Deirdre Mullins hasn’t been to every Spa Hotel in Ireland but out of the many she has visited here are her top five.
The Cliff House Hotel, Co. Waterford
The Cliff House style is simple and elegant. On entering the reception area you are instantly seduced by the view of Ardmore Bay. The walls are natural slate and the whole hotel is bathed in natural light from its large windows.
Dining in The House Restaurant is a must. My eight course dinner was a gastronomic experience of pure bliss. I 'ummed' and 'aahed' my way through West Cork scallops, breast of pigeon, cod and Angus beef.
There are two good options for walks nearby. To one side is a stunning cliff walk that takes about an hour. To the other is a beautiful stretch of golden strand by the village of Ardmore.
The Wells Spa is small but faultless with an indoor infinity pool and an adjoining steam room and sauna. The outdoor Jacuzzi is a terrific place to while away a few hours and look out at Ardmore Bay.
Visit: www.thecliffhousehotel.com or call: +353 24 87 800 for more information on packages and rates and to book.
Delphi Mountain Resort Connemara Co. Galway
The exterior of the lodge is made from stone and wood and fits well into the surrounding rugged landscape of mountains and coastline. The rooms are simple but comfortable with muted tones and the wooden furniture keeps with the lodge's earthy feel.
The spa's relaxation area and its hydro pool have one of the best views in Ireland and I blissfully enjoyed the skyline with the sensation of the water jets on my back. Fifty euro will get you a seaweed bath which lasts for about an hour and leaves your skin soft for nearly a week. There is no pool but do put aside a couple of hours to ramble between the thermal suites, munch on fruit and sip on herbal teas.
If you’re the ‘outdoorsy’ type Delphi is the perfect place to explore the Connemara. Mountain climbing, surfing and sea kayaking are all on offer. As well as the adventure centre in the resort which has climbing walls and zip lines. Just a short drive away is; Croagh Patrick, Westport, Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey.
BrookLodge & Wells Spa Co. Wicklow
BrookLodge is a country house with a comfortable, relaxed and wholesome vibe. The setting alone, in a Wicklow valley, is enough to make you feel removed from the stresses and strains of city life. The lobby has a sense of homecoming with a beautiful golden retriever lying lazily in front of a blazing fire.
The spa at BrookLodge offers a good range of treatments from friendly knowledgeable staff. There is a fair-sized pool and in fine weather the retractable doors open, turning a portion of it into an outdoor pool. Alternatively, the outdoor hot tub is perfect for two to enjoy. There is a 'couple's chalet' in the woods with two couches for treatments so therapists can work on each client separately.
The Strawberry Tree Restaurant, Ireland's only certified organic restaurant and is one of the best things about BrookLodge. Everything on the menu is either wild or organic and, where possible, sourced from local suppliers.
If you want some activity head to nearby Glendalough or to one of the several of hiking trails around the area. The hotel has a pamphlet at reception giving you all the information on these trails. There is a 160-acre golf course designed by Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley, or you can trek on horseback through the Macreddin Woods. Visit www.brooklodge.com.
Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt Co.Wicklow
The Ritz-Carlton in Powerscourt is spacious and comfortable with plenty of natural light and pretty views of the nearby Sugar Loaf mountain.
Its spa is well-equipped, with 20 treatment rooms, separate male and female thermal suites and a manicure suite. The black marble indoor swimming pool inlaid with Swarovski crystals attempts to mimic the night sky. Its low lighting gives the pool area a very tranquil and luxurious feel.
Although Gordon Ramsay is rarely found on the premises of his restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, his name is enough to draw the crowds. His trademark lobster and salmon ravioli is on the menu and there is a genuine attempt to feature good quality local produce in the dishes. I found the food, service and ambience excellent.
One of the hotel's best assets is the natural beauty that surrounds it. It's located in the middle of the stunning 1,000-acre Powerscourt estate and is within walking distance of its golf course, waterfall and gardens. There is a private river walk that guests have access to. Complimentary bikes and maps for a number of cycling and jogging routes can be obtained from the concierge desk.
Monart Destination Spa, Co Wexford
Monart's is regarded as one of the world's leading destination spas and on first impressions its easy to see why. Set in 100 acres of countryside, with horses and woodland surrounding the hotel, escapism is the order of the day.
Guests are encouraged to wear robes and slippers around the hotel making your spa experience an all day event. It offers saunas, ice bucket showers, sanarium, caldarium, knieppe cure pool, aromatic steam room, salt grotto and a hydrotherapy pool. A nice touch is the foot massages which are on offer as you laze around on the loungers looking out to the gardens.
The gardens are designed by a Chelsea Flower Show winner, Mary Reynolds. Waterfall, stream, mature trees and rolling hills all intermingle to create an inspiring and beautiful space.
Attention to detail in Monart is first class, and everything appears to have been thought out carefully. Hints of Feng Shui are there, with a sense of balance between the modern complex and the natural world outside.
Patrons are requested to keep their voices low, newspapers are confined to the main house and Monart is a child-free zone. All this helps the guest forget the stresses of life from the moment they enter the hotel.
For more information, visit: www.monart.ie