If romance and relaxation tops your list before the upcoming bustle of the holiday season or your wedding day, consider booking a long weekend getaway to Ireland, with a stay in the Irish countryside and then Ireland’s capital city, Dublin. With daily flights from many US cities on all major carriers, Dublin is a hop, skip, and a jump away.
After landing at Dublin’s international airport, book a rental car and head towards the idyllic countryside to get off the grid for a few days. Be prepared to be brought back in time, and treated like royalty, when you check into Ballyfin. Ballyfin is located only an hour and a half away from the airport in a small village in County Laois, Ireland, yet feels worlds away from the hustle of the big city.
Ballyfin is a place of serenity, history, and great natural beauty, providing an enchanting retreat from reality and an indulgence in Old-World luxury. The Ballyfin house is considered the most lavish mansion in Ireland and is constantly awarded top ranks on luxury travel lists. In fact, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West honeymooned at the property in 2015 after their extravagant Italian nuptials.
Guests are encouraged to enjoy Ballyfin at their own leisure. Canoeing, biking, falconry, fishing, clay-pigeon shooting, tennis, cooking classes, trying on period costumes, wine tasting, and trips through the grounds in a horse-drawn carriage are just a handful of the quintessential country activities that can be enjoyed (some are at an extra cost). If one doesn’t fancy moving around much, you can cozy up with a book by one of the many fireplaces, indulge in a couples massage alongside your loved one, or spend quality time in the swimming pool, state-of-the art sauna, and/or steam facilities.
With all that there was to see and do on this splendid property, there was hardly much time to enjoy our well-appointed bedroom – a four-poster canopy bed, gilded mirrors, beautiful antique furniture, and a vast bathroom were just the start. After a full day of activities, it was time to join the other hotel guests in the formal dining room for an exquisite three or five-course meal.
Ballyfin’s impressive accommodations, delectable fare, and stunning setting are second to none, but what makes this place so special is the quality of staff who care deeply about the history of Ballyfin and make you feel as though you are right at home. Ballyfin is designed for those who want to enjoy a few days of absolute peace – before the hair-raising holidays or perhaps you might want to put a trip to this property on your holiday wish list – and who wish to experience the noble tradition of Irish hospitality.
A night’s stay includes full board – you arrive in time for lunch, there’s tea in the afternoon, a drinks reception and dinner, and then a full Irish breakfast the next morning. Nonalcoholic drinks, tea, coffee, snacks and petits fours are all included, and you can get your laundry done and shoes polished as well.
Book now for a stay in December since the house will then be closed from January 3rd until February 10th for holiday. If you can’t make it to Ballyfin before the end of the year, this property is a must visit in 2017!
Following your side trip to the Irish countryside, a night or two in Dublin will invigorate you and your sweetheart. From the city’s stunning Georgian architecture to its world-class literary heritage, the unlimited Guinness to that unmistakable Irish charm, Dublin has earned its rank as a popular travel destination. But what makes it the perfect time to travel to Dublin? These days, you can add chic hotels, innovative culinary options, and trendy restaurants to the list of reasons why now is the ideal time to visit Ireland’s capital.
The River Liffey, flowing west to east, divides the city of Dublin in half. Visitors flock to the popular shopping destination that is Grafton Street, visit Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, and walk around St. Stephen’s Green – a public park in the city’s center which is located south of the river. While the city center is still the most sought after part of Dublin, full of important sites and excellent shops and restaurants, other neighborhoods are slowly gaining ground. The Docklands has become one of the buzziest parts of town – both Facebook and Google have offices there and it’s filled with U2 history – making a stay in this area a must.
If Dublin was missing something, it was a truly contemporary hotel. All that changed with the opening of The Marker Hotel, a design-driven property with spacious rooms. The subtle grey-and-white textiles anchor the dark wood furniture, and the cobalt blue carpeting and burst of neon green make the rooms lively to stay in. Heated bathroom floors and samples of Malin + Goetz products round out the generous in-room amenities offered by the hotel. Guests can also enjoy full access to the spa at the hotel which boasts a 23-meter infinity pool and a eucalyptus-infused steam room, perfect for unwinding, reconnecting with your loved one, and getting away from all of the worries back home.
The hotel is also a 15-minute walk away from the cutting-edge Aviva Stadium, another impressive modern architectural standout in Dublin. This sports stadium has a capacity for 51,700 seated spectators and is a great place to take in a rugby game during your time in town. Additionally, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is right across from The Marker Hotel, where you can enjoy various musicals, ballets, and concerts during your trip.
Dublin’s culinary offerings today no longer consist mostly of corned beef and potatoes. Seafood is a specialty due to the city’s proximity to the water and one might say that Guinness tastes the best when consumed in a Dublin pub, and no one seems to argue the point. For a big night out on the town, you should visit Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Chapter One, or L’Ecrivain, all of which are Michelin-star ranked.
If you’re seeking something a little less ostentatious, The Cliff Townhouse is a great choice for a classic and refined dinner. After sightseeing at Trinity College, a stop at The Pig’s Ear is a must. Winding Stair, across from the Ha'penny Bridge, is an in-the-know spot for locals and serves a delightful weekend brunch. Rustic Stone, Fade Street Social, and Forest Avenue are other up-and-coming restaurants and are worth checking out. No trip should be complete without a stop at Queen of Tarts (either of their locations, which are around the block from one another), where you can enjoy a late-afternoon coffee or tea and a delicious baked treat – the strawberry cheesecake tart was the best my husband and I have ever had. Also, be sure to check out Temple Bar, where you can enjoy live music and a great selection of beers on tap.
Ireland continues to enchant visitors with its folklore and leprechauns, Guinness, and greenery. With beautiful landscapes and enchanting folktales, Ireland is a dream destination to check out.