Three Christmas hotel stays for an unforgettable festive getaway


“Don’t be like the others, honey! This is the motto of the new Sketch cocktail bar at the Imperial. The iconic Cork hotel may have been overshadowed by recent hotel openings and renovations, but now a bar offers a new twist on a Cork classic, so I arrived last week to check it out. Situated along the leafy boulevard which is Cork’s own Park Avenue, the iconic Imperial Hotel looks so inviting on a chilly autumn evening, its leafy canopy sunbathing against its facade on the South Mall. The hotel is one of Cork’s most historic, dating back to 1816, and its old world charm is apparent once in the royal refuge of its lobby. Guests are greeted by an impressive two-story marble foyer, surrounded by an arched staircase, chandeliers, extravagant flower displays, and a mahogany reception desk. The atmosphere is distinctly corkonian, but dare I say the hotel has the finesse of a four-star Shelbourne?

Discussion Suite

I stayed in one of the Imperial’s second floor suites, a gorgeous corner room with a lovely view of the bustling South Mall. The bedroom is a Grand Dame affair par excellence; classic furnishings, crisp white linens, luxurious curtains, rugs and pops of color, and local wall art. There are also welcome touches like a Nespresso machine to give you an extra dose of caffeine before your next Christmas shopping spree while the in-room TV is also designed for Netflix and Disney Plus. The private bathroom is a bit compact, perhaps given its vintage feel, but the bedroom makes for a stylish urban escape overall. Elsewhere, the hotel has its Aveda Escape Gym and Spa to really boost your R&R factor.

Food and catering

My recording coincided with the launch of Sketch, the Imperial’s new cocktail spot, which had drawn a real who’s who (real question) from local influencers and Leeside glitterati. Sketch is an elegant yet irreverent space, offering the southern coziness of a Corkonian Great Gatsby setting: think wicker furniture and art deco decor, all enveloped in a jungle of fake figs and plants. There’s even a mandatory swing, illuminated by this headlining quote for the most important shares on social media.

From sharing posts to sharing platters, Sketch’s food goes with style; they offer delicious birdcage assortments of cheeses, cold cuts and haberdashery, all inspired by the English market, while the cocktails are punchy and imaginative: try the lemon meringue limoncello pie which is ceremoniously flamed at the table! For dinner, Thyme at 76, is a truly impressive restaurant that continues with the dazzling 1920s vibe while offering a sustainability-focused menu featuring delicious local seafood and steaks. Breakfast at the hotel is also served at Sketch which tempts with classic brunch options ranging from avo toast to savory omelets while Lafayette’s is the hotel’s very chic brasserie that offers lunches, afternoon tea afternoon – and just a New Orleans soup on the Lee!

To verify?

Don’t make me choose my favorite hotel in Cork now. From The Dean to The Montenotte, from The Metropole to The River Lee, Cork’s hotel market has never had more depth – and The Imperial rightfully ranks on the podium. I enjoyed a quality stay at the hotel and given its service, accommodation, food and ambiance, and would definitely recommend you shortlist it for your next stop in Cork. As for the offers, B&B rates at the hotel start from € 148 and suites from € 308. Check out their early check-in and late check-out options so you can also enjoy your shopping time in town.

I was a guest of the hotel for this review.

The Galmont, Galway

Put the spraoi into a shopping spree this festive season with a trip to Gaillimh, staying at the four-star Galmont Hotel & Spa. Just steps from Eyre Square, the hotel makes an ideal – and luxurious – base to relax, with an excellent party atmosphere, afternoon teas and spa treatments, and rooms overlooking Lough Atalia . B&B rates start from € 75 pps, but if you’re in the mood for someone else to baste the turkey this year, the hotel also offers Christmas residential packages: a two-night festive break including the B&B, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day lunch and a light Christmas Eve dinner starts from € 420 pps. If you’re traveling with kids, you can also head to the new Wildlands Adventure Center in Moycullen, which is launching its Santa Claus Village this Christmas.

The Granville, Waterford

Waterford City always offers great value when it comes to city breaks, so if you fancy a little bit of flash without splurging, maybe put the Granville Hotel on your Christmas list. This four-star hotel in the heart of Ireland’s oldest city is the perfect place to enjoy some Christmas shopping in the city by day, and to enjoy the Winterval Festival by night. In the evening, grab a table at the cozy Thomas Francis Meagher Bar and enjoy a Christmas glass from the Whiskey Wall made up of over 50 Irish whiskeys, or a handcrafted gin cocktail made with herbs from their own cocktail herb garden on the roof. The Granville hotel offers winter B&B rates from € 60 pps or from € 82 pps to include dinner one evening at the AA Rosette Bianconi restaurant.

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