Romantic retreats in Ireland
‘When Irish eyes are smiling, Sure, they'll steal your heart away' ... and the same can be said of Ireland's legendary romantic scenery. An evocative landscape of sweeping lake filled glens, broad sandy stretches of deserted beaches and winding roads around a patchwork of emerald green rural countryside, that makes Ireland the idyllic romantic getaway for the two of you this St Valentines Day.
So for this month, here are Discovering Ireland Vacation's favourite five romantic retreats in Ireland:
There are a number of fabulous fairytale castle residences in Ireland offering a range of options. You could choose to have the castle all to yourself at Ballyhannan Castle (from $4744 a week) or sample the lavish five star luxury enjoyed by U.S Presidents at Ashford or Dromoland Castles (from $309 and $325 a night). But for charm, location and hospitality, my pick is Ballynahinch Castle in the heart of Connemara. Set within some of the most spectacular scenery of this captivating countryside, Ballynahinch is entwined with the lore of the land and echoes with old world charm. Lodgings (from $293 a night) blend country elegance with modern comforts and for that extra romantic touch you can request a four-poster bed or a lakeside view.
Ireland has an abundance of country Manor House hotels, some like Mount Juliet ($232) and the K-Club (from $397 a night) are world-renowned golf resorts, while others have the added distinction of historic character. Adare Manor, situated in the picturesque village of Adare outside Limerick is one such hotel. Set on an 840-acre estate, Adare Manor dates back to the 18th Century and is an architectural masterpiece of gothic turrets and elaborate stonework. Adare Manor boasts five star luxury and stay within the palatial rooms (from $272 a night) of the Manor would inject a little romance to any occasion.
Cahernane House is another historic country manor, set in the stunning Killarney National Park. Cahernane House was built around 1877 and was home to five generations of the Herbert Family who were related to the Earls of Pembroke, owners of the nearby Muckross Estate. Cahernane House is an elegant Jacobean styled manor house of the Victorian era, similar to Muckross House, with a modern but sympathetically styled extension. The rooms (from $274 a night) are filled with period furnishings echoing the historic character of the property and the Cahernane offers excellent value for money and is perfectly located for touring the romantic lakeland scenery of Killarney.
Taking the country retreat that one step further are places like Brooklodge in the Wicklow Mountain's and Sheen Falls near Kenmare in County Kerry. Sheen Falls is one of the most celebrated five star resorts in Ireland and was once the summer residence of the Marquis of Landsdowne. Set within 300 acres of private grounds amid the stunning backdrop of the Caha Mountains, Sheen Falls is a haven of restful luxury with rooms from $445 a night. The hotel boasts state of the art leisure facilities and a full range of outdoor activities, should you ever want to leave the lavish confines of the tastefully appointed guestrooms. Sheen Falls also offer two private thatched cottages within the grounds, should you want to hide yourself away.
Surrounded by the spectacular scenery of the Wicklow countryside, the Brooklodge is a haven of wholesome relaxation. Set on a purpose built complex, Brooklodge is 100% organic. The hotel's Strawberry Tree Restaurant is Ireland's only certified organic restaurant serving solely organic food, while the complex features an organic bakery and smokehouse and the pub even brews its own beers. Along with its organic credentials, there is an appealing laid-back tranquility at Brooklodge. The bedrooms (from $266 a night) have been laid out with contemporary chic and all the modern comforts you could think of, while the fabulous Wells Spa is a veritable temple for mind and body.
For many visitors, the Aran Islands represent an ideal Island getaway, these three island's out in Galway Bay are renowned for their rusticity and lively Gaelic Irish culture. But for the perfect getaway why not have an island all to yourselves? Horse Island in West Cork has three stone cottages, luxuriously furnished, to five star standards that can be hired out, (from $2019 a week) along with a renovated shipwreck - perfect for a romantic evening together. The island is a haven of tranquillity with secluded sandy beaches and stunning scenery, 15 minutes by boat from Schull.
If an entire island is a little out of your price range, a stay at the Islander's Rest on Sherkin Island certainly won't be. The hotel offers great hospitality and value with rooms from $114 per night, while Sherkin Island provides a fantastic rugged retreat with unspoilt scenery, sandy beaches and two pubs. The island is a short boat trip from Baltimore in West Cork.
If the thought of all this peace, serenity and isolation would drive your loved one stir crazy, then perhaps a stay in a stylish boutique hotel in a bustling city full of haute couture would be preferred. Located in the heart of Dublin, La Stampa is a luxurious boutique style hotel with an eastern touch that is sure to impress. A former Townhouse and Guildhall ballroom, La Stampa boasts interiors decorated by some of the world's most renowed designers; Miguel Cancio Martins and Sarah Murray, along with friendly and professional staff and an established reputation for top class food.
Overlooking the city made famous for Waterford Crystal, Athenaeum House is a boutique hotel mixing Georgian elegance with modern chic. Athenaeum House dates back to the 1800s while the interiors are very much in the here and now. The rooms from £213 per night are sumptuously furnished and some boast four-poster beds and freestanding bathtubs - perfect for romantics.
The Emerald Isle offers a wealth of romantic options and whether your eyes are Irish or not, they'll be smiling as Ireland steels your heart away.