The ultimate winter to-do List: 10 ways to spoil yourself this winter
Hot drinks by a crackling fireside, bracing winter walks, tempting gourmet food, romantic candlelit dinners, reviving spa breaks, traditional music in cosy pubs, delicious afternoon tea .. winter in Ireland is an excuse to relax and indulge.
Here are ten creative ideas to treat yourself – or somebody else – this winter from Ireland’s Blue Book, the romantic collection of historic hotels, castles, country manors and restaurants around the island of Ireland. These great locations all offer authentic and imaginative experiences that will make this winter one to stand out.
Set against the backdrop of the Giant’s Causeway, the Bushmills Inn is quietly luxurious and the perfect retreat for those who crave the unconventional, but still expect exceptional service. Here, at this boutique hotel and restaurant, the fire is always lit and it’s a great base to discover Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery, the Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge or Game of Thrones locations. There’s now a private cinema – ‘The Still Room’ offering seasonal movies and popcorn.
Tankardstown House specialises in a good old-fashioned afternoon tea. Take tea and treats surrounded by rustic charm in the heart of the Boyne Valley. It’s a great base to explore Ireland’s Ancient East. The Tea Garden is a quaint, lop-sided cottage with odd tables and deliberately mismatched china with delicious treats and gluten free and vegetarian options available. There’s also a tea and treatment package available for a post-spa treat.
Not many people realise it, but there are two original Orient Express carriages at Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Co. Galway. This 138 acre resort is a haven for walkers who want to explore the rugged landscapes of Connemara and dinner afterwards in the award-winning Pullman Restaurant (the Pullman Restaurant is closed in the month of January for refurbishment). You can step back in time in a private booth or sit by the windows with spectacular views.
The Ice House is the perfect place to chill out in winter. From stunning contemporary design to the beautiful natural scenery, this boutique hotel has it all - there’s breakfast you’ll want to get out of bed for, lunch to linger over and dinner here is a great culinary experience. The spa is the jewel in the crown here and there are tailored treatments perfect for winter relaxation.
Irish chef Richard Corrigan is one of the best known chefs in the UK and beyond and has now “reclaimed Ireland” bringing his passion to the Virginia Park Lodge, Co. Cavan. This is a fantastic chance for food-lovers to indulge in the surroundings of an 18th century estate set in 100 acres of beautiful countryside overlooking Lough Ramor. The Gooseberry Gardens are being restored and there are group cookery classes available.
The Allen family at Ballymaloe are Ireland’s premier foodies and synonymous with the evolution of Ireland’s food culture. Ballymaloe has been popular since back in 1964, always reinventing but never ever straying from their authentic ‘farm to table’ philosophy. Dinner at Ballymaloe is a celebration of the best of Irish food and hospitality. Staying at Ballymaloe really makes guests feel like they are part of this extended family and one of the most special experiences, along with their many and varied cookery courses, is taking the chance to rise early to bake bread with Ballymaloe’s pastry chef on weekday mornings.
No. 1 Pery Square Hotel and Spa is a luxurious and intimate town house, with a cool and contemporary feel, overlooking the tree-lined People’s Park in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter. Its best kept secret, aside from its boutique wine shop, is the organic VOYA spa tucked away in the basement vaults. Sash restaurant at No. 1 Pery Square, referencing the most distinctive feature – the beautiful sash windows in these Georgian houses - showcases simple but elegant dishes, using old-school, time-proven techniques and local ingredients.
Viewmount House is a boutique gem and described as a “secret, tucked away in the heart of Ireland”. This magnificent 17th century country house in Longford offers open fires, beautiful furniture and a selection of Irish literature. The beautiful candlelit restaurant with a romantic backdrop of stone walls and linen tablecloths create a superb atmosphere in which to relax and enjoy Viewmount’s exceptional dining experience.
If you’re a hen or a mum-to-be or a new mum or want to treat somebody, Hayfield Manor, Co. Cork is offering the ultimate in great escapism with specially tailored spa treatments. From the moment you enter this 5-star hotel there’s a sense of luxury, with casual and fine dining and an indoor heated swimming pool and it’s a cosy and creative base from which to explore Cork.
There’s nothing more satisfying, romantic and relaxing than curling up in an authentic Irish castle during winter. Guests at Belleek Castle in Ballina, in the beautiful West of Ireland, can also enjoy a tour to unlock the hidden history and stories of the castle. It’s a place to eat, sleep, dream and play!
Visit Ireland’s Blue Book for more information on the range of properties or to order a Blue Book Gift Voucher.