Pól Ó Conghaile: Six sneaky escapes within an hour of Dublin

I know plenty of parents who’d give their right arms for a sneaky getaway.

But bogged down in logistics, bouncing from working weeks to weekends running the family taxi, it’s hard to find the time to talk about a break, let alone take one.

Today, I’m looking at places within an hour (roughly) of Dublin – bankers you can get to and from within 24 hours. For the best prices, book a day off midweek, get a friend or relative to cover the sleepover and school drop… and recharge.

1. Tankardstown House

Book a manor room in this Blue Book bolthole for the full Downton Abbey experience, though there are cottage suites too. Nearby Slane Castle has upped its game – swing by for lunch or dinner surrounded by concert memorabilia, before a tour of its spanking new whiskey distillery. Tankardstown, Co Meath; B&B from €105pp. tankardstown.ie.

2. Ballyknocken House

Catherine Fulvio isn’t just a TV chef. She also runs a family farmhouse and cookery school, with creative packages including B&B and a ‘mountain top picnic’ for two from €169, or you can do a weekend night with a half-day cookery school for two at €394. It’s less than an hour from South Dublin to Glenealy, Co Wickow; ballyknocken.ie.

More: 25 Christmas hotel breaks in Ireland: Skip the stress with our 2018 guide!

3. The White Cottages

Previous winners of Georgina Campbell’s B&B of the Year, these family-run cottages face the sea in Skerries (ask for the ‘Harbour Master’ room) and they can do a couple’s picnic (€25pp) or fresh flowers, chocolates and bubbly (€50pp) too. Skerries, Co Dublin; B&B from €50pp; thewhitecottages.com.

4. Wicklow Lighthouse

Just the two of you in a storm-whipped lighthouse? It could be heaven… or hell. Dating from 1781, the Irish Landmark Trust’s granite tower sleeps four in two double bedrooms. Prices from €560 for two nights. Wicklow Head; irishlandmark.com.

More: 12 most unusual places to stay in Ireland – from bubble domes to a self-catering pub

5. Johnstown Estate

This creature of the Celtic Tiger has upped its game surprisingly under new ownership. Midweek spa breaks start from €299 for two sharing, including B&B, two 50-minute treatments, and dinner at the revamped Fire & Salt restaurant (try the lamb or one of the signature steaks with Himalayan salt). Enfield, Co Meath; thejohnstownestate.com.

6. The Dylan

Instead of escaping from Dublin, why not escape into it? The five-star Dylan is the city’s only entry in Mr & Mrs Smith, one of the UK’s slickest travel clubs. Ask for one of the new rooms, sup cocktails at the pewter bar, eat in or out (try Etto or Cirillo’s nearby), and you’re made. Rooms from €259. Eastmoreland Place, Dublin. dylan.ie.

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