The Montenotte Hotel, Cork
You’re damned if you are going to be the last one amongst your friends to get to Ichigo Ichie to eat Takashi Miyazaki’s kaiseki menus, and you have also been hearing great things about young Aisling Moore, head chef at the city’s Elbow Lane restaurant.
So, time to head south. We suggest two things: first, stay at the Montenotte.
Second, book well in advance: getting into these two city centre rooms is as difficult as it gets.
The views from the dining room and balcony of the Montenotte Hotel, high up the hill in Cork city, are entrancing, especially late at night when you sit sipping a gin and allow the lights of the southern capital to mesmerise you, as you remember Mr Miyazaki’s incredible mushimono, and Ms Moore’s wood-grilled rib eye steak with smoked cascade butter.
Blairs Cove House, Durrus
There is housekeeping. There is great housekeeping. And then there is Blairs Cove.
In Blairs Cove, you need a pair of Raybans to protect your eyes from the gleam and the glow and the spit and polish of the housekeeping. This is a house that is so well loved-up that you just can’t help but be bowled over by it, and the hospitality from Ann and Woody just drives home the sense of blissful comfort.
The cooking is top notch – there were no fewer than 24 starters on the buffet table on our visit – and breakfast, served in your room, is a treat for the ages. You will not want to leave.
The West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen
West Cork has some of the best Irish hotels – Fernhill House Hotel in Clonakilty; Sea View House Hotel in Ballylickey; Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff; Celtic Ross Hotel in Roscarbery; Inchydoney Lodge & Spa just outside Clonakilty.
But we have chosen Skibbereen’s venerable WCH for a simple reason: if you want to explore the starry cooking of Ahmet Dede in Baltimore’s Mews Restaurant, and Robbie Krawczyk’s cooking in Ballydehob’s Restaurant Chestnut, then the WCH gets you real close to both of them. With all the money you just saved on taxis, you can have a g’n’t in Levis Bar in Ballydehob and Bushe’s Bar in Baltimore. Winner!