Ireland may just be top o' mind this week as everything gets tinted green from beer and mashed potatoes to Chicagos river and New York Citys Fifth Avenue. If so, now is a great time to book a luxurious romantic getaway to the Emerald Isle, as some of my favorite castles and hotels are offering fabulous spring specials. Heres whats available:
Ashford Castle: This stunning 13th-century castle once owned by the Guinness family (shown above at left) is as grand and romantic as it gets. Located on 350 acres beside Lough Corrib in County Mayo, about 26 miles northwest of Galway, Ashford Castle features 83 individually designed rooms and suites decorated with antiques (the best, called Staterooms, have four-poster beds and fireplaces). The George V fine-dining venue has period décor, including Waterford chandeliers, while the more intimate Connaught Room is known for its intricate wood carvings and French cuisine. Stay two nights at Ashford Castle, for a total of $545, including full Irish breakfast, and get a third night free at Ashford or at nearby Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate, through April 30, 2011.
Longueville House Hotel: Youll step back into the early 18th-century complete with cozy fireplaces and a romantic restaurant in a converted Victorian glasshouse conservatory and not want to leave at the 20-room Longueville House Hotel (www.longuevillehouse.ie) set on 500 acres in County Cork. The welcome is warm and gracious, the gardens are lovely, and the farm-fresh cuisine in the Presidents restaurant is fabulous. Book the Romantic Night Away package, starting at $417/night, and get one nights accommodation, chocolate and flowers, a five-course gourmet dinner, and a full Irish breakfast for two.
The Merrion: Easily the most gracious hotel in Dublin, The Merrion is set in a series of gloriously restored 18th-century Georgian townhouses, backed by two landscaped period gardens. Many of the 142 light-filled rooms and suites (shown at right) enjoy garden views, are decorated in soothing pastel tones and authentic Irish fabrics, and have large marble bathrooms. The two restaurants are the atmospheric Cellar offering contemporary cuisine and the two-Michelin-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. The Cellar Bar is located in the original 18th-century wine vaults. Book two nights, starting at $784 total, and get a third free, bringing the nightly rate to $261.
Sheen Falls Lodge: Located on the bay in Kenmare, in Irelands scenic southwest, this 85-room lodge is set on lushly landscaped 300 acres with walking trails and picturesque waterfalls. Décor here is muted in tones of yellow, beige, and butter and more contemporary than historic, with an ambience of understated luxury. The La Cascade restaurant overlooks the Sheen Falls and serves a seasonal and locally sourced contemporary menu. April One-Night Midweek Specials start at $294/night and include accommodation, dinner for two in La Cascade restaurant, and a full Irish breakfast for two, valid April 1 through 30, 2011.
Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort: Set on its own private island, this intimate 16th-century castle features an atmospheric entry hall leading to 19 historic rooms and suites decorated with four-poster beds and claw-foot tubs. The ornate, oak-paneled Munster Room serves up candlelight, piano music and exquisite seasonal and local fare like scallops and venison. Book the King and Queen of the Castle rate, starting at $417/night, and enjoy one nights accommodation, a bottle of wine upon arrival, dinner for two in the Munster Dining Room, and breakfast for two, valid until May 25, 2011.