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First Look: Ireland’s Blue Book reveals three new hideaways for 2022

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One of the bedrooms at The Wicklow Escape

One of the bedrooms at The Wicklow Escape

The Spa at Cashel Palace Hotel, Co Tipperary

The Spa at Cashel Palace Hotel, Co Tipperary

Browns Bond Hill in Derry

Browns Bond Hill in Derry

One of the dishes at Browns Bond Hill in Derry

One of the dishes at Browns Bond Hill in Derry

Chef Danni Barry at The Wicklow Escape. Photo: Liosa McNamara

Chef Danni Barry at The Wicklow Escape. Photo: Liosa McNamara

A watercolour of the refurbished Cashel Palace Hotel

A watercolour of the refurbished Cashel Palace Hotel

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One of the bedrooms at The Wicklow Escape

A future five-star hotel in Co Tipperary, a fine-dining restaurant overlooking Derry’s Peace Bridge and a Wicklow stay with the wow factor are the Blue Book’s new additions for 2022.

Cashel Palace Hotel, Browns Bonds Hill and The Wicklow Escape are the new properties added to the renowned collection of country houses, historic hotels and restaurants for next year.

The new additions bring the total number of member properties to 59.

The Cashel Palace Hotel, acquired by John Magnier of Coolmore Stud before the pandemic, is due to reopen after several years of refurbishment next March.

The five-star is located close to the Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary and guests are promised a “world-class spa, exceptional dining and a convivial Guinness Bar” with B&B rates starting from €300. 

“As a previous member of the Blue Book, the Cashel Palace is absolutely delighted to have the honour of being a member of this prestigious collection once again,” said GM Adriaan Bartels. 

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The Spa at Cashel Palace Hotel, Co Tipperary

The Spa at Cashel Palace Hotel, Co Tipperary

The Spa at Cashel Palace Hotel, Co Tipperary

The Wicklow Escape has been gaining rave reviews (read The Irish Independent’s take) for its transformation of a former yoga retreat into a foodie destination helmed by Danni Barry. 

Barry is a Michelin star chef, and the 18th-century mountain lodge has been restored by owner Lisa Wilkinson with seven rustic garden rooms and two-day, all-inclusive rates from €492 for two.  

"We very much look forward to welcoming valued guests to our unique culinary immersion,” Wilkinson said. 

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Another renowned chef, Ian Orr, is at the helm in the third new Blue Book addition – Browns Bonds Hill, a fine-dining restaurant overlooking the River Foyle in Derry. 

The Blue Book hails it “as putting the North West on the foodie map”.

Since it was first founded in 1974, Ireland’s Blue Book has grown to include not just luxurious country houses, but castle hotels, restaurants, manor houses and even a lighthouse (on Clare Island) and luxury hotel barge (the Shannon Princess, based in Carrick-on-Shannon). 

Here’s what you can look forward to from the new members...

The Wicklow Escape

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Chef Danni Barry at The Wicklow Escape. Photo: Liosa McNamara

Chef Danni Barry at The Wicklow Escape. Photo: Liosa McNamara

Chef Danni Barry at The Wicklow Escape. Photo: Liosa McNamara

"It might look a little pricey at first glance, but considering every meal is both included and exceptional (with copious amounts of wine), it’s a fair bargain,” Nicola Brady wrote of The Wicklow Escape in her Independent.ie review.

“This truly is a paradise for those who love their food.”

The Donard mountain lodge formerly known as Elbowroom Escape has been restored by owner Lisa Wilkinson based on an immersive, culinary experience concept. Suppliers are “hyper-local”, much of the menu produce is drawn from the gardens, and executive head chef Danni Barry (pictured above) has curated fully inclusive two and three-day gourmet food getaways with guests with drinks pairings.

Other eye-catching details include a hot tub under the stars, breakfast in bed, guided forest walks and views of the Wicklow Mountains. Seven bedrooms are individually styled, and the property is also available for private hire. 

Details: Two-day packages from €246pps. thewicklowescape.com 

Cashel Palace Hotel

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A watercolour of the refurbished Cashel Palace Hotel

A watercolour of the refurbished Cashel Palace Hotel

A watercolour of the refurbished Cashel Palace Hotel

Dating from the 1730s, this former archbishop’s home is described as a “landmark address” designed by Edward Lovett Pearce (the architect responsible for Parliament House on Dublin’s College Green), and sits among a glorious spread of gardens at the heart of Cashel.

Acquired by John Magnier of Coolmore Stud before the pandemic, a transformative reboot has been ongoing since 2017, and the five-star is scheduled to open next March.

Its hotly-anticipated refurb was singled out by Condé Nast Traveller as one of its reasons for naming Tipperary among the best places to travel in the world next year, and includes a new ballroom, 42 bedrooms (including eight suites) and a “spa bathed in light”. 

Already a Relais & Chateaux member, guests can expect high-end dining under Executive Chef Stephen Hayes, and casual fare at Mikey Ryan’s Bar & Kitchen, already open for indoor and outdoor dining next door. 

Details: From €300-€900 B&B; cashelpalacehotel.ie

Browns Bonds Hill

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Browns Bond Hill in Derry

Browns Bond Hill in Derry

Browns Bond Hill in Derry

Browns Bonds Hill was opened in 2009 by well-known chef Ian Orr and his business partner Marcus Roulston – the pair also run Browns in Town and Ardtara Country House, among other ventures. 

Local and seasonal produce is at the heart of the Michelin-recommended menus here, and Orr is a previous winner of Georgina Campbell’s Ireland Chef of the Year, among many other accolades.  

Guests can enjoy fine dining in a sleek, art deco interior overlooking Derry’s Peace Bridge, and experiences also include wine dinners, cookery demos and private dining.

It joins Bishop’s Gate Hotel as the second Blue Book property in Derry.

Details: Dinner mains from £19-£25 (€22-€29); brownsbondshill.com 


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