Imagine a grand, Italianate, Georgian, Irish country house, gorgeous but lived-in, run as a guesthouse by its old-school owners since the mid-1980s. Imagine their son growing up there, then leaving to work at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and later as General Manager at Babington House. Imagine that he then returns, takes over the reins and runs the hotel his way. You are imagining Ballyvolane. Filled with antiques, oozing atmosphere, it’s also – thanks to deft touches introduced by Justin Green and his wife Jenny – somewhere that’s cool and stylish too. It’s that hard to achieve thing: a place where one can unwind, but makes its guests feel glamorous and special. There are Persian rugs, antiques, quirky retro tables, roaring fires and a lavishly stocked honesty bar, with Justin’s own delicious gin, Bertha’s Revenge, taking pride of place. The bedrooms are lovely, and the food, eaten communally, unless you specify otherwise (you won’t), delicious. Breakfast is served whenever you want. There’s glamping too, in the lovely gardens and grounds, and fishing.
Lismore Castle Arts and Gardens. The views from the Vee just above Lismore. This drive takes you through the stunning Knockmealdown mountains which views overlooking north over five counties.
Sage in Midleton (modern Irish), Farm Gate in Midleton (authentic Irish), Miyazaki in Cork (high-end Japanese take-away food) and their new sister restaurant Ichigo Ichie, Cork (fine-dining Japanese).
The Shop at Ballymaloe Cookery School (cook books and cooking accessories) and take in their spectacular gardens too. ‘I am of Ireland’ in Doneraile (contemporary Irish Design and Art).