Looking for somewhere snug to hide away? Nicola Brady rounds up 10 of Ireland's cosiest places to stay...
Ever check in for a night’s escape and wish you could spend the whole time hidden away in your room? Well, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel has just the ticket, with its Duvet Day package. Your room will be kitted out with special bath oils, a scented candle and chocolates. And there’s no need to dress for dinner — it’s served in your room, so you can dine Al Bed-o. When you’re finished, a movie is delivered along with hot buttered popcorn and chocolates. Heaven.
How to do it: The Duvet Day package costs from €160pp, for one night with breakfast and a room-service dinner. ballynahinch-castle.com
If you like that, try this: Renvyle House (renvyle.com), also in Connemara, has an army of loyal fans who return year after year for its excellent food, friendly atmosphere...and open fireplaces.
Sleek, modern hotels are all well and good, but sometimes you want something a little more traditional. Sure, you might be sacrificing a state-of-the-art spa or high-tech touches, but what you get is the ultimate in winter cosiness. Hunter’s Hotel has been in the same family for five generations, and has that super homely, old-school vibe. Curl up on a chintzy sofa with a good book and a cup of tea, or get cosy in front of the open fire in the drawing room (some rooms have their own fireplaces, too).
How to do it: This winter you can find a one-night weekend break, with breakfast and one dinner, from €110pp. Hunters.ie; irelandsbluebook.com.
If you like that, try this: Converted from stables in 1798, Rathsallagh House in Co Wicklow (rathsallagh.com) will fulfil all your country-house fantasies.
Nothing warms your cockles like tucking into a big, hearty meal while the elements rage outside. ’Tis the season for comfort food, and The Olde Post Inn excels at it. “Game is very much what we do at this time of year,” says proprietor Tara Lynch. Which means you’ll find dishes like herb-crusted wild Irish venison, with a herb gnocchi and port and Valhrona sauce. Afterwards, roll upstairs to the old postmaster’s residence and drift off to sleep in a plush, toasty bed (complete with tartan hot water bottle). It's one of Ireland's cosiest places to stay...
How to do it: Double rooms are priced at €110, including breakfast. theoldepostinn.com
If you like that, try this: Foodies will be kept just as happy at The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge, in Co Limerick (mustardseed.ie).
At the risk of sounding like your granny, nothing makes you appreciate the roar of a fire like a good stomp around the countryside. And Castle Leslie is the perfect place to brave the elements, whether you’re off for a stroll or jumping on a horse. Stay in The Lodge rather than the main castle or mewses, and you’ll be in a handier location for dinner and the stables. It’s also home to the Victorian Treatment Rooms, if you fancy a massage or a seaweed bath in a gorgeous copper tub.
How to do it: A ‘Winters’ Nights Promotion’ includes breakfast, a bottle of bubbly, chocolates and €25 credit in the restaurant, from €80pp. castleleslie.com
If you like that, try this: Leitrim’s Lough Rynn (loughrynn.ie) has a fireplace so big that you’ll be drawn to it like a moth to a flame, and be hard pushed to move yourself come bedtime.
If you want to truly escape the world, a private rental is your best bet. The Irish Landmark Trust has some beautiful heritage properties on its books, most of which make for an ideal winter getaway. Take Batty Langley Lodge, for example. Perfectly sized for two, it’s not only a gorgeous period property but a haven of snugness, with a wood burning stove and heavy quilted throws.
How to do it: Rates start at €314 (plus €14, light & heat) for two nights. See irishlandmark.com for more.
If you like that, try this: With a location on the banks of Lough Corrib and six acres of woodland on its doorstep, Derry Quay Lodge (derryquaylodge.ie) in Cong, Co Mayo, has everything you need for a countryside minibreak.
Missing Downton Abbey? Fancy yourself as lord of the manor? A winter stay at Clonalis House will give you a blast of both. The O’Conor family are direct descendants of the last High Kings of Ireland, and they have lived in Clonalis for over 1,000 years. The house itself is the epitome of country home extravagance, with peat fires, four-poster beds, a library filled with antique books, and elegant drawing rooms... just the place to snuggle up with a hot whiskey or reviving cuppa. You’ll find it, and similar cosy hideaways, on Hidden Ireland — a collection of Irish country houses where visitors stay as guests.
How to do it: Rates start at €176, including breakfast, at Clonalis. hiddenireland.com
If you like that, try this: Hilton Park in Co Monaghan (hiltonpark.ie) is delightfully eccentric, with beautiful period furniture and some rather stunning freestanding bathtubs.
You can always rely on Ireland’s Blue Book for a top-notch getaway. It’s where you’ll find impeccable properties for a dreamy break at home; like Bushmills Inn. Here is a hotel just perfect for a winter sojourn, with an original gas-lit bar, cosy nooks and crannies and, of course, a hefty supply of whiskey (including its own private malt). It even has its own cinema where, on Thursdays, you can sit back and enjoy festive favourites like Meet Me in St Louis and It’s a Wonderful Life.
How to do it: Bushmills Inn’s ‘Romance At The Inn’ package includes prosecco, chocolate dipped strawberries, dinner and breakfast, from £188/€221. irelandsbluebook.com
If you like that, try this: Get a dose of Atlantic sea breeze at The Moorings in Portmagee, Co Kerry (moorings.ie) before devouring a bowl of chowder, relaxing in the bar, and staying right upstairs.
It’s been voted Georgina Campbell’s Farmhouse of the Year 2017, so you know Killiane Castle has some serious kudos. They’ve really amped up the hygge factor for the winter, too — your bed will be kept toasty and warm with an electric blanket, and you can nibble on homemade biscuits by the fire in the sitting room. But save some room for breakfast — the Mernagh family serve their own sausages and bacon from the farm, and eggs from their hens, too.
How to do it: Rates start at €60pp, including breakfast. killianecastle.com
If you like that, try this: As well as gorgeous rooms, Coopershill House (coopershill.ie) in Sligo serves vegetables from its garden, and venison from the O’Hara family’s very own fallow deer.
A cosy winter break needn’t mean the city is off limits. The Cliff Townhouse is smack bang in the middle of Dublin, with some rooms overlooking Stephen’s Green. You’ll find Donegal tweed blankets on the beds, vintage furniture in the corners and old marble fireplaces. Downstairs is one of the best seafood restaurants in town, as well as a stellar oyster & Champagne bar. After a frosty-breathed saunter around the city, and a good slurp, you only need to toddle upstairs to a cloud-like bed. Bliss.
How to do it: Room rates start at €170, including breakfast. theclifftownhouse.com
If you like that, try this: Another townhouse in the city, Number 31 (number31.ie), has a cracking sunken lounge hidden in its modernist mews.
If you’re looking for a remote and romantic spot, then Castle Murray House fits the bill. Overlooking McSwyne’s Bay, from St John’s Point in Donegal, its windows offer views of waves crashing ashore while you feast on dinner, cosy up in a boutique bedroom, or sip on a hot whiskey. As you would expect, the seafood is exceptional — try the Natural Inver Bay Oysters with a shot of Guinness. Little wonder Travel + Leisure once named it one of the world’s most romantic hotels.
How to do it: Midweek rates start at €60pp, including breakfast, with a four-course dinner menu priced at €51pp. castlemurray.com
If you like that, try this: You’ll get another dose of the Atlantic at Gorman’s Clifftop House (gormans-clifftop house.com), right on the north-western edge of the Dingle Peninsula.
NB: Prices subject to availability
Have you got a few days of leave left? Take a Monday off and book a Sunday night break. You can often swing a massive bargain, and the long weekend means you’ll be relaxed before you even check in.