Just a 30-minute-drive from Dublin airport and you arrive in the sweeping vistas of Wicklow. Verdant mountains, boggy marshlands and gurgling streams place you in a timeless landscape. Make sure you pack your waterproofs and soak up the great outdoors, which offer some of Ireland’s most spectacular sights: from the Sugarloaf Trail, a two-hour climb up Great Sugar Loaf Mountain, to exploring the stone ruins of the 6th century monastery at Glendalough.
Wipe your feet at the door and check into Powerscourt Hotel, an Autograph Hotel. Its impressive Palladian-style architecture and grand décor belies the warm, personal welcome you’ll receive. While the scale of the property is impressive, the mood is more intimate and cosy. Also ticking the box is the fact that most of the 200 rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces to make the most of the glorious setting – in one direction are the Wicklow mountains and the other is the historic Powerscourt Estate.
Bedrooms are huge in size and bursting with old-style opulence. Traditional touches include plush royal-blue-and-gold carpets, elaborate curtains (complete with swags and tails), and marble bathrooms with sumptuous soaking tubs and tile TVs (who doesn’t love watching a movie in the bath?). Classical as the décor is, there’s still an eye on the 21stcentury traveller, with in-room, state-of-the-art technology. Everything, including lighting, pulling the curtains and room service, is controlled by touch screens. Another highlight is the ESPA spa, with a stone, wood and slate design to reflect the setting outside. As well as a 20-metre Swarovski Crystal-lit heated pool and a standout thermal suite, it offers a whole range of innovative treatments, from sleep therapy to mindful massages.
A Guinness is a must in McGills, the hotel’s atmospheric Irish pub (decked out with antique barrels, displays of vintage match-boxes and retro beer bottles). Casual dining includes homemade soups, seafood chowder and ale and mushroom pies. In Sika’s sophisticated dining room, on the other hand, the culinary experience is more ‘haute’ with a focus on seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. Kick your meal off with ‘Cured Salmon with a Lime Tuille’ and follow with ‘Lightly-spiced Monkfish Tail with Chorizo, Samphire and Brown Shrimp’. Finally, the ‘Green Tea Profiterole, Confit Mango and Wasabi Pastry Cream’ is a high note to end your experience.
A must is a meander around the nearby Powerscourt Estate, which has exceptional grounds and Ireland’s highest waterfall. Managed by head gardener Alex Slazenger (the Slazenger family own the property), the gardens date back to 1731 and include formal spaces, a quirky tower and ornamental lakes.
The hotel can arrange a wide array of activities, from archery to golf; fishing to shooting. There’s also peacefulriver walks to enjoy along the River Dargle, which runs through the grounds.
From €230 midweek and €320 weekends per room, per night. Visit: powerscourthotel.com
CityJet fly up to eight times daily between London City Airport and Dublin, with one way fares from £44. Visit: cityjet.com
This article was also published on 3 September 2018 in City AM Newspaper