When it comes to grand, the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin delivers for parents and children alike. Located in the showgrounds of the historic Royal Dublin Society in the quiet residential community of Ballsbridge, this 197 room hotel is sure to impress and pamper all the family with its slick service. Children under 18 can share their parents’ room at no extra charge. There are special children’s menus, colouring books, board games and DVDs to borrow. Babysitting services are available and the concierge can arrange bicycling, hill and mountain walking, or a children’s art trail. Visit www.fourseasons.com/dublin
Dublin is a magical city for children to explore, especially if you go during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. As well as being sophisticated, The Merrion is very child-friendly. The hotel welcomes young guests with a special Miss & Master Merrion programme, which provides all sorts of surprises to make children feel as welcome and pampered as their parents. There are mini fruit skewers and home-made fruit smoothies on arrival, plus special Merrion crockery and cartoon table mats. An playroom is dedicated to children during Sunday brunch at the Cellar Restaurant. Families can also use the pool at Thethra Spa and the Merrion concierge will guide you to all the best spots in the city, from the zoo to the ducks at St Stephen’s Green. Visit www.merrionhotel.com
Capella Castlemartyr is just a 25-minute drive from Cork Airport, and is a fairytale 17th-century manor house set on Sir Walter Raleigh’s old estate. Family suites are spacious with two bedrooms and a large living room. There’s a delicious Organic Pharmacy Spa, as well as golf and fine dining. A team of Private Assistants call you a few days before you are due to arrive to draw up an itinerary for the family, which can even include a carriage tour of the gorgeous 220-acre estate. Visit www.capellacastlemartyr.com
Ard Nahoo is a luxury eco retreat in the unspoilt beauty of the North Leitrim Glens. The new self-catering eco-cabins are environmentally friendly in every sense of the word, from the wind turbines that deliver power to the natural paints used on the interiors. Located in Ireland’s Greenbox, the country’s first integrated, sustainable and ecotourism destination, Ard Nahoo has a full range of chill-out breaks, retreats and holistic treatments. For 2009, they have launched an eco family retreat summer workshop with a children’s yoga theatre, a fairy gardening workshop course as well as a Mother and Baby yoga class. Visit www.ardnahoo.com
Only 26 miles from Belfast, Ballygally Castle is set on the scenic County Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, and faces the soft, sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay with views to Scotland.
While the castle itself dates back to 1625, it has just had an extensive makeover, with the 44 luxurious bedrooms retaining their original period details. A Ghost Room is dedicated to the hotel’s ghost, Lady Isabelle Shaw, who has been visiting for 400 years, but don’t be scared – she is a friendly ghost. The hotel is
also within easy reach of the famous Nine Glens of Antrim and Giant’s Causeway, and there is fishing and a golf course available nearby. Visit www.hastingshotels.com