The best January travel deals, from five-star hotel stays to spa packages
You might have missed it amid the garlands, but Carton House celebrated five-star status in December. When it comes to hotels, the stars are a checklist: from practical to lavish; rather than general beauty, but Kildare’s spot ticks the boxes on all fronts.
The checklist itself, available at failteireland.ie, is a cheesy treat for those who have fun spotting the doormen (they are, strangely, gendered) and the free daily newspapers.
They even note a preference for cast iron bathtubs. All this explains why some spots are withdrawing from the hunt for the stars and settling comfortably in the niche of high-end boutiques.
In any case, just due to Carton, where it is well deserved, and where you can stay from € 290 B&B per room. Or take the offer that makes you € 50 each to spend on the spot at € 355, and find that you are already saving money. cartonhouse.com
Okay, so it’s obviously too late for the winter solstice in Newgrange, but the Boyne Valley is still full of things to do. January is your last chance to see the wonderful Nano Reid exhibition, Adamantine, at the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda, which ends on January 22.
Reid was the first Irish artist to represent this country at the Venice Biennale in 1950, sharing the location with Norah McGuinness. She grew up in Drogheda, painting the city and its surroundings with the same passion and flair that Manet and the guys had done with Paris, only her work is wilder.
The exhibition is free, but reserve in advance at highlanes.fr and be sure to stop for a snack at the on-site Five Good Things Cafe. Stay at the Scholars Hotel just up the road, where single rooms start at € 89 and doubles from € 109. savantshotel.com
Just when the shiny “new” part has worn off in the New Year and your resolutions are already starting to disappoint you, pop the snowdrops, offering a natural boost. Altamont Gardens in Carlow hosts ‘Snowdrop Month’ throughout February, where you’ll see bands lining the ground that had only looked muddy a few weeks before.
Galantophiles – that’s the fancy term for snowdrop lovers – are spoiled for choice throughout the county, with more views at Huntington Castle, Shankill Castle, Burtown House (n don’t forget to take the time to eat at the Green Barn) and at the Snowdrop Gala at Ballykealey House on February 5th, priced at € 90 including lunch, lectures and afternoon tea. Info about everyone at carlowtourism.com / events. Stay at Mount Wolseley, where you will enjoy a deluxe double room from € 114 B&B per room in their winter sales, montwolseley.fr
Still on the topic of the enduring joys of nature, garden tours are ideal when you’re trying to get out there and be healthy, but not quite ready to climb a mountain – or maybe so. your climbing days are behind you. . . . Wicklow’s Mount Usher is a bliss in the county known as the Garden of Ireland. And if walks, a river, lawns and plantations are not enough, there are also shops, a food market and an Avoca café; € 5 / € 9 entry on mountushergardens.ie.
Stay at the Glenview Hotel with its own woodland walks and mountain views, where its January sale gets you a B&B from € 115 per room, or for € 193, add dinner for two. Reservations must be made before the end of January, for stays until March 31, glenviewhotel.com.
Want more? The National Botanic Gardens has a 21 hectare (52 acre) Wicklow outpost at Kilmacurragh. Famous for its rhododendrons (it is true that it has not yet established itself for a few months), and including a coffee, it is delicious; botanical gardens.ie/kilmacurragh
You, but better
There is no shortage of hotels to offer you grandeur in January. The Heritage Hotel in Co Laois has its perennial favorite, the Sunshine Ritual, which begins with ‘the old bath ritual’ (said like that, doesn’t a dunk in the tub start to sound epic?), and ends with a sea salt polish and massage. You will be quiet like everything for 110 €, with rooms from 90 € B&B per person sharing; theheritage.com.
Meanwhile, the lush Kildare cliff in Lyon offers outdoor baths with its “Winter Warmer” experience. And if that sounds like an oxymoron, hang on – it’s actually quite charming. Imagine a pair of copper hot tubs in a small walled garden, where you relax with salts, flowers and seaweed before taking a dip in the sauna. So it looks more like something Scandinavian, only in a really pretty part of Ireland. Breakfast and dinner included at the Moulin, from € 625 for two; cliffatlyons.fr