The lowdown: Urban sophistication and country cosiness spectacularly combine in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt – an idyllic sanctuary for nature lovers and homebodies alike. Located just 40 minutes away from Dublin’s centre, the historical estate, which dates back to the 12th century, is set on 1,000 acres of emerald green fields, surrounded by rich forests and intersected by the River Dargle. Standing tall against this breathtaking backdrop is the Palladian-style building that houses 200 sprawling rooms, a 30,000-foot spa and a Gordon Ramsay signature restaurant.
The rooms: Averaging 700-feet in size, the rooms are decorated with a mix of antique-style furniture, plush soft furnishings, sleek marble bathrooms and high-tech gadgets. No detail has been spared, from the TV screens encased inside the bathroom mirrors to the Aqua di Parma toiletries and the lollypops on the pillows. Book into a room with views of the dramatic Sugarloaf Mountain.
What to do: We recommend the spa be your first pit-stop, especially if you’re fresh off a flight or long drive. Rehydrate with an Essential Body Treatment from the Espa range, kick-starting with a thorough body brush and exfoliation, following by an indulgent full-body massage and finishing off with a cocooning body wrap. If you can tear yourself away from the indoor pool, several saunas and tranquil relaxation rooms you will find there are plenty of peaceful outdoor pursuits, too. Take a gentle stroll in the romantic Italian and Japanese gardens or step things up a notch and hire a bicycle and follow the river path. Golf enthusiasts will delight in the two 18-hole golf courses designed by David McClay Kidd and Peter McEvoy.
Eating and drinking: For the ultimate foodie experience, reserve the Chef’s Table in the custom-designed Gordon Ramsay kitchen and watch the hustle and bustle first-hand – don’t worry, no shouting allowed! Fish and seafood abound on the East coast of Ireland so this is the perfect opportunity to feast. We suggest the chilled Irish lobster to start, the roasted monkfish as a main and the iced nougat parfait for a sweet conclusion to the meal. If you’re in the mood for something more relaxed, cosy up in the Sugarloaf Lounge with gourmet fish and chips washed down with a pint of Guinness (when in Ireland!). Finish with a nightcap in the in-house pub, McGills, where you will be treated to live music, a pub quiz or movie night, depending on the evening.
The details: Rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt (Tel: 353 1 274 8888; www.ritzcarlton.com/Powerscourt) start at EUR 250 for a Deluxe Room during summer and EUR 185 during winter
By Maria Milano