Kilashee House Hotel & Spa
WHAT'S IT LIKE?:Formerly a convent (and once touted as a great location for a prison) the sprawling 19th Century buiding is a hidden treasure in the heart of the Kildare countyside.
GETTING THERE: Dead handy. It's just 30km from Dublin, outside Naas.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: It's a lovely bolthole, with 280 acres of historic gardens, walk ways & parkland. There's also a lovely Jack & Jill Foundation Garden, just outside the door.
AND THE ROOMS? Very spacious, with the usual modcons and dreamy beds.
FACILITIES: Excellent – full gym, 25m swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and Villa Spa with 18 treatment rooms. There's also a hair salon onsite, if that's your kind of thing. If you want something more thrilling, there's an off-road driving centre run by Dynamic Events next door.
ENTERTAINMENT: There's two restaurants, Turners, overlooking the fountain gardens and the more casual Jacks Bar & Bistro, with live music in the latter every Friday & Saturday night.
The Snug at Killashee House Hotel is a traditional Irish Pub where you can take a step back in time surrounded by open turf fires, admire the many trinkets, antiques and memorabilia from bygone days and of course enjoy an expertly poured pint of Guinness.
WHAT WE LIKED: Jacks Bar has a warm and welcoming mood on a winter's night – and the barbecue courtyard looks enticing for the warmer months. The Harry Potter-style sinks in the bathroom bring you straight back to your school days – so that's either a good or a bad thing.
WHAT WE DIDN'T: It was a fair hike to our room from reception, so make sure to book something more central if you're not up to it. Phone reception was patchy in the big old buiding.
ANY DEALS: Plenty of pamper or dining specials, but if you're stuck for time the best rate is from rom € 110.50 per night, including full Irish breakfast. Unusually for a four star, you order your pancakes or full Irish and have it served – which is a nice touch.
To book: See www.killasheehouse.com or call 045-897277.
– MARK EVANS