It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
Irish hotels are heading into autumn and winter with most rooms lying empty - grim news, and unsustainable, but a situation that is throwing up the deals of a lifetime for savvy travellers.
Ever wanted to stay in a five-star? Now's the time. Pound for pound, the value in Irish luxury stays over the coming months is unprecedented, particularly in Dublin, where tourism is on its knees.
Five-star prices will never be "cheap". But if you book direct, factor in the 'Stay & Spend' incentive available from October, travel midweek and look at the full package rather than price alone - including meals, extra nights, room upgrades, late check-outs and so on, the true value starts to shine through.
Here are ten steals to get you started.
1. Dine in Dublin
The Merrion has B&B, a bottle of Champagne and dinner in the Garden Room from €350 for two. Upgrade to a superior from €410, or a deluxe in the Georgian wing from €485. That's super value for arguably Dublin's finest five-star, where a stellar art collection includes artists like Jack B Yeats, Sean Scully and Mainie Jellett. merrionhotel.com
2. Galway Getaway
The g Hotel invites you to turn over a new leaf this autumn (geddit?), with B&B and dinner from just €219 per room (or upgrade to a junior suite from €349). You'll also get a Bailey's coffee on arrival, late checkout and discounted use of the thermal suite. theghotel.ie
3. Go wild in Wicklow
Druid's Glen in Co Wicklow has one of the best five-star deals around - an autumn offer with B&B, a bottle of Prosecco and various dining, golf and spa credits from €155 (or €79.50pp). druidsglenresort.com
4. Kick back in Kerry
Sheen Falls Lodge (pictured top) has a winter three-for-two offer from November, including two dinners, from €650. You can upgrade to a suite for the three nights from €940. sheenfallslodge.ie
5. Northern Lights
Lough Eske Castle has a 'Discover Donegal' offer with B&B and dinner from €299 midweek or €325 at weekends for two. It's offering a 10pc discount on local stores like Magee 1866 and McElhinneys, too. lougheskecastlehotel.com
6. Capital Success
The InterContinental Dublin's 'Magical Moments' package includes B&B in a deluxe room or one-bed suite, with a bottle of Prosecco, from €279 for two. There's also late checkout to 2pm, access to the wellness area and pool, and a 10pc discount on spa treatments. The five-star also has a "daycation" deal from €150pp, including a massage, blow-dry, a file and polish, and afternoon tea in the Reading Room included. You can also use the pool, gym and relaxation area, with free parking, too. intercontinentaldublin.ie
7. Cliff Hanger
In Ardmore, Co Waterford, the Cliff House Hotel has a gourmet package with B&B and an eight-course tasting menu from €369 midweek - a lot of money, but an absolute bargain for both a five-star stay and Michelin Star dinner for two people. cliffhousehotel.ie
8. Play the percentages
Several high-end hotels are doing percentage-based offers. Cork's Hayfield Manor has 10pc off one night, 15pc off two and 20pc off three-night stays, for example (B&B starts from €224). Also in Cork, there are dates in October where you can book Fota Island Resort's deluxe suite from €287, using its advance purchase offer. hayfieldmanor.ie; fotaisland.ie
9. Date night in Dublin
Looking for added value for couples? The Fitzwilliam in Dublin has B&B plus a three-course dinner at Andy McFadden's Glover's Alley for two from €299. fitzwilliamhoteldublin.com
10. King and queen of the castle
Another tip for dialling up the value is to stay several nights midweek. Similar to Sheen Falls, Dromoland Castle has a three-nights-for-two offer from €1,050. That's a lot of money, sure, but it also lowers the €525 lead-in rate to €350 a night (or €175pp).
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