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Capella Castlemartyr, Cork

After a manic week, the last thing I felt like doing was going through customs.

Little baggy to enter all little bags in? Don't have one. Liquids in purse? Yes I have many.

But by the time I made my way to the Aer Lingus terminal of Heathrow (calming), and had a beer in my hand (Guinness, which I don't drink, but I was going to Ireland, come on), the stress of London, and indeed the mahem of Oxford Circus, seemed already, miles away.

Upon arrival to Cork airport - I like small airports, no conveyor belt fighting, no need for signs at arrivals to find your host - I met my charming driver, who gave me an actual hug (ish), which didn't even make me squeam, and we started our drive to Capella.

Entering Capella, I was greeted by a beautifully lit 1000 year old castle (next to the main hotel), and instantly knew I was going to like it here, and indeed I did.

Why Capella?

If you're looking for a weekend away, that involves action (golf) as well as relaxation (spa treatments), in a updated, yet authentic Irish setting, this is it.

What they say:
The world-class resort includes an Auriga Spa, a Ron Kirby designed links-style golf course, gourmet dining and a 24-hour fitness centre.

What we say:
A contemporary/traditional hotel in the countryside, with all the modern cons, and impeccable service that you would expect from a five star.

It's hard to combine old with new, and at first I wasn't sure about the new wing of Capella, but at further consideration, this is as good as it's done. The main hotel retained all of the charm of yesteryear, and the new addition, built in a non-offensive wood, offered modern rooms, with high pressured plumbing, and high tech gadgets.

In the room- a pad beside the bed that turned lights on and off, and closed your curtains (so very The Holiday on amazon!), large bathtubs complete with inflatable pillows, multi-headed showers, and large dressing rooms with skinny mirrors and good lighting.

Other bits:
The architecture of the spa was gorgeous- glass ceilings, minimal beams, and sunlight- and the links golf course (designed by the renowned Ron Kirby) which wasn't finished is due to be one of the best. We loved the tartan blankets offered for chilly nights, and the personal PA who was offered to guests to organise, well anything that was needed.

And to eat?
So many options, so little time. Have breakfast in the Garden Room, a light lunch on the terrace of the Spa Cafe, a gourmet dinner at the Bell Tower (tasting menus are divine), and a nightcap and snack if needed at the Cosy Knights Bar.

Don't miss:
A massage with Shaun in the Auriga spa- he is seriously good and has the awards to prove it, or a nightcap/game of backgammon at the bar.

Anything else:
If you have deep pockets, and are travelling with a few, then their Presidential suites, complete with silk wallpaper and black marble bathrooms, are a good option. Decor is eclectic, a la Soho Hotel, and libraries are stacked with interesting reads, carefully chosen by the management.

What to do in Cork:
Like Whiskey? Try the Jameson tour. Or skip the tour, and buy a limited edition bottle, with you or your loved ones name engraved on it. We loved the Midleton farmers market. Especially the stall that had over 30 kinds of hot chocolate, vanilla pod and chilli oil hot coca anyone? We also loved the Farmgate restaurant in town. Why don't we have a local Saturday resto like this?

What to bring back:
Artwork as there are many artisans in Cork, and goats cheese, the varieties here were as good as they get. The organic selection of products in the Auriga spa was pretty good, too; handy should you have anything confiscated at the airport.

Factbox for Capella Castlemartyr:

A night's stay at Capella Castlemartyr (www.capellacastlemartyr.com /00 353
21 4219129) costs from 300 for a deluxe room, based on two people sharing,
and includes a full Irish breakfast. For more information on County Cork and
Ireland visit www.discoverireland.com



by ND
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