The best options home and abroad for a 'Twistmas' break

The period between Christmas and New Year is fast becoming peak season for holidays. Ciara McDonnell has the best options at home and abroad for a “Twistmas” break    

The best options home and abroad for a 'Twistmas' break

Go Home To Mama

If Christmas has worn you down, take yourself to the City of Lights, and embrace the anti-Christmas of it all.

Aer Lingus flies to Paris from Cork for around €179 return between December 26 and 29 and there are some great boutique hotels that won’t cost the earth.

Our pick of the bunch is Mama Shelter.

With interiors created by Philippe Stark, and a slightly out of the way location, this hotel boasts a surprisingly buzzy bar.

Focusing heavily on hipster travellers, it is rife with exposed concrete, blackboard ceilings and cool tunes.

The bar is always filled with hip, young Parisian things, and the food is created by chef Alain Senderens, meaning that the food is absolutely excellent.

Rooms are modern and chic and feature mod cons like an iMac in every room, Airplay, Skype and wifi.

As they say here, Mama’s gonna take good care of you. Double rooms from €89 per night.

Seek The Sun

The Costa Teguise in Lanzarote is a sun-drenched paradise.

Hop on a plane on St Stephen’s Day and arrive to the Barcelo Teguise Beach Hotel, which has just finished extensive renovation.

The property has been redesigned to appeal to an adult-only clientele and absolutely lives up to all of its hype.

Think bright, white walls with a splash of avant-garde artwork, tempered with cool tunes and frosty cocktails, and you’ve got a sense of what to expect.

Relaxation abounds in its modernist B Rooms, where state of the art beds make way for a hydro-massage bath in each room.

The infinity pool is surrounded by Balinese beds and overlooks Cucharas beach, which lies 150 metres from the property.

Sold? You can depart Cork airport on December 26 with Sunway holidays, for seven days half board.

The holiday will cost €1,564 per person sharing.

Take To The Slopes

There are still some great holiday deals when it comes to skiing this year, particularly in Austria.

We are very enamoured by the self-catering Schindlaus Apartments, located in the heart of Soll.

The resort centre is less than a two-minute walk from the complex and the ski bus stop picks guests up right outside, giving easy access to the slopes.

The apartments are spacious and well equipped, and are the perfect choice for a group of friends who want to have a seasonal getaway.

Each one-bed apartment sleeps three, and the resort has a ski room for easy storage.

You can fly out of Cork on December 26 for a week’s holidays at the Schindlaus Apartments for €839.

Check out www.topflight.ie for more details.

Get Your Culture Fix In Edinburgh

Not many cities have an extinct volcano at its centre, but Edinburgh stares up at its very own Arthur’s Seat.

Climb the mountain before settling down for an afternoon of great food, fine culture and wild nightlife.

We like to set ourselves up with a sturdy lunch at trendy eatery Falko:Konditormeister where German bread and amazing cold meats rub shoulders with cheese and homemade pretzels.

Lay your head at the ultra trendy Glasshouse Hotel, which lies behind the façade of a 150-year-old church at the top of Leith Walk.

The 66 rooms are swish and high end, with heavy, expensive linen, and complimentary decanters of whiskey.

The hotel has an intimate bar and restaurant, which lends itself to romantic encounters rather than bawdy nights out.

Aer Lingus flies from Cork to Edinburgh for around €200 return between December 26 and 29, and rooms at the Glasshouse are £144 per night; www.theglasshousehotel.co.uk.

Be Wowed in Amsterdam

Turn your life upside down with a Twixmas break at the newly opened W Hotel in Amsterdam.

This iconic hotel is split between two of the city’s historic buildings, across the road from one another.

The Telephone Exchange building houses the top floor Living Room aka Lobby, which houses a bar, restaurant and lounge and is surrounded by windows with a 360-degree view of the city.

The hotel is home to Amsterdam’s first rooftop pool, where guests can enjoy a cocktail all year round – both the pool and terrace are heated.

Rooms are modern and swish with all mod cons including Nespresso machine and a smartphone-activated key system.

The Kas bank building across the road houses 66 bedrooms, a fitness centre, a spa and a creative space for artists and musicians.

Expect to be impressed. Aer Lingus fly from Cork to Amsterdam for around €250 return between December 26 and 29, and rooms at the W Amsterdam start from €300 per night. www.starwoodhotels.com

Experience The Royal Treatment In Munich

If you’re looking for Alpine bliss with a modern twist then look no further than a Twixmas getaway to Munich.

Steeped in Bavarian heritage, you’ll find all the Oktoberfest clichés you want, but if you look a little deeper, you’ll also find some world-class galleries and museums.

The city has a walkable centre, and has a small town air, despite its size.

Treat yourself to some luxury and stay in Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski hotel, one of Munich’s most established and high-end hotels.

Opened in 1858, it has played host to some of Europe’s most celebrated and notorious figures, and was originally built as a guesthouse for King Maximilian II.

It is in walking distance to the Bavarian Opera House, and is a perfect starting point for your Munich adventure.

Aer Lingus flies to Munich for around €300 return between December 26 and 29, and rooms at the Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski start at €216 per room. www.kempinski.com

Enjoy A Mini Break In Manchester

If you think Manchester is football crazy, you’d be right. But behind that football-crazy exterior, there’s a city rich in culture and history, and fabulous food just waiting to be discovered.

Flights from Cork to Manchester are great value at this time of year, with return flights from Aer Lingus working out at around €160 between December 26 and 28.

While exploring this city, there are a few places you just can’t miss. The John Ryland Library is less a collection of books and more a shrine to them.

The stunning reading room is replete with vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows – if you are a voracious reader you will be in heaven. You can’t visit Manchester and ignore its most famous export.

The Manchester Football Museum will educate you, if nothing else, and if you have brought along a football-loving companion it may sate them for long enough for you to enjoy a delicious meal and cocktail without any football talk.

Stay in Great John Street, a fabulously eclectic boutique hotel right in the heart of the city.

Sporting all the luxury we would expect from a fancy city hotel, but with quirks like freestanding baths and unexpected mezzanines this is modern luxury, and we love it.

The hotel is housed in an old school house, so expect lots of tongue-in-cheek references to school – it’s all part of the fun and games.

Rooms at Great John Street start at around €120 when booked in advance, and they have great offers on Sunday nights. www.eclectichotels.co.uk.

Come Over All Wintry At Tankardstown

Sometimes, after Christmas we just need to be held. If overindulgence has gotten the better of you, then we suggest you take yourself off to Tankardstown House in County Meath, where staff will be ready and waiting to mind you.

Lay your head in one of their gorgeous courtyard cottage suites and enjoy a seven course-tasting menu by chef Robbie Krawcyzk.

Take your time perusing the spa menu in front of a blazing fire before heading off for a treatment, followed by a dip in the estate’s outdoor hot tub. We know. It’s amazing.

Book It:

From €145 per person sharing including an evening meal and breakfast . Call 041 982 4621; log onto www.tankardstown.ie; www.irelands-blue-book.ie

Lazy Sundays At Dunbrody

Take 24 hours out of your Christmas schedule and allow someone like Kevin Dundon cook for you.

This package includes early check-in and late check out, as well as a 25% discount in the spa, allowing you to make the most of your night away.

That evening, after a bracing walk along the Hook Peninsula, settle down to a super luxurious Sunday meal.

The following morning, after a large breakfast, take yourself back to bed and enjoy a restorative lie-in, before heading home to start the New Year’s festivities.

Book It:

Lazy Sundays are €145 per person sharing. Call 051 389 600; log onto www.dunbrodyhouse.com

Luxuriate Closer To Home

Hayfield Manor has an extremely fabulous Twixmas break on offer this year.

After a welcome mulled wine and mince pie, decide between an active afternoon of skating at Cork on Ice, a spot of sale shopping in the city centre with lunch in the famous Farm Gate Café in the heart of The English Market or simply take the time to indulge in afternoon tea at Hayfield Manor.

Relax by the fire in one of the hotel’s fabulous resident lounges before enjoying a deliciously festive meal at Hayfield’s signature restaurant, Orchids.

Book It:

Twixmas at Hayfield Manor costs €530 per person. This package includes 2 nights of luxury accommodation, full Irish breakfast each morning, dinner on one evening in Orchids Restaurant and a choice of afternoon activity as listed above.

www.irelands-blue-book.ie

Make Like Kim & Kanye

For a super-charged Twixmas break, check into the fabulous Ballyfin House for your Twixmas getaway.

Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, this luxurious country manor features 20 bedrooms restored to Georgian splendour, but pimped up with mod cons like flat screen televisions, complimentary mini bars and Wifi.

Choose from relaxing in the whiskey bar or billiard room and indulge in a spot of falconry after an evening dining on some of the best locally prepared food in the area.

If you ever wanted to be a Lord of the Manor for a night, then this is your chance.

Book It:

A Twixmas break at Ballyfin costs from €915 per night and is inclusive of full Irish breakfast, lunch, tea, coffee, homemade cookies and cake, soft drinks, a pre-dinner drink, gourmet dinner, bedroom minibar of soft drinks and snacks, pressing & laundry facilities, use of most on-site recreational facilities. Tel: 057 875 5866; www.ballyfin.ie Experience

Experience at The Westbury

This family-orientated package includes one night’s accommodation for two adults and two children, a copy of the classic fairytale book Red Riding Hood, special children’s surprises and tickets for The Gaiety’s Little Red Riding Hood.

After visiting the theatre, kids will be in for a treat as staff create a night time feast of hot chocolate and gingerbread, served in a fairy tale tee-pee set up in their own bedroom.

The package completes with a slap up breakfast the following morning.

Book It:

The Enchanting Pantomime Experience at The Westbury is available from €455 and is subject to availability. Call 01 646 3333 or log onto www.doylecollection.com

Get Blissed Out At Monart

Christmas can be a trying time, and if you need to find your inner calm, then there is no place better than Monart Spa.

Nestled in Wexford, the historic Monart house forms an impressive entrance to one of the country’s leading spas.

It boasts over 100 acres of countryside, allowing guests to reconnect and rejuvenate in this quiet and tranquil space.

Luxury is the watchword here, so expect amazing food and incredible treatments –– this is a Twixmas break you won’t forget.

Book It:

A one night getaway to Monart is available between the 26 and 29 December at Monart for €169 per person sharing.

It includes one night’s accommodation, breakfast and unrestricted access to the Thermal spa and scheduled classes. Call: 053 923 8999; www.monart.ie

Head North To Lough Erne

Beautiful at any time of the year, Lough Erne is ethereal during the winter months, and Lough Erne Resort has some fabulous packages available over the festive season.

Arrive to a roaring fire and enjoy the stunning views before settling down to a meal at Catalina restaurant.

Take a round of golf on the world-renowned course or indulge in a treatment at the Thai spa –– whatever your whim, it will be catered to here.

Book It:

Lough Erne has a one night St Stephen’s Night special which includes one night’s dinner in Catalina restaurant and bed and breakfast for €163 per person sharing.

Call 048 6632 3230 or log onto www.lougherneresort.com

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