In need of a pre-winter detox before the cold sets in? We travelled to four of the most blissed-out detox destinations in Ireland to find the best, most secluded spots to recharge body and mind …
Ard Nahoo, Dromahair, Co Leitrim. A county with no traffic lights is a good place to start if you’re looking to get away from the constant distraction that is city living. So, after one particularly hectic week, I headed northwest to Leitrim for two days’ downtime at Dromahair’s much-lauded Ard Nahoo.
I arrived in the dark to a cosy wind-turbine-powered eco cabin warmed by a wood-pellet stove, and, after a cup of tea and homemade bread, I was happy to be horizontal. The next morning I woke to quiet, sky and forest: perfect.
We eased into relaxation mode with a morning session of yoga, followed by a brunch of fresh and energising vegetarian food. “Uisce Hour” – which consists of a sauna and hot tub overlooking the lough – was lined up for the next hour. Later, we got together for a juice and afternoon walk, where numerous trees wore lichens – a sure sign of fresh air! A restorative yoga session brought us into the dark, and we finished the day eating dinner as a super-chilled group, before strolling back to our cabins under a blanket of sparkling stars. Sheenagh Green
Upcoming retreats include the Yoga and Detox Retreat, October 2-4 (from €310), and the Yoga and Relaxation Retreat, November 20 – 22 (from €299), Ard Nahoo.
Voya Seaweed Baths, Strandhill, Co Sligo. If you’ve never had a seaweed bath (getting tangled in a clump of kelp while swimming doesn’t count), the first thing that strikes you is how silky the water is – Cleopatra in her milk bath has nothing on this emollient indulgence.
In the shadow of Sligo’s quirkily distinctive Knocknarea, Voya’s baths (and the stunning local scenery) have made Strandhill a favourite de-stress destination. Hot water releases the wild organic seaweed’s bounty of rich essential oils, making for a luxuriant and surprisingly fragrant bathing experience. My skin felt butter-soft and satin-smooth afterwards, but the benefits don’t stop there: seaweed baths can help with ailments as diverse as rheumatism and eczema, and the hour-long steam/bathing treatment is a superb stress buster. Sharon Miney
Voya and Strandhill Lodge & Suites offer a Seaweed Bath Escape package deal – two nights in a double deluxe room with balcony and two seaweed baths, €149 per person, Voya Seaweed Baths | Strandhill Lodge and Suites
Lake Isle Retreats, Derrylin, Co Fermanagh. I was on the lookout for a low-key, rustic retreat when I came across Lake Isle Retreats in Fermanagh, a small rural hideaway where you can regain your physical and mental strength through yoga, t’ai chi and meditation – while enjoying an intoxicating feast of Eastern food and traditions.
We arrived at Lake Isle’s Mandala House on a dark Friday evening, after a surreal drive through fog-covered fields, with a full moon beaming down eerily on the lakes. To welcome us, there was a warming dinner – a preview of the gorgeously nourishing but feather-light food we were to be treated to all weekend. We then experienced the magic of a moonlit t’ai chi meditation session, followed by mantras sung by candlelight with our host, Tim, and Shelina, our wonderful yoga teacher.
The second day was an active affair, with an early-morning trip to Inis Rath Island to visit the Hare Krishna temple. We joined its residents for a traditional Vedic prayer ceremony to the beat of Bengali drums and Indian kartal bells. Next up was a walk at nearby Florence Court Estate, weaving through swaying, creaking moss-covered pines, jumping over streams and sinking our boots in the dewy grass. Diana Nacu
Upcoming retreats include the Women’s Relax & Restore Retreat, September 18-20, €229 per person, and the Mindfulness Meditation Retreat, €185 per person, Lake Isle Retreats.
Tankardstown House, Slane, Co Meath. The moment we entered Tankardstown House, my husband and I (sans kids and technology, for one night only) were transported back in time – a time pre-mobile, tablet or laptop, in fact. The hotel is old-world, with friendly staff and a welcoming fire to greet us, and it as been restored in a beautifully detailed, painstaking manner. We stayed in the Library Suite, one of seven heritage rooms in the main house, with a stunning four-poster bed, loads of books (yes, books!), an old writing desk and lit candles (plus welcome modern touches like a Nespresso machine).
I felt like a princess getting ready for dinner in front of one of the two gilded mirrors in our vast bathroom. The restaurant, Brabazon, is located in an old stone outbuilding. We opted for the seven-course tasting menu prepared by the very talented head chef, Robbie Krawczyk. The food was truly magnificent, beautifully presented, and bursting with flavour. After dinner, we headed back to the main house for a drink at the honesty bar – another quaint touch harking back to bygone days.
Well rested, we headed back to Brabazon for a very tasty breakfast next morning. It was a bit too cold for a dip in the hot tub, so we opted for a stroll in the walled garden and through the woods before heading home, thoroughly restored. Tankardstown House is out of this world – making it easy to switch off for a complete refuge from city stress and to escape the madding crowd. Marlene Wessels
Upcoming detox specials include the Revitalise at Tankardstown package, from €165 per person, Tankardstown House.