Often the focal point for family get-togethers and the backdrop of many festive photographs, visiting a hotel this Christmas is also a chance to be inspired by its decorations and trees. Working the year’s top trends from metallics to multi-coloured and from fun to fabulous, these top Irish hotels reveal their tree-trimming tips and sources …
The Trend: Glamorous
Central to the buzz and beauty of Christmas at InterContinental Dublin are its decorations and floral displays. Determined to pull out all the stops for a memorable end to 2021, “Glamour and Sparkle” is the theme of the 20 trees throughout the hotel this year, all expertly dressed by the Dublin-based company Floral Events. Opulent red and gold baubles and bows are layered on trees, with presents in matching wrapping paper beneath (a clever idea to try at home!). Another key component of the decorations is a 6ft gingerbread house in the lobby – one of the main attractions for children – made by pastry chef Orna Larkin and executive chef Alberto Rossi. Having taken around 60 hours to make, it features over 1,000 gingerbread bricks, and weighs over 200kg! One way to savour the ambiance and take a closer look at the decorations is to book ahead for the Festive Afternoon Tea which runs daily from December 1 – 31 and is served in the Lobby Lounge or Library from €60 per person; www.intercontinentaldublin.ie.
The Trend: Sustainable
Style and sustainability are on the agenda at The Park Kenmare. The hotel tree was sourced in Kerry and is dressed with ceramic decorations hand made by the designer Sinead Lough from Dingle (www.sineadloughceramics.myshopify.com). The hotel echoes the trend for artisanal, hand crafted, wooden, recycled glass or papier-mâché decorations which are becoming firm favourites in many households. If you can’t make it to The Park, I recommend hotelier Francis Brennan’s Homekeeper’s Diary, €16.99 – full of tips, recipes and anecdotes, it makes a good stocking filler; www.parkkenmare.com.
The Trend: Haute & Handmade
Excluding the fully dressed trees that line the approach to the estate, visitors to Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate will find 28 trees inside. They are dressed by Marie Lally, one of the hotel’s co-owners, who looks forward to this annual tradition. So much so, she visits Paris every year for the iconic Parisian Christmas Decor convention to select new festive items to update and expand her repertoire of decorations. Rather than having multiple trees in the same colourway, at Glenlo each tree is unique and is inspired by the room it decorates. Multiple trees are now a feature of many households and this often allows children and adults to indulge in their different themes and enthusiasms. At Glenlo the themes range from classic to more contemporary styles in the newer additions to the hotel such as the chic Palmers Bar and Kitchen. Elegant garlands are also a key feature – all created from scratch by Maria and again dressed to match the interiors of every room. Why not offer one of Glenlo Abbey’s gift vouchers which include in The Pullman restaurant, to falconry and afternoon tea experience; www.glenloabbey.ie.
The Trend: Gold
At Hayfield Manor, Cork, its Christmas trees are designed by local florist Caitriona Healy O’Brien. She combines her own creativity and the hotel’s decorations which span many years, dressing the trees in the hotel’s signature gold colour scheme with lots of twinkling lights. The hotel is transformed into a warm and cosy haven which always smells divine too – Hayfield Manor has its own Lavender, Geranium and Tea Tree candles, €18, made by Celtic Candles. Evander Brennan, deputy general manager, says: “We welcome many guests throughout December who take the time to capture photos beside the tree in the lobby by the staircase.” www.hayfieldmanor.ie
The Trend: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Bonus points to Cork’s Imperial Hotel for being extra creative with its Christmas theme this year, taking inspiration from the much loved Dr Suess novel and hit Jim Carrey movie The Grinch who Stole Christmas. The team has carried this theme from exterior to interior decorations as well as in food, beverage and accommodation packages. Details include over-the-top candy cane curved Christmas trees, an elaborate Whoville Village-inspired display by the pastry team in the main lobby, artwork by animator John Bell, fun displays and signage which make wonderful photo ops for guests. There are also quirky Whoville and Grinch-themed cocktails served in La Fayette’s Brasserie and even a Grinch-inspired afternoon tea! This theme links with the trend for Christmas gonks this year – fun figures with knitted hats and long beards that can perch on steps, stairs, fireplaces or beneath trees; www.imperialhotelcork.com.
The Trend: Multi-coloured
Appassionata and Kasia Skopinskava have been bringing Christmas to The Westbury for many years, creating an opulent home away from home for guests each year. Beginning with the lighting outside the hotel followed by the scent of the fragrant Wicklow (living) pine wall installation at the entrance, this is complemented by The Westbury Donegal Turf candles inside (which are available to buy online or in the hotel gift shop). Visitors are immediately enveloped with the spirit of the season and there are more surprises inside, not least the show-stopping tree, trimmed with vibrant decorations reflecting colours found throughout the hotel, and twinkling lights. Tonal decorations are carried through to the wreaths in The Gallery. In The Sidecar, where a hint of glamour and sparkle is called for, gold wreaths grab the attention of imbibers. Wilde, meanwhile, is decked in even more greenery for a relaxed and elegant atmosphere. While in Balfes, the decorations complement the New York-style space, in subtle, striking colours; www.doylecollection.com.
The Trend: Nostalgic
In the past year, many of us realised how important tradition is, especially when restrictions meant we couldn’t celebrate in the usual way. That’s why this Christmas is particularly special and nostalgia will be a dominant theme as shown at Faithlegg, Co Waterford. While the exterior trees at Faithlegg are decorated by local company Every Event, indoors they have been trimmed by head porter Garry Pepper for the last 22 years. Married to the hotel’s wedding and events manager, Suzie, Pepper cherishes this tradition which marks the start of the season, and uses elegant restraint and a gold and red colour scheme. The hotel offers a range of lovely gifts too – from the Faithlegg Christmas Hamper, €100, created by head chef Jenny Flynn – to the two luxury candles with scents of cinnamon or clove and cedar leaf. www.faithlegg.com
The Trend: Luxury
The architectural enhancements to the new hotel lobby at the Westin Dublin opened up the space, which was originally three rooms, to create one large expansive area. The first Christmas tree for this new area is situated right in the heart of the reception area, standing 15ft tall with 3,000 white lights. The tree accentuates some of the luxury features of the new lobby, from the cornice details to the chandeliers and Italian marble floor. Decorations, including twinkling butterflies and ballerinas and glistening gold poinsettias, sourced from Goodwill Enchanting Décor complete the festive scene. An equally lavish gift is a voucher for afternoon tea for two for €98; www.thewestinhoteldublin.com.
The Trend: Traditional
The tree at Harvey’s Point, Co Donegal is dressed by the hotel’s Guest Relations Manager Eamonn Gillespie and the colour scheme of the tree is a deep red and gold which is part of the Harvey’s Point colour palette. The tree takes pride of place beside the fire in Isobel’s Gallery, a cosy space in which to enjoy pre-dinner drinks, and home to a unique collection of original artwork created by Zurich-based artist Isobel Gysling, the mother of former Harvey’s Point hotel owner Marc Gysling. The hotel has just added 17 new balcony rooms, each with its own private balcony with panoramic views of Lough Eske and the Bluestack Mountains – definitely worth a visit in 2022, if not before; www.harveyspoint.com.
The Trend: Metallics
Metallics, especially silver, are sure to take centre stage in many homes this festive season complementing modern, pared-back interiors. According to experts, silver helps bring the snowy outside in, without the freezing temperatures, while the addition of gold adds warmth and contrast. The g Hotel & Spa, Galway has aced this timelessly elegant trend, and its main tree is decorated by staff. The gold and champagne coloured baubles and bows tie in with the grandeur of the Grand Salon. Why not book a fashionable treat with friends with its new two-night “Fashion at the Flicks” package. This includes accommodation and breakfast, dinner on one evening, a chauffeur-driven shopping experience to Brown Thomas and tickets to the new House of Gucci film. From €250 per person; www.theghotel.ie.
A visit to The River Lee, Cork confirms it is aglow with festive cheer this year and central to the hotel’s decorations is its floor-to-ceiling tree in the hotel’s stylish lobby. With distressed metal bells, organic wooden ornaments, oversized baubles, crochet stars and warm white lights, this is a modern twist on Christmas plays. At Clontarf Castle its tree decorations match the hotel’s signature colour scheme in regal purples. Meanwhile in Co Wicklow, taking inspiration from its inspiring setting, Powerscourt Hotel & Spa has been transformed into a winter wonderland with 20 trees found throughout the hotel, dressed by Floral Events. A focal point is also its gingerbread St Patrick’s Cathedral. With plenty of inspiration from these local hotels, whatever theme you decide for your tree this year, I hope you have fun trimming it.
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