The best spa hotels in Ireland, including cosy loungers with forest views and outdoor seaweed baths

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Please note our writer visited Ireland prior to the coronavirus pandemic

Spa breaks in Ireland have grown in popularity over the recent years, mainly down to the country’s growing interest in the wellness sector, and its array of impressively handsome properties in beautiful spots across the country – some of which are perched on the ocean’s edge or amid some of the finest landscapes Ireland can offer. Whether it’s a rural or oceanside respite or a brief and luxurious break from urban bustle, here’s our pick of the best hotels with spas in Ireland, including the top for vitality pools, relaxing treatments, refreshing saunas and steam rooms, in locations including Dublin, Mayo, Kerry, Laois and Donegal.

Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa

Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland

8
Telegraph expert rating

A five-star base in a spectacular setting amid the lakes of Killarney, where you’ll feel at home whether you’ve booked to unwind in the spa, play golf, fish or explore the great outdoors. The menu of treatments and therapies includes facials, massages, scrubs and wraps. Facilities include an indoor heated pool with waterfall and adjacent whirlpool tub, as well as gym, thermal suite and several treatment rooms for couples. Each of the 74 rooms and suites has a view, but some look over garden or farmland, so try to book one on the lake side.


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£
160

per night

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Ashford Castle

Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

With a peerless Lough Corrib setting and innate grandeur, centuries-old Ashford Castle has long been known as one of Ireland’s best hotels. Extensive renovations have imbued the property with sufficient modern comforts to ensure it can stake a claim as one of the most characterful and successful hotels in Europe. A Victorian-style greenhouse houses a pool and spa. Activities range from fishing with a local ghillie, horse riding, and joining the Irish School of Falconry.


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£
297

per night

Park Hotel Kenmare

Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

A wild grass covered Scandi-esque eco-lodge with a sparkling interior, the ultra-modern Samas spa is a chilled spot from which to survey the ever-changing tides. There are five treatments rooms where you can enjoy heavenly Sisley treatments and the knock-out thermal suites consist of a 40-degree thermal eternity pool open to the wilderness, a steam room, a tropical shower and knippe pool. To finish, a relaxation room with beds in which to tuck yourself up while enjoying floor-to-ceiling views of the ferns and pine forest.


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£
222

per night

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The Marker Hotel

Dublin, Ireland

8
Telegraph expert rating

The modern spa and wellness area is the big draw here, and it’s extremely impressive: by turns spacious and enveloping, with a cool, smooth palette of greys to create a sense of intimacy. The fabulous emerald-green infinity pool comes in at a generous 23 metres; there’s also a commodious whirlpool tub, plus a very extensive range of treatments. The pair of hammock-esque ‘retro-cocoons’ that hang from the ceiling and promise instant and immersive relaxation, look very inviting.


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£
189

per night

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Lough Eske Castle

County Donegal, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

Lough Eske has been garlanded with praise – and no wonder: this five-star hotel offers marvellous service and hospitality. And a splendid setting too: the hotel and its grounds lie on the shores of beautiful Lough Eske, surrounded by some of Donegal’s most rugged landscapes. The excellent Spa Solis looks out onto the hotel gardens: it’s modern and sleek, with indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, infinity pool and eight treatment rooms.


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£
199

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The Merrion Hotel

Dublin, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

The very lovely 18-metre swimming pool in The Merrion’s Tethra Spa is especially worth experiencing: flanked by symmetrical columns and tiled in lapis lazuli-blue mosaic, this is as Roman as they come, and beautifully relaxing. A full range of spa and beauty treatments is available, with a choice of Espa and Bioloque Recherche products, plus steam room, and gym with personal trainers. Spacious and light-filled Garden Wings to the rear enclose a pleasant half-acre quadrangle of fountains and manicured greenery. Rooms are beautifully appointed.


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£
245

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The Ice House Hotel

Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland

8
Telegraph expert rating

The Ice House is swish, small and delightfully situated. Moreover, it features an evocative history to add to a luxurious present life – for it really was an ice store, built to serve the bountiful salmon fishery on the river Moy. Don’t neglect the Chill spa, with its lovely products created by Voya Seaweed Baths along the coast – and definitely don’t miss the outdoor seaweed bath on the deck overlooking the river; even on a chilly Irish day, it is both therapeutic and luxurious. A full range of treatments is on offer.


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£
137

per night

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Ballyfin

County Laois, Ireland

10
Telegraph expert rating

Ballyfin is one of Ireland’s finest country houses, now restored to life with remarkable grace, and reopened as a luxurious hotel. Privacy is the rule here; no part of the estate is open to the public, and the secluded surroundings encourage relaxation. The beauty of the house and its park, and the stratospheric standards of hospitality here, makes Ballyfin a truly remarkable place. The hotel spa includes a heated indoor pool, vitality pool and sauna. It also offers a full range of therapy treatments.


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£
700

per night

InterContinental Dublin

Dublin, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

A handsome, friendly spot: come here for luxury, style and impeccable service in spacious surroundings a 10-minute taxi ride from the city centre. It’s a great choice for weekending couples in need of a little pampering; business travellers seeking excellent facilities; and families after space and comfort. The swish spa features a 14-metre pool, hot tub, good gym and a relaxation area with herbal teas and daily newspapers on offer; plus treatment rooms, sauna and steam room. Espa is the brand of choice.


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£
234

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The Shelbourne Dublin

Dublin, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

The Shelbourne Dublin is the grand old lady of the Dublin hotel scene. Stylish, opulent and utterly distinctive in a Victorian style, the property has glowed on the northern side of St Stephen’s Green since 1824. The main bar is a popular fixture on the city’s social scene, while afternoon tea in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge is something of a Dublin tradition. An excellent range of facilities is offered, including beauty salon, and smart barber shop in the basement. The spa area is delightful, complete with treatment areas, a gym, a top-lit 18-metre pool and a wonderful relaxation space, with park views and cocktails.


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£
250

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The Cliff House Hotel

Ardmore, County Waterford, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

The hotel, with Michelin-starred dining, superb Atlantic views and striking modern architecture, clings to a cliff on the south side of Ardmore Bay. It’s very modern, with a ’boutique’ feel rather than a country house or explicitly rural one. The ace card here is the architecture of the building itself and its simply stunning views, through walls of glass. It’s a feel-good place, full of light. Of course, the full spa experience is indoors and it’s pretty special, complete with vast windows, infinity pool and a full range of treatments, plus in-house beauty products available for purchase.


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£
199

per night

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Adare Manor

County Limerick, Ireland

8
Telegraph expert rating

While Limerick isn’t one of Ireland’s foremost holiday destinations, Adare Manor’s 842-acre estate provides a resort feel. Beside the grounds, it’s a pretty village with a terrace of photogenic thatched cottages and smattering of pubs. Activities on offer at the hotel include expert-led falconry, archery and fishing. Furnished in 19th-century style, well-sized Classic Rooms feature king-sized beds, marble bathrooms and minibars stocked with complimentary snacks and soft drinks. La Mer spa has a sauna but no steam room; a shallow plunge pool but no lap pool and a basic gym.


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£
280

per night

Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa

Wicklow, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa offers top-notch facilities and excellent service, but the smart and beautiful Espa spa is the hotel’s stand-out asset. It’s enormous, ranging over two floors and opening onto the hotel gardens – but intimate and relaxing too, and decorated in soothing shades of cream and muted gold. There’s an excellent gym, 24-metre pool (its tiled floor studded with Swarovski crystals), hammam suite, and a impressively wide range of treatments – plus a Spa Café, and a delightful relaxation room with wide views of the Wicklow landscape.


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£
151

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Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa

Cork, County Cork, Ireland

9
Telegraph expert rating

Surrounded by the natural beauty of West Cork, the Inchydoney Lodge & Spa is in a superb location overlooking the Atlantic on Ireland’s spectacular south coast. The service is super, and there are wonderful facilities: the spa is a top attraction with its heated seawater pools, comfortable relaxation areas and heaps of treatments. There’s a surf school on the beach, kites are available to borrow for windy days and you can order a picnic on sunny days. Indoors, you’ll find open fires, a Netflix room, library, snooker room and tranquil residents’ lounge with views and plenty of books.


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£
168

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Cliff at Lyons

Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland

8
Telegraph expert rating

This one-of-a-kind hotel on the banks of the Grand Canal is set in a tiny village meticulously restored by aviation tycoon and co-founder of Ryanair, the late Dr Tony Ryan. Service is friendly and eager to please; each of the 39 rooms, suites, apartments and self-catering cottages is different; and amenities are plentiful. The restored Carriage House is a charming setting for The Well in the Garden Spa, where the theme is botanical with signature organic products and impressively deft therapists. There is a fleet of bikes for freewheeling down the mostly car-free towpath, and various excursions can be arranged – even a barge trip.


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£
111

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Contributions by Aoife O’Riordain & John O’Ceallaigh