48 Hours In: Sicily

Via Garibaldi, Catania

It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to discover that Sicily has always been coveted by those who know a good thing when they see it. That fact that it’s the largest island in the Mediterranean certainly made it noticed; more significantly, perhaps, was its central Mediterranean position, which strategically made it a point of convergence between the European and African continents.

City Break: Perpignan


For no good reason that I can think of, Perpignan hasn’t been on the list of people’s must-see destinations. True, it doesn’t readily spring to mind when you tick off places in France you might want to visit, yet after spending a few days here in early April (raining in Dublin; 20-degree plus in Perpignan), a conclusion is quickly reached: you’re missing something quite special.

48 Hours In: Dingle

Dingle Peninsula

There is such a surfeit of culture in the Dingle region that if someone could process it, and distil its essence into some kind of chemical compound, it could service the yoghurt industry forever. If that seems like some fanciful notion from a recently bewitched visitor, then so be it.

Hotel: Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

Ashford Castle

What’s it all about? Well, Ashford Castle is all about history, service, attention to detail and being made to feel like royalty, that’s what it’s all about. This majestic pile dates back to 1228, from whence it changed hands and appearance many times (it has gone from being, initially, a defensive castle stronghold to French Châteaux to Victorian neo-Gothic).

Hotel: Aghadoe Heights, Kerry, Ireland

Aghadoe Heights – the vIew from the penthouse jacuzzi

There are many reasons to recommend Aghadoe Heights, but the one thing that always springs to mind whenever this luxury Irish spa hotel comes up in conversation (which is more often than you might think, especially when you’re stuck at home either nursing a cold, or looking outside and wishing you were anywhere else but home) is the intuitive, instinctive skills of the hotel head honchos, Pat and Marie Chawke.

Hotel: Parknasilla, Kerry, Ireland

Parknasilla, exterior view

There are various crucial reasons why anyone pays good money to spend a leisure weekend (or longer) in a hotel: they want to base themselves in a city destination and simply use the hotel room for sleeping in; they want to base themselves in a relatively remote location, amble through the local area and enjoy all that it has to offer; they want to retreat to a place of such remoteness that it requires a little bit of effort to get there, yet on arrival all that’s left to do is to melt into the atmosphere and the environment.

Hotel: Lough Erne, Fermanagh, Ireland


Lough Erne Resort, Jetty at dusk

A few miles from the famed island town of Enniskillen, Lough Erne Resort resides between two prominent lakes on its own peninsula. And yes, that is as breathtaking as it sounds.   All rooms have enviable views of the natural surroundings.

Hotel: Cliff House Hotel, Waterford, Ireland


Cliff House Hotel, Exterior at Night

The Cliff House Hotel is aptly named – there it is, improbably stitched onto the coast, overlooking the popular picturesque summer resort village of Ardmore, West Waterford.   The Cliff House has been at the forefront of national hotel attention since its opening in the late Noughties, garnering for itself in the meantime a wealth of acclaim, positive reviews, awards and stars (notably in the on-site House Restaurant, which nabbed a Michelin star last year).