Summer is over, the kids are back at school and your most recent holiday feels like a distant memory. We feel your pain, but we also know the remedy. Ireland’s Blue Book is an exclusive collection of country houses, historic manors, castles and restaurants; perfect for a relaxing autumn getaway.
With more luxury than a B&B and more character than a hotel, the locations listed in the Blue Book are unique, homely and elegant. Whether you want a romantic weekend for two, an overnight stay for birthday celebrations with friends, or a venue for an upcoming wedding; it acts as a nationwide escape catalogue.
The website allows you to search for your dream accommodation by location or activity; some of the country houses have spas, others have onsite golf courses, while a number offer expert-led cookery classes. What's more, by being included in Ireland's Blue Book, you can rest assured the hideaways are environmentally aware and maintain exceptionally high standards. Here are just some of our favourites:
Ghan House, County Louth
Built in 1727, Ghan House is a four-star, family-run guest house. Nestled among three acres of mature gardens (and a mere stone’s throw from the medieval village of Carlingford), it’s a beautiful location for a romantic getaway or small wedding. The Georgian building has been fully restored by its current owners and is in its 25th year of business (19 years of which they have received numerous awards and nominations). The on-site, award-winning restaurant utilises the herb and vegetable gardens; while the seafood, lamb and beef are locally sourced too. Considering Ghan House is just an hour from Dublin, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Ghan House, Carlingford, Ireland via Ireland's Blue Book
Blairscove House and Restaurant, County Cork
If you dislike crowds and fancy escaping to somewhere more tranquil; Blairscove House and Restaurant in Cork will tick all your boxes. This Blue Book destination is situated on the picturesque inlet of Dunmanus Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way; yet remains untouched by mass tourism. The restored courtyard is at the heart of the property. With its manicured shrubs and cobbled walkways, it's a favourite for weddings of 100 people or less. The award-winning restaurant is famed for its Irish meat grilled on a fire in the dining room; not to mention its mouth-watering selection of desserts. Meanwhile, the accommodation is decorated with a quirky mix of contemporary and antique furnishings, and a cosy on-site bar offers an extensive cocktail and wine menu.
Blairscove House and Restaurant via Ireland's Blue Book
Newforge House, County Armagh
This five-star Georgian country house was built in 1785 and has been sensitively restored by its current owners, John and Louise Mathers. The six individually furnished en-suite bedrooms blend antiques with contemporary comforts; what’s more, they offer views of the gardens and surrounding countryside. The food served here is first-class. Particular care is taken to sourcing local seasonal produce and meals are prepared to order by John, a trained chef. The small orchard provides fruits for desserts, chutneys and preserves, and is home to the chickens who lay eggs for breakfast. The guest house is central in Northern Ireland and is an ideal base for day trips to Belfast and the surrounding areas.
Newforge House, County Armagh via Ireland’s Blue Book
To explore the other country houses, manors, castles and restaurants Ireland's Blue Book has to offer, visit irelands-blue-book.ie.