10 top holidays at home for the year ahead

School students can get a taste of college life with Campus Holidays, a unique getaway that sees families stay at the University of Limerick during the summer break.
School students can get a taste of college life with Campus Holidays, a unique getaway that sees families stay at the University of Limerick during the summer break.

Hoping for a repeat of last summer’s heatwave? From food to family, couples to city breaks, here are 10 top holidays at home for the year ahead.

1. Family

School students can get a taste of college life with Campus Holidays, a unique getaway that sees families stay at the University of Limerick during the summer break. Cosy apartments with balconies overlooking the Shannon are a great base for all the college has to offer, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool and the nearby activity centre complete with kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and horse riding. Plus there’s Limerick city, Bunratty Castle, Ailwee Caves and much more nearby. Self-catering apartments are available for €499 per week.

Contact 061 202433. Kellys Resort opens this month for another season. The iconic hotel, built on the beach, offers kids clubs, supervised playrooms and its famous children’s discos. A must for families.

Rates from €485 per person sharing for a 5 night stay, or €295 per adult for a two-day weekend full board experience. Rates plus 10% service charge. www.kellys.ie

2. Wellbeing

In partnership with Liss Ard Estate, ‘The Well’ has taken up residence in the magnificent 200-acre country house in Skibbereen, West Cork. The aim of this three-month pilot programme is to create a National Wellbeing Centre for Ireland. For the duration of the pilot, a range of wellbeing workshops — from yoga to healthy eating — are available, from €210 for single occupancy and shared €160. Rates quoted include workshop, meals and accommodation per person, per night. Prices vary dependent on workshop.

This Valentines weekend (February 14-16), Liss Ard hosts the Yoga Nidra retreat, a meditative practice for body and mind. The single rate is € sharing €380. The cost includes 2 nights accommodation, all meals and the yoga programme. www.thewellatlissard.com, 028-40018

3. Food

It’s nice to see good people do well. And anyone who has met Neven Maguire maintains he is one of the good guys. All staff members are known by name and Gordon Ramsey outbursts are a no go area. Not only has he written 11 books, now he has opened a cookery school. Classes start from €130. See wwww.nevenmaguire.com

4. Couples

Need some ‘us’ time? Monart is an oasis of calm, an adults-only five star hotel where couples potter through the hotel in their dressing gowns en route to spa treatments. Relaxation guaranteed. A three-night midweek break, including dinner and a treatment, costs from €315 per person.

The Cliff House Hotel is a breathtaking five-star on the Waterford coastline. All rooms have sea views while dinner is served in the Michelin-starred House restaurant.

The Cliff Break is available from €470 to €660 per room for two nights, including breakfast on both mornings and one evening meal.

5. City

Embrace those northern lights and head for Belfast. Stroll through its Victorian streets, take a drive to the Giants Causeway — and eat at the stunning Ox, the restaurant that has almost single-handedly catapulted Northern Ireland back into the foodie conversation.

Ox Belfast, 1 Oxford St, Belfast; +44-28-90314121; www.oxbelfast.com

6. Country houses

The Blue Book was created 40 years ago to bridge the gap between B&Bs and large hotels. There are 43 historic houses in the 2014 edition with some launching special offers to mark the anniversary. Castle Leslie has a one-night stay with breakfast and a ‘Blue Book cocktail’ on arrival from €160. www.castleleslie.com www.irelands-blue-book.ie

7. Spa

Long before Francis and John Brennan became household names, their hotel, the Park in Kenmare, was famous for its award-winning SAMAS Spa. Truly, it has to be seen to be believed. Its outdoor infinity pool is so luxurious it’s as though you are sitting in the woodlands. An overnight stay with breakfast is €145 per person sharing. www.parkkenmare.com

8. Budget

For this category, it’s got to be the Castlewood House, the boutique hotel in Dingle named the best bargain hotel in the world. Castlewood was honoured with the award last month by TripAdvisor, as voted by travellers. Rates start from €45 per person sharing.

Meanwhile, Bay View House Bed and Breakfast in Clonakilty was named Ireland’s best B&B. www.castlewooddingle.com www.bayviewclonakilty.com

9. Destination

All eyes this year will be on The Great Atlantic Way. Following in the footsteps of Route 66 and the Great Ocean Way, it’s Ireland’s first long-distance driving route, stretching 2,500km from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. Visitors will be encouraged to explore certain parts of the route and check out everything from Ireland’s famous surfing culture to fishing to hiking. www.failteireland.ie/wildatlanticway

10. Glamping

Ballyvolane House is something very special indeed. A member of Hidden Ireland, this unique country house is full of quirky charm. And their glamping facilities share the same bohemian character. A two-man tent is €150 per night, available from May to September. www.ballyvolanehouse.ie

Meanwhile, Dromquinna Manor in Kenmare has custom-made tents designed by safari tent experts in India for its glamping experience. www.dromquinnamanor.com

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