Looking to skip the seasonal stress, dodge the washing-up, or reunite after months apart? Now’s the time to book a Christmas hotel break…
Christmas can be a very happy time. It can also be very hard work.
But what about outsourcing that hard work to someone else? Just think of it — waking up under sumptuous linens in a bed you didn’t make, in a place you didn’t decorate, knowing that you don’t have to brine a turkey or peel the spuds. And after the disappointment and unease around last Christmas, we’re set to celebrate this year in style (fingers crossed, of course).
While a few places have sold out their festive packages already, there is still plenty of availability if you fancy a hotel break this Christmas. The packages might seem pricey, but remember that the majority include a multitude of meals, usually with Christmas Day lunch and a buffet in the evening, as well as meals on all the other nights too. You’ll often have pre-dinner drinks, entertainment, Santa visits, multiple mince pies and the odd bottle of wine thrown into the mix as well.
If this all sounds right up your alley, here are 20 Christmas breaks all around Ireland, with prices based on two sharing. From city hotels to country houses, parkland resorts and cosy little inns, your Christmas search starts here…
1. Glasson Lakehouse, Co Westmeath
If you want to head away for Christmas but can’t bear the thought of leaving your dog behind, Glasson Lakehouse is just the ticket. With many a pup-friendly room (and acres of land for them to explore), you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your doggo won’t be overlooked in the festivities. It’s also the perfect spot for some festive cosiness, with outdoor chimineas and roaring fireplaces inside. You can even take a Christmas Day dip, be it in the heated pool, the hot tubs or even the lake, if you’re feeling brave. All the meals are included, from a three-course dinner on Christmas Eve to an epic five-course Christmas dinner.
Details: Two-night package for two from €1,298 (€120 extra for a dog-friendly room); glassonlakehouse.ie
Carton House, Co Kildare
Reopened after a grand refurbishment this year, Carton House is now a Fairmont-managed resort and a wonderful place to spend the festive season. The indulgences start right at the beginning, with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne and decadent canapés upon your arrival, accompanied by the sounds of the Maynooth Gospel Choir. On Christmas morning, you’ll wake up to a stocking full of treats hanging on your door, before heading down for a spectacular breakfast. A five-course Christmas Day lunch is served in the spectacular reception rooms of The House, after another champagne
reception. There’s even live jazz in the evening, alongside the traditional supper.
Details: Two-night package for two sharing from €1,800; cartonhouse.com
The Westin, Co Dublin
There’s something magical about Dublin at Christmas. You can wander around the city and take in all of the twinkling lights and window displays, then pop along to Grafton Street for the celebrity-filled Christmas Eve busk. On Christmas morning, the city is as peaceful as it could possibly be, making it a great time to see it all in all its quiet glory. The Westin has a great package where you can make the most of all of that from their super central location, and there’s a one-night break available too. And don’t worry about missing out on home comforts — you can tuck into turkey sandwiches by the fire on Christmas night.
Details: Two-night package from €1,390 for two; thewestindublin.com
The Brehon, Co Kerry
You certainly won’t be stuck for things to do at The Brehon this Christmas. There’s a self-guided walk in the Killarney National Park on Christmas morning, with a visit from Santa and a lavish six-course gourmet Christmas Day lunch (with the all-important buffet in the evening). You can also fill your days playing board games by the fire, or have a dip in the lovely Angsana Spa. There are two-night or three-night options available, which is great if you want to keep the costs down a little.
Details: Two-night package from €1,150 for two (kids from €289 per child sharing); thebrehon.com
The Galmont, Co Galway
Who says Christmas needs to be spent in the country? Galway is a fabulous city come Christmastime, and The Galmont celebrates the festivities in style. You’ll find mince pies, muffins, hot chocolate and mulled wine in the foyer when you arrive on Christmas Eve, alongside a massive tree and sparkling lights. And kids don’t need to worry — the chefs will have a big bag of carrots and some milk to leave out for Santa. You can even join the locals in a Christmas morning swim in Salthill, if you’re feeling brave.
Details: Two-night break from €840 for two; thegalmont.com
Castlemartyr Resort, Co Cork
If you believe Christmas isn’t Christmas without a hearty stomp around the countryside, Castlemartyr is a great shout. You can amble around the beautiful estate in the morning mist and say hello to the resident swans and hares, before cosying up in the main house. Christmas Eve will be rung in with a cocktail reception and festive carols with a local choir, and there will be a huge feast on the day itself. You can add an extra night on if you want to stay a little longer, and there are packages available for Twixmas and New Year’s Eve too.
Details: Two-night package from €995 for two; castlemartyrresort.ie
7. Hotel Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny
Fancy an adults-only Christmas escape? The four-star Hotel Kilkenny may have the perfect stocking filler for you — a two-night break “in a peaceful, adult-only environment” from December 24-26. The package includes a mulled wine and mince pie reception on Christmas Eve, evening meals and a sumptuous Christmas lunch (with a visit from magician Andy James). Family breaks at the hotel resume for ‘Twixmas’ specials from December 26.
Details: Two-night package from €898 for two people sharing (three nights also available); hotelkilkenny.ie
Glenlo Abbey, Co Galway
One of the best parts about Christmas is snuggling up to watch your favourite festive movies, however terrible they actually are. At Glenlo Abbey, you can watch them all in the hotel’s very own cinema for a real Yuletide treat. The rest of your stay will flash by with the usual delights, like pre-dinner champagne and mulled wine upon arrival. There’s also the St Stephen’s Day Christmas Table Quiz, if you like to celebrate the festivities with a bit of competitive spirit. There is also a two-night option.
Details: Three-night package from €2,598 for two (from €560 per child aged 3-12 years); glenloabbeyhotel.ie
Farnham Estate, Co Cavan
To really make the most of a Christmas spent away from home, you need to embrace a place with facilities you could never fit in your back garden. So, unless you have an award-winning spa complete with an indoor/outdoor infinity pool and variety of steam rooms, it’s fair to say you’ll be happy at Farnham. When you’re not dipping and soaking, you can stomp around the 1,300 acres of unspoilt countryside on which it sits, or play a round of golf in between the many decadent meals on offer.
Details: Two-night package priced from €898 for two people; farnhamestate.ie
Ballyfin, Co Laois
Can you imagine anything more decadent than a Christmas spent in Ballyfin? Often topping the ‘best hotels’ lists (this year it was dubbed the number one resort hotel in the UK and Ireland in the Travel and Leisure Awards), this country hideaway is the pinnacle of luxury. And, as you can imagine, its Christmas package is a rather special one. You’ll take a horse-drawn carriage around the lake and gardens, try your hand at archery and clay pigeon shooting and say hello to the birds of prey in the Falconry Experience. But there’s also plenty of time for lazing by the fire and dreaming of your next meal — the food at Ballyfin is out of this world, so you can be sure of a Christmas you’ll never forget.
Details: Packages have a three-night minimum stay, priced from €4,635 for two sharing; ballyfin.com
Hayfield Manor, Co Cork
There are some beautiful properties offering Christmas breaks with Ireland’s Blue Book, and Hayfield Manor is one of the finest. With extravagant decorations and an interior that is the epitome of cosy winter chic, this property is the ultimate Christmas destination. The package includes all of the usual offerings, along with a turndown gift each evening, hot port and mince pies by the fireplace on Christmas Eve and, of course, an epic Christmas lunch. Between that and the full Irish breakfasts, festive meals and buffets, you’ll have to be rolled out of the place at checkout.
Details: Three-night package only available, from €3,190 for two; irelands-blue-book.ie, hayfieldmanor.ie
Diamond Coast Hotel, Co Sligo
On the wide sands of Enniscrone, the Diamond Coast Hotel is a great family spot with plenty to keep everyone occupied. Check in on Christmas Eve and you’ll be met with mulled wine and mince pies, and there’ll also be a drinks reception in the evening where you can meet the people with whom you’ll be spending Christmas. Santa will be making an appearance on the big day, and there’ll be a Christmas movie screening in the afternoon to boot. Plus, if you want to leave the car at home, they’re offering a free transfer from the bus or train station in Ballina.
Details: Two-night packages are available from €838 for two people sharing; diamondcoast.ie
Ferrycarrig Hotel, Co Wexford
You couldn’t ask for a more peaceful spot to ring in Christmas than Ferrycarrig. Set right on the Slaney River, all of the rooms at the hotel have great views of the water, so you can fling open the curtains and drink it all in come Christmas morning. If you really want to treat yourself, get a room with a balcony to make the most of the setting, or enjoy it from the pool or hot tub in the leisure club. This package includes all the usual, with a visit from Santa on Christmas Day, and there are two-night breaks available too.
Details: Three-night packages are available from €1,110; ferrycarrighotel.ie
Ballygally Castle, Co Antrim
If you want to head away for Christmas but don’t fancy a lavish, multi-day (and multi-meal) affair, the option at Ballygally Castle is perfect. The hotel is offering one-night packages that include a full Irish but also a buffet lunch on Christmas Day. Which is perfect for those who, like me, eat roughly 23 roast potatoes at a typical Christmas dinner but would be too embarrassed to ask for thirds at an à-la-carte seating. There are longer packages available too, of course, but if you would rather a sneaky night away, this is a great shout.
Details: One-night package from £200 (€237); hastingshotels.com/ballygally-castle
15. Harvey’s Point, Co Donegal
Harvey’s Point has long been a Christmas favourite, but it’s always quick to book up. This year, though, they have a little extra space in the back pocket, in the form of the new wing that’s just been added. There are 17 new balcony rooms with gorgeous views out to the mountains and the lakes, where you can cosy up under a blanket with a coffee on Christmas morning. They’ve got that all-important Jacuzzi bath too.
Details: Three-night package only, priced from €1,858 for two (€2,080 in a balcony room); harveyspoint.com
Athlone Springs Hotel, Co Westmeath
This hotel is a great shout for families, with plenty to keep the kids entertained, like festive films in the movie room and presents brought by Santa. There’s even a Christmas elf who will deliver Santa plates to the kids on Christmas Eve, so the little ones can leave out treats for Santa and the reindeer. The indoor swimming pool is also a winner, with a sauna and steam room for the adults.
Details: Three-night package only, priced from €829 for two people; athlonespringshotel.com
Sligo Park Hotel, Co Sligo
There are three-night and four-night packages at the Sligo Park this Christmas, if you fancy a longer break by the sea. You’ll also be treated to candlelit dinners on each evening, with music every night too, as well as a harpist who’ll accompany dinners on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And if you’ve never been a fan of the big Christmas meal served too early, their schedule may suit — after a late breakfast and a light afternoon snack, the main event will be served from 5pm.
Details: Two-night package from €878 for two; three-night package also available; sligoparkhotel.com
Lough Erne Resort, Co Fermanagh
The food at Lough Erne is exceptional, so you can be sure your Christmas dinner will beat anything you can whip up yourself. There will also be Buck’s Fizz to accompany your breakfast on Christmas morning, along with mince pies, mulled wine and eggnog on Christmas Eve, with hot chocolate for the kids. Bear in mind that dinner on Christmas Eve is not included in the price below.
Details: Two-night package from £1,230 (€1,448) for two; lougherneresort.com
19. The Old Inn, Co Down
This beautiful little village inn is exactly the kind of place you’d expect Cameron Diaz to discover in The Holiday. With a thatched roof, four-poster beds and plenty of cosy corners in which to hide yourself away, this is the perfect spot for a charming Christmas getaway. If you fancy a spa break, its sister property Galgorm Hotel & Spa near Ballymena is always a winner, and you can stay in log cabins or the new shepherd’s huts if you want a bit of extra privacy.
Details: Two-night package from £900 (€1,059) for two people; theoldinn.com
20. Titanic Hotel, Co Antrim
If you fancy something a little different for Christmas, the Titanic Hotel is open for festivities in the heart of Belfast’s docklands. You can celebrate in a property steeped in history, and you can even upgrade the experience by getting a Christmas tree for your own room. There’s also a not-too-steep single supplement if you want to head away on your own, or if there are a few of you looking to celebrate together but sleep separately.
Details: Two-night package from €813 for two (or €555 for one) with €60pp booking fee; titanichotelbelfast.com
NB: All prices based on two adults sharing, and subject to change/availability.