Stuart Cohen

Encino, California Travel Agent

Falling in Love with Ireland

My wife Debbie and I recently took a familiarization trip to Ireland with Dream Escape, my favorite destination specialist for Ireland, Scotland and England, and we fell in love with the entire country, if that’s possible. Ireland has always been a favorite place of ours, but seeing it as a travel professional took me deeper than I thought possible into the beauty of the land and the people and the unique experiences it offers. We experienced a number of the top luxury properties and had the chance to build personal relationships with many of the hoteliers in a country that has some of the best historic hotels in the world.

We started out in Dublin, where we stayed at The Westbury, Dublin, located near St. Stephen’s Green and my personal favorite in the city. Our 6th floor luxury studio suite overlooked a lively street scene and had a four poster bed, custom wool carpets and soft mohair furnishings along with the most modern amenities like heated floors in the marble bathroom. Best of all, after exploring the city, we would come and relax in front of their roaring fireplace. And for families with kids, they provide teddy bears upon arrival, a kids’ afternoon tea and babysitting, if desired. Dublin is compact, so it’s a great city to explore on foot, and there’s so much to see, from the famous 9th century Book of Kells displayed at Trinity College’s Old Library, to the Dublin Writers Museum, featuring Irish writers such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats and Samuel Beckett. And then of course, the pubs are wonderful; many have live music and centuries of history.

Not to be missed is a stay at one or more of the renowned Irish castles that have been converted into luxury hotels. Rightfully, one of the most famous is the renovated 13th century Ashford Castle, where you can go on a forest walk with a falconer and Harris hawk, explore the countryside on horseback, and admire the historic architecture and decor. Many of the staterooms have four-poster beds and amazing views of the 350-acre estate and Lake Corrib. We also took an unforgettable boat trip out on the lake and enjoyed the music and stories of a local musician. 

Another of our favorites was Hayfield Manor, a historic hotel set with a walled hilltop garden in Cork with one of the city’s top restaurants right on site. It’s a 1- minute walk into town and across the street from the hotel is the University College, where Ogham Stones dating back to the 5th or 6th century are on display.

Since that trip, I’ve sent several clients to Ireland and it has been so satisfying to receive their postcards and praise when they returned!