Wellness hotlist: Ireland’s top 20 spa getaways

Who doesn’t fancy a fancy spring break?

Adare Manor's new infinity pool

Cliff at Lyons

Glasson Lakehouse

The Rabbit, near Belfast

Fairmont Carton House

Galgorm's outdoor thermal facilities

Park Hotel Kenmare's infinity pool

Adare Manor

Adare Manor's new Padel Club

Ashford Castle

Radisson Blu Royal Dublin Hotel

Ice House has a smorgasbord of outdoor thermal options

thumbnail: Adare Manor's new infinity pool
thumbnail: Cliff at Lyons
thumbnail: Glasson Lakehouse
thumbnail: The Rabbit, near Belfast
thumbnail: Fairmont Carton House
thumbnail: Galgorm's outdoor thermal facilities
thumbnail: Park Hotel Kenmare's infinity pool
thumbnail: Adare Manor
thumbnail: Adare Manor's new Padel Club
thumbnail: Ashford Castle
thumbnail: Radisson Blu Royal Dublin Hotel
thumbnail: Ice House has a smorgasbord of outdoor thermal options
Lucy White

February, though a short month, can be a bit of a drag as we impatiently count the days until the clocks go forward. It’s a limbo month for some, the days getting incrementally longer – but those darling buds still a long way off from appearing.

But there are many reasons to be cheerful – such as treating oneself, or a loved one, to a spa break, while winter gathers its last skirts of leaf litter. Think cosy immersion in steaming outdoor bathtubs and to hell with the mizzle and drizzle; a spring-cleaning facial; a knot-busting back massage; and the scent of natural oils. Here’s our hotlist to inspire a true indulgence after a challenging three years.

Packages listed below are based on two people sharing, unless otherwise stated.

​1 Cliff at Lyons

This quaint big house estate near Celbridge, Co Kildare, is perhaps best known for its Michelin two-star restaurant Aimsir. But for spa lovers it’s the garden room and outdoor thermal spa, unveiled in summer 2021, that’s the highlight, with its free-standing copper bathtubs guaranteed to loosen the limbs before a masterful massage in the Well in the Garden spa. Lyons Heart package from €520 includes B&B, three-course dinner, spa treatments and bathtub treatment. cliffatlyons.ie

Glasson Lakehouse

2 Glasson Lakehouse

Irish hospitality giants Press-Up did a super job transforming the stale old Glasson Country House Hotel and Golf Club beside Lough Ree, Co Westmeath into cabin-porn chic. The Lakehouse’s outdoor heated swimming pool and wood-fired hot tubs are quite the USPs – but arguably the magic really happens in the new Brooks & Co spa, whose large treatment rooms are uniquely maximalist in design and all the more homely for it. Excellent massages and facials, plus a self-contained nail spa. Spa and Stay from €425 includes B&B, a facial, and a cocktail at Bonnie’s Restaurant. glassonlakehouse.ie

3 Wineport Lodge

Also overlooking Lough Ree is Athlone’s Wineport Lodge, whose serene setting has almost been surpassed by its recently unveiled wellness facilities – one in the form of steaming hot tubs on a pier beside the vast lake; the other, Cedarwood Spa, a bijou retreat for truly expert massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, seaweed and mud baths. Any Day Getaway from €240 B&B. Baths cost €55pp, hot tubs €25pp, and treatments from €60. wineport.ie

4 The Shelbourne

Dublin city’s grand dame may be 199 years old but she’s in rude health, not least her Spa and Salon. Georgian drawing rooms aren’t the usual setting for post-treatment idling, but here it’s just perfect for people-watching across St Stephen’s Green, herbal tea and fruit platter in hand (or maybe a cheeky Champagne...), after a brightening Elemis facial or a nap-inducing Sleep Ritual designed by Cork’s Péigín Crowley of Ground skincare. Fall in Love with Sleep package from €850 includes B&B, three-course dinner in The Saddle room, and a Ground Sleep Ritual in the spa. theshelbourne.com

The Rabbit, near Belfast

​5 The Rabbit Hotel

There are Balearic vibes near Belfast, in Templepatrick, Co Antrim, where a wonderland of rooftop thermal experiences is snazzily signalled by a giant disco ball, a swim-up bar and electronic beats. Guests are spoiled for choice with its warren of pools, hot tubs, salt, sauna and steam rooms, or can burrow down for skin and bodycare treatments. B&B from £170 with access to The Spa and a Private Duo Clay Ritual. rabbithotel.com

6 Cliff House

Watching fulmars plunge headfirst into the sea from heights of up to 40 metres is impressive from any viewpoint – but when seen from the comfort of a steaming hot, seaweed-enriched free-standing bath on a private balcony, it’s smugly spectacular. Ardmore’s Cliff House is exactly what it says on the tin, which makes for a particularly scenic spa experience, whether while basking in the indoor pool with its panoramic sea views or chilling out after a soothing scalp ritual or peat leg and foot massage. Cliff Spa Classic package from €524 includes B&B, a three-course table d’hôte dinner in the Cliff Bar, a Sea View Room, a 25-minute spa treatment and thermal suite access. cliffhousehotel.ie

Fairmont Carton House

7 Fairmont Carton House

Eighteen century Palladian pile or the modern garden wing? Where you stay at Maynooth’s Carton House – managed by Fairmont since 2021 – will depend both on personal aesthetics and also the price point (the former are more expensive). But wherever you lay your hat won’t matter a jot when you’re supine in its fancy spa – a converted 18th century mill building now fragrant with high-end Aromatherapy Associates products, or cutting through its handsome 18-metre indoor swimming pool. Spa and Afternoon Tea Overnight Experience, Thursday-Sundays from €575, includes B&B, 55-minute spa treatment, access to wellness suite, and afternoon tea. cartonhouse.com

8 Knockranny House Hotel & Spa

Guests at this picturesque Westport hotel automatically get access to its Vitality Pool and thermal suites – and its spring B&B offer that runs until the end of March, from €49pps, is superb value. But if you require further TLC there are treatments aplenty at its Romanesque Spa Salveo, plus mud and flotation chambers, multiple thermal zones and hydrotherapy treats. Two’s Company Couples Spa Package from €285pp includes two night’s B&B, one dinner and two hours of spa treatments each. knockrannyhousehotel.ie

Galgorm's outdoor thermal facilities

9 Galgorm

The only burden at Galgorm’s comprehensive Thermal Spa Village is deciding which steam room, whirlpool or chill-out zone to hunker down in next. Everything else is just pure relaxation. The Ballymena resort’s outdoor wellness facility is like a dream made real: a smorgasbord of indoor and outdoor heated pools, a hot tub overlooking an actual waterfall on the River Maine. There’s even a snow cabin set at -10°C, recommended for after the cosy sanarium, to help reinvigorate blood circulation and the respiratory system. B&B in a cottage suite at Galgorm from £190, including access to the Thermal Spa Village. galgorm.com

10 Center Parcs Longford Forest

The last time most of us saw a water bed was in a 1980s sitcom – but having once zonked out on one at Center Parcs’s Aqua Sana Spa, I might petition for a revival. This unlikely throwback is just one of many feel-good highlights at the Longford resort set in more than 400 acres of lush woodland. Aqua Sana itself covers a considerable footprint of 2,500sqm with 21 different experiences across four different zones, such as Nordic Forest (Scandi snug, sauna, aromatic steam room, ice cave...) as well as an arboreal outdoor Hot Springs area. Treatments are extra, but just flitting between tepidaria, plunge pools and open fireplaces is quite enough to reduce the blood pressure. Apartment Spa Breaks from €288pp, including two full days of Aqua Sana access, breakfast, lunch, welcome drink and €60 credit towards dinner. aquasana.ie

Park Hotel Kenmare's infinity pool

11 Park Hotel Kenmare

During the extended lockdowns, brothers Francis and John Brennan took the opportunity to revamp the historic hotel’s interiors, bringing a little touch of Claridge’s to Kenmare via the talents of local-born, London-based interior designer Bryan O’Sullivan. Only guests who have booked Bamford treatments in the gorgeous SÁMAS Spa can use its 25m lap pool and outdoor vitality pool, which adds an extra layer of luxury and discretion. Two night’s B&B from €650 includes fitness classes and guided walks and hikes. parkkenmare.com

12 The Heritage

Golf courses and spas are compatible bedfellows, whether that’s the golfer soothing their nerves after a particularly frustrating round or their partner favouring a massage over the fairways. The Heritage in Portarlington, Co Laois, ticks these very boxes with a plethora of thermal experiences and ESPA treatments. Restore & More from €225 includes B&B, a 50-minute spa treatment and a 60-minute Thermal Suite Spa Experience Journey. theheritage.com

13 Powerscourt Hotel Resort Spa

A twinkling, Swarovski crystal-lit 20m swimming pool awaits at this imposing Palladian-style five-star pile in bucolic Co Wicklow. As do signature ESPA face and body treatments, a hammam suite, steam and sauna, hydrotherapy pools overlooking verdant grounds – even a high-tech Gharieni Spa Wave System; a computer-controlled binaural and vibrational therapy designed to help aid rest and relaxation (€75 for 30 minutes). ESPA Retreat from €371pp includes B&B, dinner in Sika restaurant, 60-minute ESPA treatment and pool access. powerscourthotel.com

14 Adare Manor

Pre-pandemic, the superlative Adare Manor had what was a disproportionately small pool. But it met popular demand in 2021 when it opened the Padel Club which boasts a 17m indoor infinity pool overlooking woodland. That’s just the icing on a very luxurious cake that includes an array of thermal and hydro suites, and a spa inspired by the ancient Ogham alphabet in which each symbol corresponds to a native tree – in this case willow, oak, ash and birch representing harmony, balance, renewal and rebirth respectively. It’s a lovely touch – as is the expertise of its massage therapists and facialists. B&B from €650. adaremanor.com

Ashford Castle

15 Ashford Castle

Will Ashford Castle retain its status in 2023 of World’s Best Resort Hotel in the UK & Ireland 2022, voted by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine? If there was an award for Ireland’s Fanciest Indoor Pool, it might just win, for its Tree of Life mural and seashell chandeliers. Elsewhere in the spa – seemingly the lovechild of druids and ancient Rome – is a state-of-the-art hammam, steam room, and a relaxing terrace overlooking Lough Corrib. Mind, Body & Soul from €915 includes B&B, a bottle of champagne on arrival, three-course dinner, 60-minute spa treatment and nine holes of golf. ashfordcastle.com

Radisson Blu Royal Dublin Hotel

16 Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin

Don’t be put off by its unpronounceable name. Velvære (“vel-va-ray”) at Radisson Royal Blu on Dublin 2’s Golden Lane, has gold-star Codage treatments and gargantuan heated treatment tables which you won’t want to leave after a hot stone massage or a nourishing body scrub. There are more clinical options, too, such as microneedling, microdermabrasion, and LED facials – while the thermal suite includes a hydrotherapy pool, lifestyle showers, Finnish sauna, and steam room. B&B from €250. Upgrade with a Fire and Ice Facial at Velvære, €175pp mid-week or €190 Friday-Saturday. radissonhotelgroup.com

17 The Europe Hotel and Resort

This Killarney five-star’s location fronting Lough Léin and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks is an instant de-stressor in itself. However there are other wellbeing triggers within its ESPA spa. The pool alone – ambient-lit and with panoramic views of the lake – is worth packing togs for, while outdoor Vitality Pools, a thermal suite (sauna, steam, ice fountain, experiential showers, heated loungers and relaxations rooms) complete the relaxation transformation. Two-night B&B from €525pp includes one dinner, access to the 20m lap pool, indoor and outdoor vitality pool, thermal suites and relaxation areas. Horse riding on the grounds is also complimentary. theeurope.com

Ice House has a smorgasbord of outdoor thermal options

18 Ice House Hotel

Ballina’s River Moy and Belleek Forest are the considerable eye candy from the Ice House’s expanded outdoor thermal suite that includes sunken jacuzzis, a sauna and – if you dare – an ice bucket challenge. There are also outdoor tubs for seaweed, salt and mud baths, while inside is a gamut of light and quartz therapy rooms, and prescriptive face and body treatments. Two-night B&B package from €367pp includes one dinner, a 50-minute VOYA treatment and thermal suites. icehousehotel.ie

19 Lough Eske Castle

The Wild Atlantic Way is exactly that – rugged, windswept and can require many hours behind the wheel. This 19th century Tudor-baronial castle near Donegal town is just the antidote. Right beside the lake of its namesake, and on 40 acres of gardens and woodland, it’s an idyllic pit-stop before you even set foot in its sleek Spa Solís comprising treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, and an infinity pool (thermal suite for residents only). Revival Spa package from €415 includes B&B, three-course dinner, 30-minute spa treatment and thermal suite and health club access; Sunday to Friday. lougheskecastlehotel.com

20 Monart Destination Spa

Dress code: fluffy robes. Guests at the trusty Monart near Enniscorthy, Wexford can pad around in dressing downs and slippers all day, before dressing for dinner later. This slip-into-something-more-comfortable invitation sets the tone for hours of loafing around a plethora of hydrotherapy pools, steam rooms, salt grottos, mud chambers, infra-red suites and heated loungers, in addition to its treatment menu. Monart also hosts detox programmes and yoga retreats for those with more movement in mind. One-night B&B packages from €179pp include unrestricted access to the thermal spa from 8am-8pm daily. monart.ie