aged between 4 - 12 can come along for half-price, too.
How: The two-night package including all meals costs from €349pps, from December 24. farnhamestate.ie
Christmas hotel breaks are selling like hotcakes this year - a sure sign of economic recovery. Book the 'Twixmas' period between December 26 and New Year's Eve, however - or better still, early January - and you could bag a bargain. See hotels.independent.ie.
NB: Prices and availability subject to change.