Ireland's green landscapes, craggy mountains, lochs, fishing villages and sparkling seas provide the perfect backdrop for wellness. From boutique boltholes and castles to Gothic-inspired properties, Stylish Spy shares Ireland’s best spa offerings.
Best for: leaving the kids at home
Monart Destination Spa, Co. Wexford
An 18th century adult-only property set in 100 acres of countryside, Monart House is Ireland’s only destination spa. As well as a statement pool - with tree-top vistas through floor-to-ceiling windows – there’s a thermal suite containing a Kneippe cure pool, salt grotto, caldarium, sanarium, outdoor log cabin sauna and hydrotherapy pool. Treatments go beyond the norm: Rosacea Facial, Water Lily Wrap or Callus Foot Peel anyone? Don’t miss a walk around the property’s ever-so pretty gardens - with central lake and bridge – or a healthy lunch in the spa café.
Best for: sea farers
The Well by The Sea, Co. Waterford
From custom spa products that are 100% natural - including seaweed, carrageen moss and Irish peat - to a treatment room facing the sea, Cliff House Hotel is a boutique hotel offering a true seaside spa experience. Breathe in that fresh sea air whilst enjoying a bathing therapy overlooking Ardmore Bay, swim lengths in the sleek indoor pool - with sea views - or enjoy a seven-course dinner at the Michelin starred House restaurant. If outdoor pursuits are your thing, try paddle boarding or sea kayaking.
Best for: holistic treatments
Fota Island Spa, Co. Cork
The wellbeing concept at Fota Island Resort Spa – set on its own private island on Cork Harbour - focuses on energy restoration, holistic relaxation and pampering. Spa treatments range from the nourishing (Voya scrubs) to the nurturing (BASQ NYC maternity treatments) with some sublime thrown in. You’ll need a full day to swim in the indoor pool, relax in the hydropool, walk around the spa gardens, heat up in the thermal suite, work out in the gym or practise your backhand on the tennis court. The Cork Hotel provides spa breaks with family-friendly accommodation and three restaurants.
Best for: four-legged friends
The Spa at Castlemartyr Resort, Co. Cork
There’s one major advantage of having a spa housed in a two-storey glass cube: views. In the case of The Spa at The Castlemartyr, those views include the resort’s beautiful grounds (all 220 acres of them) and the manicured gardens. Dip in the 20-metre pool, work out in the oversized fitness facility or enjoy a treatment from Germaine De Cappuccini. The 18-hole links golf course, club and shop attract guests wishing to perfect their swing; Castlemartyr Resort is one of the only Irish spa hotels to welcome pooches.
Best for: river views
Chill Spa at The Ice House, Co. Mayo
If the idea of soaking in a bathtub overlooking a river flanked by brightly painted houses fills you with joy (and frankly, why wouldn’t it?), then book in for an Outdoor Bathing Ritual at The Ice House’s Chill Spa, where a bath of salt water, seaweed or mud will be pre-prepared. More views can be enjoyed from one of two outdoor hot tubs or The River Room, with its loungers facing the water. After a skin nourishing spa treatment by VOYA or Yon-Ka, relax in the Snooze Room with its bright orange Himalayan salt wall.
Best for: eco lovers
The Spa at Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo
Ashford Castle is the first castle hotel in Ireland to achieve the GREENMark Plastic Smart Standard Award for eliminating all single-use plastic from customer-facing areas. The two-storey, multi award-winning luxury spa – housed in an attractive glass annex – is as ornate (think chandeliers made entirely of shells) as it is calming, with loch views from its pool, steam room, fitness suite and relaxation room. Few spas work with as many product houses as Ashford, with spa treatments and finishing touches from B Africa, Elemis, Natura Bissé, OPI and Voya.
Best for: outdoor facilities
Galgorm Resort & Spa, Co. Antrim
Few spas can claim to have as many facilities as Galgorm’s ever popular spa (we stopped counting at 25), many of them dotted about three gardens (alpine, riverside, walled) or beside a bubbling river. Don your robe and hop between hot tubs, hydropools, Jacuzzi pools and wood-fired riverside hot tubs (bookable ahead) before warming up in the glass Celtic sauna, river-view steam room or domed Elements cafe. The fun continues inside with an indoor swimming pool, snow room, aroma grotto, Hammam, mud room, Lanconium, Orangerie and more. Just a 30-minute drive from Belfast, the only thing you need is time.
Best for: landscape lovers
ESPA at The Europe, Co. Kerry
The five-star Europe Hotel occupies an enviable position in Killarney National Park, with the Macgillycuddy’s Reek mountain range reflected in a vast loch (try saying that after a few pints of Guiness). Unsurprisingly, the luxury hotel has been built with vistas in mind, through its elevated position, overuse of glass and suites with private balconies. The spa is equally well-appointed with an outdoor pool overlooking the water, comprehensive thermal suite, vitality pool, gym, indoor pool and fitness studio. ESPA takes care of the treatment menu with a good range on offer.
Best for: nature lovers
The Spa at Farnham Estate, Co. Cavan
It's widely believed that nature and wellbeing go hand-in-hand, so a spa set in 1,300 acres of countryside – with ancient forests, rolling meadows and pristine lakes – ought to come up trumps. Add an 18-hole golf course, contemporary accommodation and healthy cuisine to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for relaxation. The 44,000sq metre spa doesn’t disappoint, with its indoor/outdoor infinity pool, relaxation areas and mint-infused thermal suite. Treatments from ever-faithful ESPA – from detox wraps to regenerating facials – complete the offering.
Best for: fans of Center Parcs UK
Aqua Sana Longford Forest, Co. Longford
Scooping Best Spa in Ireland one year after opening put Aqua Sana Longford Forest firmly on the Irish map. In true Aqua Sana style, the newest of the Center Parcs cluster offers 21 experiences over four zones in a double-deck, contemporary glass and wood spa building. Visitors will need several hours to experience the outdoor pool, large selection of thermal experiences – from saunas and steam rooms to rainforest showers and hot tubs – and several relaxation areas and snugs. Make a real day of it with a treatment and lunch in Café Vitalé.
Best for: design aficionados
Muckross Park Spa
A Gothic-inspired spa in an area of outstanding natural beauty might make about as much sense as a chocolate fireplace but the team behind Muckross Park Spa make it work. Designed to reflect its natural surroundings, the spa is the epitome of monastic elegance with wrought iron staircases and arched windows. Swim in the indoor pool, wallow in a variety of whirlpools, take afternoon tea on the deck or relax on a four-poster bed in the middle of a lake (yes, really). Guests can also book in for an Organic Pharmacy facial, a Lava Shell massage or a signature Muckross Diamond Ritual.
Best for: golfers
The Thai Spa at Lough Erne Resort
With its five-star hotel, lakeside water sports, two championship golf courses, self-catering accommodation, 3 AA rosette restaurant and spa, Lough Erne Resort has all the ingredients for an Irish break. The Thai Spa is the place to go for Asian-inspired therapies – including a traditional Thai massage – as well as luxury ESPA spa treatments. Each spa journey begins with a session in the spa’s Crystal Aroma Steam Room, Light Therapy Sauna and Tropical Rain Shower; post-treatment relaxation can take place in the Sabai Sabai Room (for light relaxation) or the Deep Sleep (for snoozing).
6th July 2022
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes