A future five-star hotel in Co Tipperary, a fine-dining restaurant overlooking Derry’s Peace Bridge and a stay in Wicklow with the wow factor are the Blue Book’s new additions for 2022.
Ashel Palace Hotel, Browns Bonds Hill and The Wicklow Escape are the new properties to be added to the renowned collection of country houses, historic hotels and restaurants for next year.
The new additions bring the total number of member properties to 59.
The Cashel Palace Hotel, which was taken over by John Magnier of Coolmore Stud before the pandemic, will reopen next March after several years of renovations.
The five-star hotel is close to the Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary and guests are promised a “world-class spa, exceptional restaurants and a cozy Guinness Bar” with B&B rates starting at €300.
“As a former member of the Blue Book, the Cashel Palace is delighted to once again have the honor of being a member of this prestigious collection,” said GM Adriaan Bartels.
The Wicklow Escape has received critical acclaim (read The Irish Independent’s version) for transforming a former yoga retreat into a foodie destination led by Danni Barry.
Barry is a Michelin-starred chef and the 18th-century mountain lodge has been restored by owner Lisa Wilkinson with seven rustic garden rooms and two-day all-inclusive rates from €492 for two.
“We look forward to welcoming valued guests to our unique culinary immersion,” Wilkinson said.
Another renowned chef, Ian Orr, is at the helm of the third new Blue Book addition – Browns Bonds Hill, a fine-dining restaurant overlooking the River Foyle in Derry.
The Blue Book calls it “like putting the Northwest on the foodie map”.
Since its inception in 1974, the Irish Blue Book has expanded to include not only luxurious mansions, but castle hotels, restaurants, mansions and even a lighthouse (on Clare Island) and a luxury hotel ship (the Shannon Princess, based in Carrick-on-Shannon). .
Here’s what to expect from the new members…
The Wicklow Escape
“It may look a bit pricey at first glance, but since each meal is both included and exceptional (with large amounts of wine), it’s a fair bargain,” wrote Nicola Brady of The Wicklow Escape in her Independent.ie judgement.
“This is truly a paradise for food lovers.”
Formerly known as Elbowroom Escape, the Donard mountain cabin has been restored by owner Lisa Wilkinson based on an immersive culinary experience concept. Vendors are “hyperlocal,” many of the menu items come from the gardens, and executive chef Danni Barry (pictured above) has curated fully inclusive two- and three-day gourmet getaways with guests with drinks to match.
Other notable touches include a hot tub under the stars, breakfast in bed, guided woodland walks and views of the Wicklow Mountains. Seven bedrooms are individually decorated and the property is also available for private rental.
Details: Two-day packages from € 246 pp. thewicklowescape.com
Cashel Palace Hotel
This former archiepiscopal house dates back to the 1730s and is described as a “landmark address” designed by Edward Lovett Pearce (the architect responsible for Parliament House on Dublin’s College Green), and is set amid a glorious array of gardens at the heart from Cashel.
Acquired by John Magnier of Coolmore Stud before the pandemic, a transformative reboot has been underway since 2017 and the five-star is expected to open in March.
The long-awaited renovation was chosen by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the reasons to name Tipperary one of the best places in the world to travel next year, and includes a new ballroom, 42 bedrooms (including eight suites) and a “spa bathed in light”.
A Relais & Chateaux member, guests can expect high-end dining under Executive Chef Stephen Hayes, and casual fare at Mikey Ryan’s Bar & Kitchen, which is already open for indoor and outdoor dining next door.
Details: From €300-€900 B&B; cashelpalacehotel.ie
Browns Bonds Hill
Browns Bonds Hill was opened in 2009 by renowned chef Ian Orr and his business partner Marcus Roulston – the pair also run Browns in Town and Ardtara Country House, among others.
Local and seasonal produce is at the heart of the Michelin-recommended menus here, and Orr is a previous winner of Georgina Campbell’s Ireland Chef of the Year, among many other accolades.
Guests can enjoy fine dining in a sleek, Art Deco interior overlooking Derry’s Peace Bridge, and experiences also include wine dinners, cooking demos and private dining.
It joins the Bishop’s Gate Hotel as the second Blue Book hotel in Derry.
Details: Main courses from £19-£25 (€22-€29); brownsbondshill.com