With the Kerry mountains to one side and beautiful woodlands to the other (not to mention the Wild Atlantic Way just a short drive away), this hotel in Tralee, Co Kerry is the perfect destination for a romantic, intimate minimoon
Minimoons are all the rage of late. Typically the length of a long weekend, they give couples (not just newlyweds) an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
A minimoon is usually close to home; a staycation of sorts; which means there's no waiting around busy airport terminals or fussing about the Bureau de Change. Most importantly, they're about being with the one you love in a warm, intimate setting.
This month, I had the pleasure of staying in Ballygarry House Hotel & Spa in Tralee, Co Kerry; and already, I'm dreaming of a return visit with my significant other. The relaxed yet luxurious vibe is worth sharing with someone special.
Located between Ballyseedy Woods and the distinctive Kerry mountains in Tralee, Ballygarry House dates back more than 60 years. Originally a family home, the now family-run hotel still maintains all of its cosy nooks and crannies today; think country-style living rooms filled with tasteful art and bookshelves.
Related: Stretch the legs: 10 walks to do around Ireland this weekend
No matter where you go on the property; be it Owen Mac’s bar, the reception area or gardens, there's a quiet alcove to relax with your partner. Upon arrival, owner Padraig McGillicuddy (who is the third generation of the McGillicuddy family to run the business), said guests are encouraged to feel comfortable; it may be a four-star hotel but that doesn't mean you can't relax in your complimentary bathrobe.
The dining areas echo that atmosphere. Whether you choose to eat at The Brasserie (which was specifically designed as a relaxed, informal space) or the more formal Restaurant 58 (which nods to the year the hotel first opened), guests’ comfort is at the fore.
At dinnertime, I sat near the window in Restaurant 58, overlooking the landscaped gardens. During my main course (the char-grilled prime Irish steak; delicious), the sun began to set, casting a pink sky over the mountains ahead.
Throw in post-dinner drinks in a candlelit corner of Owen Mac’s bar, and it doesn't get much more romantic than that.
My plush bedroom, which was just down the corridor from the hotel's multi award-winning spa, overlooked the tall Sliabh Mish mountains. Warm, earthy tones made the space feel homely; while crisp linen sheets, antique furnishings and luxury toiletries made it feel elegant and stylish.
A pair of fluffy white robes were left on the bed, and with cookies and magazines on the coffee table, the room felt intimate and cosy. What's more, I was advised by staff that a range of DVDs were available to borrow from reception; perfect for cosy nights in with your other half.
How did I sleep? Like a baby. When the time came for breakfast, only the promise of an excellent cup of tea with a plate of Irish sausage and egg could get me out of bed.
Sometimes when you go away, even if you're with the love of your life, it's nice to have time to yourself. To me, that comes in the form of a spa treatment.
During my stay at Ballygarry House, I visited the on-site Nádúr Spa where I had booked a Lava Sea Shell Massage. The treatment, which lasts 60 minutes and costs €100, was unlike anything I'd ever tried before. Eco-friendly tiger clam shells were used to deliver a relaxing massage of both heat and touch.
My massage therapist used the polished shells (which are heated from the inside using a mixture of lava dust, sea kelp, sea salt and purified water) to massage me from head to toe. The result? Total, full-body relaxation.
Afterwards, I took time out in the relaxation room to sip orange juice and take in the view of the Kerry mountains.
Things to do
If you choose to stay at Ballygarry House for your minimoon, don't forget to explore the surrounding area too.
Ballyseedy Woods is right on the doorstep, offering a choice of woodland walkways. Whether you choose to take a leisurely stroll or borrow one of the hotel's bicycles, explore the Woods' native wildlife and historic castle ruins. Ballygarry House also has a selection of Hunter welly boots available to borrow should the (unpredictable) Irish weather take a turn.
Elsewhere, Banna Strand beach is a short drive away and is an ideal spot for anyone in need of some fresh, Atlantic sea air. Before returning to the hotel for dinner, take a detour via Crag Cave, which dates back over one million years.
Alternatively, if you're the type of couple who prefers to stay indoors, kick back and relax in Owen Mac’s bar. Not only does the bar offer signature cocktails, beers and spirits, but its quiet atmosphere (with open log fire and wood finish) is made for loved-up couples to unwind.
Pure minimoon bliss.
Photos: Ballygarry House Hotel & Spa
Read more: I lied to my husband and went to a hotel room in secret
Read more: Nine romantic films you’ve probably never seen
Read more: I'm now too old to enter the Rose of Tralee. What is THAT about?