The buzz word in hospitality this year was “mindful luxury” with staycations prioritising pampering, personalised stays and privacy. These new hotels didn’t disappoint, proving that the Irish hospitality sector is not only surviving but thriving …
Carton House, Co Kildare
Ok, in theory it’s not an entirely new hotel but after a two-year multimillion euro refurbishment (carried out under the creative guidance of McCauley Daye O’Connell Architects) the hotel reopened this year and is now a Fairmont-owned property. The reinvigorated property has channelled its ancestral past (it was once the home of the Earls of Kildare and the Dukes of Leinster) and is a polished and elegant escape. Decoristas will appreciate the tongue and groove lining and panelling, stucco plasterwork ceilings, log fires, carefully preserved Delft tiling, antique glass windowpanes, decorative china, William Morris upholstery and bespoke wallpapers, while hotel afficionados will notice the meticulous attention to detail and seamless service. Do book afternoon tea in the Gold Salon, or dinner in the Morrison Room – both offer exquisite views inside and out – for a flavour of this magnificent property; www.fairmont.com.
Wren Urban Nest, Dublin
Snug, stylish, and sustainable – this hotel opening from Moran Hospitality is faultless. Designed by BDP architects, the hotel believes in taking “little steps” towards a better planet – by not burning any fossil fuels and installing a heating system using sustainable technology. It’s the first hotel in Ireland to comply with the World Green Building Council’s definition of “Net Zero Carbon” without having to purchase carbon offsets. That all means that guests can enjoy luxury without feeling guilty. “We believe big hotel rooms are overrated,” declares the hotel website and there are 137 rooms spread across nine floors divided into three categories: snug nest (10 sqm), cosy (12 sqm) and roomy nests (18 sqm). I have stayed several times in a cosy nest on the seventh floor and loved the compact, design led Scandi vibe of the rooms (and The Handmade Soap Co toiletries). And the atmosphere? As intimate and exclusive as a private club but without the leather armchairs and cigars. On my visits, guests were sipping cocktails, browsing the excellent selection of coffee table books, and listening to cool tunes in the communal ALT Café Bar (where breakfast and lunch is served). My style takeaways: the use of natural materials, softened by pampas and pot plants, bathes the interiors in a golden hue, and makes it feel warm and inviting; www.wrenhotel.ie.
Glasson Lakehouse, Co Westmeath
The Press Up group has been busy – hot on the heels of opening The Dean Cork came Glasson Lakehouse – formerly a discreet golf resort in Westmeath, which the group acquired for a reported €9m. The hotel is now a funky four-star resort overlooking Lough Ree bearing all the hallmarks of other Press Up hotels such as The Devlin or Mayson – bold Irish art, hip young staff, neon signs, in-room Munchie Trays and a priority on comfort. Land and lake activities available include boat tours, kayaking, golfing, or cycling. There’s also an outdoor pool (heated all year round) and three hot tubs located beside a sunken terrace. If you are craving a ski holiday minus the airmiles, you’ll love the Alpine-inspired Bonnie’s restaurant and lobby (with enormous fireplaces and small boutique selling McNutt blankets and La Bougie candles). It’s perfect for lounging and people watching – the hotel is buzzy and great for young families. Though still a work in process, further renovations and innovations promised in 2022 include a spa offering and a Stella cinema. Look out for Press Up’s newest hotels – The Dean Galway, opening in January; www.glassonlakehouse.ie.
The Wicklow Escape, Donard, Co Wicklow
For a fabulous “foodcation” this new venture by founder Lisa Wilkinson and executive chef Danni Barry delighted gourmets when it opened. Cementing its credentials – the venue is the newest addition to Ireland’s Blue Book. If you haven’t been, The Wicklow Escape is all about rustic luxury set against a backdrop of the Wicklow mountains and landscaped grounds. On-site facilities include seven deluxe garden bedrooms, two restaurants, an outdoor terrace and a woodfired outdoor hot tub. As for the food, Wilkinson and Barry have curated two-night, three-day packages which include cocktails and nibbles, a three-course dinner at The Fiery, lunch or picnic to take on a walk or hike, as well as a five-course dinner menu with wine pairings. Between meals there are plenty of walking trails and hikes up the West Wicklow Sugar Loaf Mountain – perfect for burning calories and working up an appetite. On the final day, there is a leisurely brunch offered before checkout. The venue also makes a lovely bijou wedding venue – and can cater for up to 50 guests: www.thewicklowescape.com.
The Lansdowne, Kenmare, Co Kerry
Technically this heritage property, dating back to 1790, is not new but was bought by hoteliers John and Francis Brennan, who have been restoring and updating the interiors. Attention to detail is the Brennan forte – from the denim and navy jackets of the staff to the Walker Roberts Bluetooth speakers found in the bedrooms. The Lansdowne comprises 28 stylish rooms, with bedlinen from Francis Brennan the Collection for Dunnes Stores and The Handmade Soap Company toiletries. Guests and non-residents can enjoy the hotel’s LK Café, open from 8am daily, while other facilities include a dining bar and terrace, open from 5pm; www.lansdownkenmare.com.
The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat, Co Antrim
This year, one of the most exciting new hotel openings for spa lovers was The Rabbit, only 20 minutes from Belfast – it is the latest venture by Galgorm Collection, owners of the renowned Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort in Ballymena. This 33-bedroom boutique hotel offers stylish accommodation with four room types (Snug, Attic, Comfy or Luxe). The outdoor spa area offers Roman baths, Swedish saunas, an aromatherapy steam room and halotherapy salt chamber as well as a collection of hot tubs. There’s also a lakeside beach complete with heated sand, a Lake Bar, sunken lounge and chic cabanas – all you need in fact for a winter sun getaway! www.rabbithotel.com
Beckett & Zanzibar Locke, Dublin
Appealing to those who prefer to self-cater, Zanzibar Locke, a chic new aparthotel near Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge, opened in the early summer of 2021 comprising studios quipped with kitchen, dining and living space, as well as access to laundry facilities. Offering flexibility and a home-meets-hotel ethos, the studios proved perfect for city rendez-vous and occasional work visits to Dublin. So much so that a second location opened in November.
The 241-studio Beckett Locke in the Docklands (tucked behind the 3Arena) features a co-working space, artisan coffee shop, restaurant, and cocktail bar in addition to meeting and event space for up to 100 people. Osgur Ó Ciardha, country General Manager at Locke explains, “Alongside Zanzibar Locke, our ambition is to become a creative hub where guests and the local community interact – be it at one of our events, working alongside each other in the co-working space, or over a cocktail or two.”
Designed by the London studio AvroKO in collaboration with local firm C+W O’Brien Architects, the interiors of Beckett Locke take their cue from Dublin’s maritime history and the Docklands’ industrial heritage. Black steel, exposed concrete and rust-coloured soft furnishings are offset with Irish art by Cici Cavanagh, Jill & Gill and Claire Prouvost. Visitors will find three food concepts by Alan Clancy’s native restaurant group, NolaClan (House Dublin, 9 Below and Xico). These inslude North 7th Coffee, The Belis restaurant offering a contemporary Irish take on classic dishes using freshly sourced ingredients, while Sam’s Corner is a decadent cocktail area with red velvets serving cocktails inspired by Beckett Locke’s namesake, playwright Samuel Beckett; www.lockeliving.com.
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