The west coast of Ireland tempts tourists from across the globe with its epic landscapes, toe-tapping pubs, and a spellbinding history of legends and folklore. After thousands of years, the untameable Atlantic tides have moulded the coastline with towering cliffs and long stretches of deserted golden sands; hidden coves and waterfalls wait patiently for eager explorers. But what of its spas? Scarlet Spy finds out…
The five-star Europe Hotel & Resort occupies a sublime position on the shores of Lough Léin, Killarney National Park’s largest lake. The magnificent MacGillycuddy's Reeks Mountain Range – spanning 12 miles and peaking at over 1000 metres – reflects in its fresh waters. Unsurprisingly, this luxury spa hotel takes full advantage of its lakeside backdrop via an elevated position and floor-to-ceiling glass. Retreat to the ESPA Spa with its indoor infinity-edge swimming pool, indoor/outdoor Vitality Pool, and thermal suite including sauna, steam room, ice fountain and saltwater pool. Up the opulence and book the Private Spa Suite for two; this VIP spa experience includes your own steam shower, sauna and private changing area. Sink into the double bath and soak up those views through a picture window.
Surrounded by islands, inlets and hidden beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way, the Spa at Parknasilla has got location licked. And with the spectacular Kerry mountains as its backdrop, it’s an ideal nature lovers’ getaway. Take a dip in the fresh Seawater Vitality pool located on the pier or bubble away in one of two outdoor hot tubs set on the terrace with views over the tranquil Kenmare Bay. Inside, swim laps in the 18-metre swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling glass showing off yet more of those views over the 500-acre estate. The spa facilities include an aromatherapy steam room, herb sauna, salt inhalation cabin and experience showers. Luxury spa treatments come courtesy of Sothy’s; unwind to soft notes of cherry blossom and lotus flower with a Hanakasumi Body Ritual.
A bohemian harbour town surrounded by mountains, Dingle has Irish charm by the boat load. If that wasn’t enough, it’s home to the Peninsula Spa at Dingle Skellig Hotel. After warming up in the Finnish sauna and steam, bubble away in the hot tub with seaviews overlooking Dingle Bay. Keep your eyes on the horizon and you may just spot some resident marine wildlife – for who can forget Fungie the famous Bottlenose dolphin who drew the crowds to Dingle for almost 40 years? Spa treatments are ocean-inspired, too - choose between VOYA, who use organic seaweed hand-harvest off the Irish Coast, or French brand YonKa, whose plant-based natural ingredients are formulated by experts in phyto-aromatherapy - the art of healing through plants.
Perched on the banks of the River Moy, the award-winning Ice House Hotel’s Chill Spa gets a big thumbs up for its eclectic style, laid back feel and stunning location. But it’s the Outdoor Bathing Rituals that steal the show - sink into an alfresco bathtub filled with Himalayan salt, Atlantic seaweed or warmed spice mud, and soak in those Belleek Forest and Wild Atlantic Way views. More views can be enjoyed from the sunken Jacuzzis or The River Room, with its row of loungers facing the water. Couples will love the Outdoor Wellness Double Therapy Room with its private hot tubs and two therapeutic Gharieni Warm Quartz Crystal beds. After a skin nourishing VOYA treatment or facials from HydraFacial, relax in the Snooze Room with its bright orange Himalayan salt wall.
Fancy something a little bit more urban? Head to the G Hotel in the harbour city of Galway – the festival capital of Ireland - where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. The five-star hotel promises a stress-free sanctuary of unadulterated self-indulgence - sign us up. Designed by celebrity milliner Philip Treacy, this ESPA Spa is spread over two secluded floors with 12 treatment rooms. Unravel in the thermal suite with its vitality hydro pool, crystal steam room, lifestyle rain showers, rock sauna and cooling ice fountain before drifting off on one of the tepidarium loungers, heated to a toasty 40.C. Post-treatment, order a glass of something sparkling and head to the naturally-lit glass pavilion relaxation room, overlooking the rooftop Zen bamboo terrace.
Nicknamed ‘Ireland’s Forgotten County’, due to its remote location in the north-western corner, Donegal is for those in the know. Not only is it home a glacial fjord, Lough Swilly, you’ll also find Slieve League cliffs – almost three times the height of the famous Cliffs of Moher. But, most impressively, you can spa in a castle. Set within magnificent surrounds on the Wild Atlantic Way, the charming Lough Eske Castle hotel has a neutral palette, modern fine dining restaurant and glass doors opening out onto fairy-tale gardens. The CARA Organic Beauty Spa is located in a Victorian Glass House, home to a 19-metre indoor pool and thermal suite with all the essentials; you’ll fall hard for the glass-encased infinity pool with meadow views. Facials and massages come courtesy of ESPA and Anne Semonin.