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Monday 09 December 2013

CHRISTMAS and New Year are times when a lot of people like to get away from it all. Some hotels are already booked out. I am told this is often by people who work right up to Christmas Eve, perhaps in the hospitality or retail business, or those whose families have flown the coop.

Each Christmas morning, after Mass and a drive along Dun Laoghaire seafront, as I am looking up the rear end of the proverbial bird, with everyone, including Siamese cats Bruno and Bobby Dazzler, hollering for the big breakfast to set them up for the day, I bleat about next year. So, if this is your year to get away for Christmas or New Year, here are some of the deals available in hotels around the country. Please note that unless otherwise stated, all children's prices are for under-12s sharing with parents.

In Dublin, the Shelbourne Hotel on St Stephen's Green is offering a one-night Christmas stay starting at €255 pps from December 24-26, including breakfast in the Saddle Room, a Christmas gift for all guests, a visit from Santa Claus in the Lord Mayor's Lounge and a Christmas stocking to be left outside each child's room, plus a five-course Christmas lunch or dinner on Christmas Day.

The Radisson Blu St Helen's on Stillorgan Road, convenient for both Dundrum and the city centre, has a great Christmas Day package offering a night's deluxe accommodation, sparkling wine and chocolates on arrival, buffet breakfast, and Christmas day lunch from €139pps. Christmas Eve four-course lunch or dinner in the Le Panto or Talavera restaurants is from €60pp and a five-course New Year's Eve candlelit dinner in Talavera restaurant at €65 pp with entertainment and a sparkling wine toast at midnight.

Three-day Christmas packages at Bewley's Hotel Ballsbridge start at €299 pps, €130 per child (under-threes free). As well as lunch on Christmas Day, dinner is included on Christmas Eve and St Stephen's Day.

The Dylan Hotel has a New Year's Eve package at €409 per room, including a gourmet tasting menu in the Dylan restaurant with live music afterwards in the bar. Non-residents can also enjoy the Dylan's signature six-course tasting menu on New Year's Eve at €75 per person for either lunch or dinner.

A "couple's Christmas retreat" to the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel on Golden Lane costs from €185pps for two BB and a five-course dinner on Christmas Day. hotel-dublin

Ring in 2014 with a Las Vegas-style New Year's Eve party at Clyde Court Hotel (formerly the Berkeley Court Hotel). For €149pps, you get BB and a ticket to the party including a glass of bubbles on arrival, a five-course gala dinner, roulette and blackjack tables, 'tributes' to Tina Turner, Cher and Neil Diamond, a late bar and DJ.

The Gibson Hotel has a New Year's Eve package based on two people sharing at €99 room only, €119 BB and €169 BB&D. Dinner includes three courses from its seasonal German Food Market menu. Think snow-covered chalets along with a carvery buffet which includes bratwurst, roast meats, goulash and spit roast whole hog at €35 pp. Gluwein, mulled cider et al.

In Co Wicklow, Druids Glen has a number of packages, one of which offers three nights' BB, dinner on Christmas Eve and St Stephen's Day, and lunch and evening buffet dinner on Christmas Day itself. A one-night package including dinner is €170pps.

In Ballymoney, Co Wexford, the very popular Seafield Golf & Spa Hotel has one to two nights' New Year's Eve packages from €169 and €219 respectively to include a Gala New Year's Eve dinner. Great shopping too in nearby Gorey.

Monart Destination Spa at Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, has a fabulous New Year's Eve break with gala dinner from €349pps including Champagne and fireworks.

In Co Kildare, the K Club has Christmas and New Year's Eve packages starting from €750pps. Every room has its own Christmas tree, children under six stay free and on New Year's Eve the skies above the grounds will be brought to life with a fireworks display.

Hotel Kilkenny has a three-night package from €429pps with kids' programmes also available at €195 per child all in. Two nights' BB and dinner on New Year's Eve in Taste Restaurant (pre-booking essential) from €180pps.

Bansha Castle in Co Tipperary, built originally in 1760 and recently refurbished to a very high standard, sleeps 14 to 18 people. Here you can snuggle up in front of a crackling open log fire with a glass of port and a mince pie. Christmas week and New Year's week is €3,000.

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning looking out at the boats in Kinsale from a beautiful duplex penthouse. This sleeps four and costs €995 per week.

In East Cork, Castlemartyr Resort has a New Year's Eve one-night package with a five-course evening meal in the Bell Tower from €190pps.

The Radisson Blu Little Island offers overnight BB accommodation over Christmas from €55pps. A five-course Christmas Day buffet lunch is served in the Island Grillroom costing €85pp. Santa Claus will make a special appearance.

Hayfield Manor has a three-night Christmas package from €995pps whilst its New Year's Eve gala ball sees head chef Graeme Campbell push the culinary boundaries with a seven-course gourmet feast. Packages from €297.

Nearby, the River Lee Hotel has a two-night break with gala dinner on New Year's Eve, free live entertainment and late check-out from €189pps. It also has an offer incorporating a visit to Cork Opera House to see the pantomime Aladdin. Enjoy dinner first in the Weir Restaurant and a family ticket to the panto from €180 per family room.

At the Maritime Hotel in Bantry, West Cork, two night's BB with five-course dinner on New Year's Eve costs from €155pps.

The Brehon Hotel in Killarney has two- and three-night packages starting on either December 24 or 25 from €429, with children's packages costing from €189. Dinner is served in Danu restaurant on Christmas Eve followed by a six-course gourmet Christmas Day lunch and a champagne buffet later that evening.

The boutique Killarney Royal Hotel has one- to two- night breaks for New Year's Eve from €115pps to include pre-dinner mulled wine reception, a four-course dinner in the Candle Room restaurant, entertainment in the bar and champagne at midnight.

The Muckross Park Hotel in the heart of Killarney National Park offers two nights' BB from €149pps. Relax in the Cloister's Spa or take a jaunting car ride to Muckross House.

At the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare, you can arrive on Christmas Eve and prepare for a champagne and canape reception where you will be introduced to fellow guests. After dinner, join the Holy Trinity Abbey Choir for a recital in the bar. Next day, Santa will arrive on horseback with gifts for the little ones and you can look forward to a light festive lunch followed by a five-course gala Christmas dinner. Rates from €400.

The Old Ground in Ennis has one- and two-night New Year's packages with dinner on New Year's Eve from €115pps for one night and €160pps for two.

In Galway, at the Park House Hotel, you can enjoy a three-night break inclusive of New Year's Eve gourmet dinner from €279pps.

At the House Hotel, two nights' bed and breakfast, a four-course dinner on New Year's Eve, entertainment and a bubbly cocktail is €199pps.

At Basilico Restaurant and Coach House Hotel in Oranmore on New Year's Eve you can have 1BB at €50pps. You can dine Italian style with main courses from as little as €13.50, a toast at midnight with Prosecco and Pandoro cakes and live music until late.

Out in beautiful Connemara, Renvyle House Hotel's Christmas programme of three nights' BB&D is €633pps whilst its 2BB&D New Year's Eve package is €299 pps.

At Ashford Castle there is an extensive Christmas programme over three days for all the family with rates starting at €1,600pps. It also has a New Year's Eve one-night package with a black tie dinner in the George V room. Rates start at €447.50 pps.

At the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris, a special New Year's Eve break of 2BB1D costs €149pps.

At the Westport Plaza Hotel, you can have three nights' BB plus dinners, afternoon tea and a full festive itinerary from €435, or 2BB1D from €179pps. The sister hotel next door, the Castlecourt Hotel, also has a black tie gala ball at €55 per person.

Knockranny House Hotel has superb food from chef Seamus Commons in La Fougere restaurant. You can enjoy 2BB and dinner on New Year's Eve from €249pps.


At Kilronan Castle at Ballyfarnon, Co Roscommon, with its gothic splendour, you can have two nights' BB and a seven-course feast at lunch-time and a Christmas evening buffet from €358pps. Santa will visit on Christmas morning with gifts for the children.

Christmas packages at Harvey's Point Hotel in Donegal include three nights' BB, two gourmet dinners, Christmas day lunch and supper from €695pps. Guests availing of this package can also enjoy complementary accommodation and breakfast on December 23. The charming Noel Cunningham will be there to welcome guests with activities such as fireside singalongs and wine tastings. You can also bring your dog – there will even be a Harvey's Point 'dog show'. New Year's Eve packages from €369pps.

First published in the Sunday Independent