Powerscourt is the second hotel I’ve stayed in this year to have a bathtub telly, the other being at London’s Arts Club: see page 120. Certainly, it’s a trend I approve of: in this gigantic suite in Co Wicklow, I found myself wallowing in the deepest, most fragrant suds to the – random alert – Tom Hanks/volleyball bromance film, Cast Away.
As a five-star, 194-room colossus, Powerscourt has considerably more creature comforts than Hanks’ screen counterpart – the Utopia-soft Marriott pillows alone are worth the stay. And while it does feel far from the madding crowds, the hotel is only eight kilometres from the N11. Its mock, crescent-shaped Palladian architecture – completed in 2007 – was inspired by the 800-year history of the Powerscourt Estate and, while once populated by Celtic Tiger-era cronies as a Ritz-Carlton property, it now has a much more inclusive, family-friendly feel. These days you’re more likely to be rubbing shoulders with thirtysomething couples, tween-in-tow parents, wedding parties and octogenarians having afternoon tea in the Sugar Loaf Lounge.
Cross the threshold into the lofty entrance (which feels rather like a grand old cruise ship) and rest your eyes on the rolling green lawn and woodland views, beyond which is the 18th-century Powerscourt House and Gardens – a must-visit at any time of year, not least in autumn when the trees start to pop with colour. There’s also a nearby 36-hole, championship-standard golf club.
Snubbing tee times for TLC however, I languished in the ritzy ESPA Spa’s 20-metre Swarovski Crystal-lit heated pool – a Tiger-era centrepiece if ever there was one – before availing of a skin-brightening facial. The state-of-the-art thermal suite (hammam, sauna, wet rooms) and relaxation area completed an afternoon of shameless recumbency.
There’s nothing like a good feed after some serious R&R, and the low-ceiling, high-standard Sika Restaurant didn’t disappoint, serving artfully executed dishes from seasonal and locally sourced produce. Bar food can be found in McGill’s, a curiously bijou Oirish pub tucked away off the hotel’s mighty “events” corridor that leads to several function rooms. The cod of my fish‘n’chips was super-fresh and expertly battered – not too brittle, not too soft.
The Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa may look overstated but don’t be fooled – it’s a place for unwinding, be it exploring the 400-hectare grounds or wallowing in the bath. Watching telly (Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, 01 274 8888; powerscourthotel.com)
Date Night: Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa’s “Grown Up Getaway” package is from €155 per person sharing and includes overnight accommodation, dinner in Sika restaurant and breakfast the following morning.
This feature appears in the September issue of CARA magazine, the inflight publication of Aer Lingus.