Regencycore is trending. For upscale glamour, nowhere does Regency romance quite like these Irish hotels. Pack a silk gown, some Jane Austen novels, and take notes of the décor …
During lockdown the hit Netflix show Bridgerton not only provided escapism but also sparked a whole new fashion and interiors trend. “Regencycore” in fashion terms is all about empire-waist dresses, romantic make-up, and lots of opulent accessories like pearls. If you’ve seen more than a few people on your Instagram feed wearing a casual silk corset with jeans, this might be why. As for interiors, elaborate cornices, panelled walls, pretty pastel paints, gilded furniture and four-poster beds are the cornerstones of the Regency era, when Afternoon Tea became fashionable … Here are my suggestions for the best Bridgerton-style breaks this summer.
Carton House, Co Kildare
Carton House reopens this summer after an extensive two-year refurbishment as a Fairmont-managed Hotel. Once the ancestral home of the Earls of Kildare and the Dukes of Leinster, this walled garden Georgian estate is located just 20 minutes from Dublin, surrounded by 1,100 acres of sweeping parkland, ancient woodlands, lakes and the River Rye. It features 169 guest bedrooms, the majority of which are situated in The Garden Wing with views of the estate. There are 18 unique staterooms and suites located in The House, a Palladian-style mansion, at the heart of the Carton House guest experience. Dress up for dinner and choose from a number of options including The Morrison Room, the resort’s newest fine dining restaurant; the more casual Kathleen’s Kitchen; or The Carriage House offering a gastro-pub dining experience. Guests can enjoy a drink in the atmospheric Whiskey Library, in The Duke’s Rest, a unique wine room, or The Courtyard Bar. Explore the grounds, take in a round of golf on its two championship golf courses, or luxuriate in the Carlton House Spa (which has an 18-metre swimming pool and thermal suite). A stay in the Garden Wing is €250 based on two people sharing; www.cartonhouse.com or www.fairmont.com.
The Harrison Chambers of Distinction, Belfast
If you’re unfamiliar with this bohemian bolthole, The Harrison Chambers of Distinction is located in Belfast’s museum and theatre district. Its owner, Melanie Harrison, has expertly woven past and present in each of the 17 rooms, which are divided into three categories – Aristocrat, Bohemian and Gallivanter. The vibe is stylish and playful – huge bay windows, polished mahogany, rich velvet curtains, freestanding bathtubs and soundproofed rooms guarantee a great night’s sleep. Melanie’s sister Nola provides in-house spa therapies for guests to book, from facials to massages, scrubs and baths. There’s also a lounge where guests can mingle, and a fully licensed restaurant on the ground floor. Book the “Daphne and The Duke package” a Bridgerton-inspired romantic break for couples in an Aristocrat Suite, which includes champagne on arrival, breakfast in bed, and stroll in the Botanic Gardens nearby; www.chambersofdistinction.com.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway
Dating back to the 18th century, the five-star Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate is where old world charm meets contemporary elegance. During lockdown the team have been busy completing the refurbishment of The Tapestry, The Ffrench Room, and The Abbey as well as a (fabulous) new boutique spa. Savour the hotel’s Regency splendour and take in the renovations on an overnight break. “Recapture Magic Moments” is a celebratory night away, during which the team will welcome you with artisan sweet treats, champagne and a bouquet of flowers. Also included is a bespoke massage and à la carte breakfast in The River Room. You can be as languid or as active as you like: with 138 acres, the estate is also home to a golf course and driving range and offers falconry, on-site horse riding, fishing, and lots of walks. Overnight rates are from €445 per room; www.glenloabbeyhotel.ie.
The Georgian Rooms, Howth, Co Dublin
This twelve-room property is owned by Georgian enthusiast developers who specialise in restoring old properties and offering a sense of Georgian Dublin. Some of the rooms are studio-style with kitchen facilities, all are en-suite, with self check-in and -out facility. Located just off the harbour in Howth (with lots of free parking in the vicinity), the emphasis is on comfort and style. Spend your days hiking, watching seals play in Dublin Bay, or enjoying the neighbouring restaurants where seafood is a speciality. A stay at the Georgian Rooms provides a safe non-contact accommodation solution in our current Covid-19 conditions; www.georgianrooms.com.
Ballyfin Demesne, Co Laois
Ballyfin has long been admired as the most lavish Regency mansion in Ireland, offering the very best of Irish hospitality in the most beautiful surroundings imaginable. With only 20 rooms on the 614 acre estate, this five star luxury hotel is the perfect place for a break from the stresses of recent months; it provides discretion and privacy like few other destinations. From: €600 bed and breakfast per person; www.ballyfin.com.
Enniscoe House, Co Mayo
Enniscoe House is situated on the shores of Lough Conn, with views of the lake across the parkland. It is known as “the last Great House of North Mayo” and the estate has been in the same family since the 1650s, while the classical Georgian house dates from the 1790s. Current owners, Susan Kellett and her son DJ, are happy to share their house and grounds with guests. Check in and enjoy elegant reception rooms and fine bedrooms with stunning views. Outside are shrubberies, miles of woodland and lakeside walks, a carefully-restored pleasure garden and an organic vegetable garden. There is also a small agricultural museum, tearoom and shop on the premises, and the genealogy centre that researches names and families of Mayo origin. From €95 for bed and breakfast per person sharing; www.enniscoe.com.
Newforge House, Craigavon, Co Armagh
Newforge House is a five-star Georgian country house owned by chef patrons John and Lou Mathers. The house has six light, airy rooms which blend antiques with contemporary comforts offering views of the mature gardens and surrounding countryside. There is an extensive pillow menu, in addition to a gin list which is astounding. Pack your copy of Mansfield Park and enjoy being pampered by John. Look out for the Midweek Break, Weekend Break and Dusk ‘til Dawn (overnight) offers from £240 per room sharing; www.newforgehouse.com.
The Mayson, Dublin
The current “Missed Moments” package at this boutique Georgian townhouse is worth investigating. It includes a glass of bubbly on arrival, and a gift in your suite – think four poster beds, and pretty pastel décor. Then there’s a three-course dinner with wine, and a signature cocktail, with breakfast cooked to order the following morning. From €150 per person, available from Sunday to Friday; www.themayson.ie.
Marlfield House, Co Wexford
This beautifully-restored Regency house, owned by the Bowe family, is set on 36 acres. Rooms are filled with antiques, impressive artworks and vases of fresh flowers from the garden. All overlook the gardens and grounds; the six grand staterooms open onto the lake and wildfowl reserve. The extensive gardens include a tennis court, woodland walks in addition to rose, vegetable and herb gardens which provide much of the produce for the kitchen. Marlfield’s conservatory restaurant, with frescoed walls, is highly acclaimed as one of Ireland’s most charming dining rooms serving classical food. Alternatively The Duck terrace restaurant provides casual alternatives and overlooks the kitchen garden. From: €112 bed and breakfast per person; www.marlfieldhouse.com.
Castle Leslie Estate, Co Monaghan
Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodland and glittering lakes, Castle Leslie Estate is one of the last great Irish castle estates still in the hands of its founding family. A stay in one of the 20 unique bedrooms at The Castle offers complete respite – you won’t find televisions, radios or minibars in the bedrooms. Whether your idea of heaven is a romantic boudoir designed with relaxation and privacy in mind, or a flamboyant room decorated with rich deep colours, there’s a bedroom to suit your tastes. From €125 per person; www.castleleslie.com.
The Culloden Estate and Spa, Co Antrim
The hotel stands high on the slopes of Holywood Hills in twelve acres of secluded gardens and woodland overlooking Belfast Lough and County Antrim’s coastline. Exquisite decor, fine antiques and exceptional service combine to give the Culloden Estate and Spa a unique air of sophistication. Alternatively, book the “Bridgerton Afternoon Tea” priced at £35 per person (sadly the Duke of Hastings is not included!), also available at its sister hotel The Slieve Donard, Co Down; www.hastingshotels.com.
The Merrion, Dublin
Dating back to the 1760s, the hotel currently offers a fabulous “Two Great Houses” package – the perfect choice for those who wish to enjoy the bustle of Dublin as well as the option of unwinding in Ireland’s scenic countryside. At The Merrion, guests will be treated to an a la carte dinner in the beautiful Garden Room restaurant, followed by overnight stay in a deluxe room with breakfast the next morning. Guests can also relax in the Merrion Health Club and Spa and enjoy a complimentary audio tour of the hotel’s private art collection. As part of this luxurious package, guests will also enjoy a one-night stay in a Ballyfin state room. To celebrate, a chilled bottle of champagne awaits guests on arrival at each hotel. The package is priced from €1,890 for two people sharing for the two nights. For further information visit www.merrionhotel.com.
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