Luxe Breaks to Ireland

Ireland is a small island with a big reputation for it’s fabulous fresh food, of course Guinness along with breath taking landscapes and fascinating, friendly people. So opt for the lush green countryside, the ancient mountains and take in the dramatic wilderness or head off to the big city of Dublin packed with fun, history and culture

County Meath, Ireland

As the seat of the legendary High Kings of Ireland, the deep green pastures of this northeastern county are the ancient royal heartlands of the aptly named Emerald Isle. The racecourses may occasionally thunder under the fleet hooves of Irish thoroughbreds, but time – like the silvery rivers teeming with trout and salmon – flows softly through this land. You can explore the ageless charm of the Royal County on foot, on horseback or by hotair balloon; browse the stalls of farmers’ markets groaning with fresh organic produce; or happen upon ancient, myth-rich Celtic hill forts. And, once you’ve allowed the slow pulse of Meath to seep into your veins, there can be nothing more pleasurable than luxuriating with a summer picnic on the banks of the Boyne, under the long shadows of mighty Trim Castle.

Bellinter House County Meath, Ireland with Smith Hotels (Check Availability)

This gorgeous mansion turned hotel, less than an hour's drive from Dublin, has had a thoroughly modern makeover, bringing contemporary luxe to original architect Richard Cassell's stately elegance. Bellinter House's wonderful spa, attention to detail and mouthwatering food are the tip of the iceberg: this is no sleepy country stately but an all-mod-cons marvel with quirky-clever decor details and 21st-century trappings.

Get a real taste for local fare at Zucchinis; everything, from the Clonakilty black pudding salad to the honey-glazed pork belly and lemon tarte is made on site – no pre-prepared fare here – with Irish ingrediants; the chefs are so proud of their locally-sourced food they list its origins down to a specific farm on the website. Informal Room 8 on Watergate Street is an elegant cafe serving a delicious selection of gourmet sandwiches, salads, desserts and daily specials; they also make the best Java Republic coffee and cup of tea in the area and are open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin’s young and energetic population ensures there’s always a buzz in the air, and the city has no shortage of new bars, restaurants and boutiques to keep Liffey-side life full of surprises. Enjoy the 'craic' and a singsong over a pint of Guinness, wander the streets and take in the gorgeous Georgian architecture, or visit some of the many-splendoured museums and art galleries. Just outside town, seasidey Howth provides succour for those who prefer to stray far from the madding crowd; but you’ll find the magnetic draw of Dublin’s upbeat urban spirit – and the desire to stay for another convivial evening draped over a glass or two – impossible to resist…

Dylan Dublin Ireland with Smith Hotels (Check Availability)

 This boutique hotel in Dublin is Victorian on the outside and victorious on the inside; a rather austere exterior conceals playfully cool and modern interiors and beds you'll never want to get out of. The decadent Dylan Bar could have sprung from the combined imaginings of David Lynch and Lewis Carroll, and a night of cocktails here is a Dublin must-do. And from the Dylan's leafy residential location, Dublin's best bits are all within walking distance.

Run by husband-and-wife team John and Sandy Wyer, Forest Avenue (+353 (0)1 667 8337) offers a five-course tasting menu showcasing the couple's light, vibrant cuisine and scintillating Irish produce in laid-back surroundings. Patrick Guilbaud at 21 Upper Merrion Street (+353 (0)1 676 4192) is a mustbook; the eponymous chef’s Michelinstarred modern cuisine has made it Ireland’s top restaurant. Ross Lewis is at the helm at Chapter One (+353 (0)1 873 2266), whipping up tempting fare such as smoked loin of pork with a pata negra crust and Loch Neagh smoked eel with poached lobster. In the heart of Dublin's creative quarter, Drury Buildings serves northern Italian fare, heady cocktails and Irish craft beer (+353 (0)1 960 2095).
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