TOP URBAN HOTELS FOR FOOD LOVERS IN IRELAND
This is it, the moment we have all waited for, the moment when Ireland finally inches out of its third national lock-down. People are booking holidays en masse. Some will go abroad, but it feels like the majority will be headed to the Irish country side. And sure, why, shouldn’t they? If you are lucky enough to witness one of our blue sky days, you will find that there is absolutely nowhere like Ireland in the sun shine.
As city dwellers will make their way to less populated areas and will likely swarm and book out all that is good and great around the coast in particular, urban establishments will suffer from the exodus and I smell bargains. Our cities are full of hotels and these will want you and your money. There will be packages galore in cities all over the country.
I think, for this summer, instead of rushing to the country side, I will rush to great hotels with fantastic food in my and other cities. I’ve picked Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. I had to stop somewhere but don’t forget larger towns like Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford and similar sized locations.
Whilst there are many food related things to do in all locations listed above, I’ve chosen to focus on the hotels and the food focussed bargains they offer.
One piece of advice if I can, and it’s a simple one, it is ALWAYS cheaper to book with the hotel directly. Most hotel pass some of the fee they would normally pay to search sites back to the client in the form of a discount.
Also, if you have a deal in mind and you don’t see it on the website, pick up the phone and talk to them. You’ll be surprised as to what can be done for you! From adjoining room for families to adding a cheeky bed somewhere, pick up the phone, smile, be nice and they will give it back to you ten fold. Hospitality is in the Irish blood, there is no doubt about that, so go forth and enjoy your summer breaks.
Finally, I have checked with each hotel and each of them has confirmed they are wheelchair accessible. The more modern hotels will be by their very nature but even the old guard have refurbished with wheelchair users in mind. Some activities offered by the hotels may be restricted and the Pullman restaurant will be fine for someone with reduced mobility but not if you’re using a wheelchair as the alley way is too narrow.
If you have any questions, or if I can help, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: One question that keeps on coming up is “Where is the room featured in the header photo?”. I can confirm that this is Lafayette’s restaurant in the Imperial Hotel in Cork. I’ve not been in that room before but doesn’t it look just glorious?
I’ve not been to Belfast in absolute donkeys years, but let me tell you that when I do, I’m going to make a bee line for one of the Hastings Hotels. They took their food provenance extremely seriously and seem so passionate about great local food. The feedback I’m getting from friends who love food is that the Europa and the Grand Central are spectacular. Kyle Greer is the Executive Chef at the Europa and he has worked with Tom Aiken and in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. Damien Tumilty is the executive chef for the Europa and not only does he have over 20 years experience in hospitality but he also manages to lecture in Professional Cookery. Those are people that care about food. The Europa offers are listed here and the Grand Central offers are here.
The Merchant Hotel
And the there is the Merchant Hotel and its 5 AA Red Stars. There are several dining options and they are all lovely looking but if you wanted to go all out and why wouldn’t you…, I would suggest aiming for this Fabulous Foodie offer which starts at £660 and includes two nights retreat, breakfast on both mornings, a table side guide to wine and food pairing choices with the sommelier (love this if you’re into your wine or have a burgeoning interest in it), a nine course tasting menu, personalised advice on dinner options for your second evening, late check out and a wee gourmet gift featuring local produce used by the hotel. Two words: Hubba Hubba
Once Cork’s hidden gem, the Isaac is out for all to experience and delight in. If you’re after fantastic cocktails in a fun setting and delicious food, they have you covered. with several tasty deals.
The Imperial Hotel
With its 4, well earned stars, the Imperial Hotel sits on the South Mall, just right by the river. One of Cork’s landmark building, the Commercial Rooms, as it was then known, were designed and built in 1813, over 200 years ago now. Charles Dickens even gave a private reading in the Imperial Hotel back in 1888. I love a building with a bit of history. I had a short stay at the Imperial the first I went to Cork and the experience was absolutely charming. They pride themselves on hiring the right staff and they have hospitality down to a fine art.
BARGAIN ALERT: This summer The Imperial Hotel has two superb offers for food lovers.
Cork On A Fork starts at €289 a night (it’s a 2 nights stay) and it includes early check in, a chilled bottle of Prosecco and some sweet treats in your bedroom, afternoon tea for two in Lafayettes (which has outdoors tables by the way), dinner in Thyme at Seventy Six on the Mall one of the evenings, a la carte breakfast both mornings and late check out.
Thyme out starts at €229 a night and it includes a three-course dinner for two in Thyme at Seventy Six on the Mall and a la carte breakfast.
The River Lee
The River Lee is a 4 star hotel, which is part of the luxury focussed Doyle Collection. The Collection also features the Westbury in Dublin. The River Lee is located centrally and oozes upscale comfort.
BARGAIN ALERT: There is one special offer at the River Lee that caught my eye, but I also caught a look of the afternoon tea and I will now obsess until it is mine. All mine.
Come for dinner, stay for breakfast at the River Lee does exactly what it says on the tin. It starts at €274 and includes overnight accomodation, a three course meal in the award winning River Club (with a bottle of house wine), and a la carte breakfast the following morning.
The Conrad Hotel
I’ve a lot of love for the Conrad. I worked right beside it for a good decade and I had many happy lunches there. When I met Ailish Cantwell she introduced me to the joy that is their afternoon tea. I don’t know if it’s the best, but it is my favourite. They offer a wild selection of truly special tea blends. Although, she has moved abroad now, they once had a Tea Sommelier. That’s how seriously they take their afternoon tea. While, I haven’t dined there yet, I know that this Dublin landmark hotel is an oasis of calm in the city and I’ve no doubt that you would enjoy it. Another thing to note is that they are a pet friendly hotel and again that is a rare thing in cities. Finally, they are part of the Hilton chain of hotels and because of that, their website is not always up to date with their latest offer. I know they have some serious great deals planned but do pick up the phone and find out exactly what’s on offer.
For example last summer they offered a special deal that started at €259 and included an overnight stay with guaranteed room upgrade where possible (best to book earlier in the week for these), a three course dinner, breakfast, early check in and late check out and free onsite parking. I was booked in for January under similar deal but we all know how that went so I look forward to re-booking at some stage over the summer.
The Morrison Hotel
Did you know the Morrison Hotel was designed by beloved Dublin based fashion designer John Rocha? It first opened in 1999 and was completely refurbished in 2013. The Four Star is a glam spot right by the Liffey where I’ve had seriously gorgeous cocktails over the years. I’ve never eaten properly apart from my first ever afternoon tea and that’s far too long ago for me to pretend to remember it apart from the fact that I enjoyed it. But a friend, whose tastes I trust, swears by it and it’s enough for me to add it to this list.
BARGAIN ALERT: I found two interesting offers on their website.
Shop Stay & Tae begins at €175. The deal includes one night bed and breakfast and Sparkling Fancy Pants Afternoon Tea for two.
The Big Deal starts at €199 and includes one night bed and breakfast, dinner for two in the Morrison Grill Restaurant on the Big Deal Menu, a bottle of Prosecco and Butlers chocolates in your room on arrival, Early check in and late check out, complimentary bedroom upgrade where possible and you can add a second night bed and breakfast from €100.
There is nothing I could say about the Shelbourne that you haven’t heard before. It is iconic, a landmark, beloved and very much Dublin. I’ve only ever had drinks and dinner there but there is nowhere quite as sedately glam than the Shelbourne. It’s old world charm with a new world efficiency and a kitchen team at the top of its game. Granted it’s not for everyone’s wallet, but they do run great offers and it’s worth saving for and keeping an eye out for their offers.
BARGAIN ALERT: The Dream is a superb promotion currently running at the Shelbourne but it has very limited weekend availability for the summer. You can still get it midweek or for later on in the year.
Fittingly enough, this ultimate staycation package is called The Dream and it starts at €490 per person sharing. The Dream package includes 2 nights bed and breakfast, a bottle of Laurent Perrier champagne on arrival, oyster and champagne in no. 27, the Shelbourne Bar, a cocktail each in the 1824 bar, a 3 course dinner in the Saddle Room, a Swedish massage each in the Spa and lunch on the Terrace for two.
Other offers to note are Bed and Brunch at the Alex Hotel as I like the look of their inner garden and the Dinner, Bed and Breakfast package from the Marker is a delight. And finally, a nod to the Castle Hotel and their stay and dine offer, this is fab value if you’re on a much tighter budget and I like what they’re trying to do with the place. The discerning shopper will jump on the Discover Canteen at the Marlin special as it’s terrific value for such an acclaimed hotel and restaurant. Finally, I urge you to have a look at the Powerscourt Hotel Resort Spa’s Ultimate Getaway , ok it’s out of town but reachable by bus and car and it is just incredible.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate
The Glenlo is a long time favourite of mine and I am thrilled to see it reopening having completed its refurbishment. The passionate and skilled executive chef is French man Dominique Majecki comes from neighbouring hot spot, Ashford Castle and he runs the Glenlo Abbey and the Pullman beautifully and with great heart. Although none of the options are cheap, they are spectacular value due to the quality of the offering.
You can stay one night or a few, you’re at the very limit of Galway so you will get both the buzz of one of the most fun cities in the country and the calmness of Lough Corrib. There is plenty to be done on the estate like breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and then dinner… I jest but you can try your hand at falconry, catch a movie or go on the water.
All the Glenlo Abbey offers can be found here.
Located on the quays, right by the city centre, the water brings you a sense of peace rarely felt in urban areas. What makes this hotel different from all the other ones in Galway you ask? Well how about this… they have the rare of commodities of mini fridges in their rooms which I really miss in most modern hotels. Dillisk On The Docks, the main restaurant is AA Rosette accredited so you can expect a delicious bit of food.
The Dillisk Dining Experience package starts at €155 and includes the stay in newly refurbished rooms, dinner on one of the evenings and breakfast both mornings.
Bed and Brunch is an outstanding offer which starts at €129 and includes the night stay, the late breakfast or lunch and late checkout.
A full list of the Harbour Hotel offers can be found here.
The Twelve Hotel
I know I was supposed to stay urban but this is nearly urban and the offers are so good, I simply had to include them. Located in the village of Barna, just north of Galway, this is the boutique hotel of your dreams. People don’t talk about the Twelve, they rave about it. It’s chic to its core, it’s got the spa, it’s got the staff and it’s got the food. Seems like a great all rounder to me. A most worthy contender.
The Gourmet Escape starts at €150 per person sharing and includes two nights stay, breakfast both mornings and a three course dinner one night.
The 3 Chic 2 Gourmet deal starts at €322.50 per person and includes the luxurious accommodation, breakfast cooked to order on each morning, and two dinner, one will be gourmet and the other slightly more casual.
Limerick Strand Hotel
The Limerick Strand Hotel is one of those lucky hotels located in the green oasis of an urban area so you get the best of both world, the green banks of the Shannon and the absolute BUZZ that is Limerick city. With the world reopening, it is somewhere I am dying to spend more time in and the Strand is a great base from which to explore the city and nearby more rural areas. Two things to note: the first being that you simply cannot miss going to the Milk Market if you are there on a Saturday morning and secondly, if you’re lucky enough to be around when the weather is decent, the Strand does picnic baskets and I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a lazy afternoon.
The food at the strand is under the helm of executive chef Tom Flavin, one of the original Failte Ireland Food Champions, so let me tell you it’s all about provenance, provenance, provenance. Oh, and he’s a fan of bacon. Need I say more?
The Taste The Island packages allow you to stay and enjoy the award winning food so make sure you check them out!
No. 1 Pery Square
Close to People’s Park and nestled in the Georgian Quarter, No. 1 Pery Square gives you pure glamour and luxury in the heart of the city. The boutique hotels has absolute reams of special offers based around food and you are bound to find something suited to your taste. It all starts with The Overnight Bed and Gourmet Local Artisan Breakfast (from €135 which includes a nights stay and an outrageously delicious breakfast) all the way to The Picnic & Pamper from €279 per person sharing (includes 2 nights accommodation, breakfast both mornings, one evening meal, picnic of local Limerick foods and a back neck and shoulder massage each).