Inside information & tips on what to see, do, eat, & special places to stay; Ireland, London & beyond!
Vibrant Ireland

All posts in Spas Ireland

Farnham Estate pillows & bed

Ahhh, and relax! Snuggle up in comfort at Farnham Estate

Do you ever treat yourself to a stress-relief break?

Relaxation seeking or not, one of the best hotels I’ve been to in Ireland is Farnham Estate in Cavan.

 treatment room, Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

One of the treatment rooms, pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan.

Maybe you’re feeling good but want a treat, or perhaps your body has aches & pains, your mind feels frazzled, or your emotions have been a bit raw. I know when I went for an overnight at Farnham Estate I was less than rosy! I’ll use my achy & slightly frazzled self to illustrate in this review why I reckon you’ll enjoy Farnham Estate.

I wasn’t sure if visiting the spa would much benefit  my spine & shoulder pain, though I sure felt in need of a soothing break. But, YAY! The overnight spa break eased the pain and refreshed me greatly. I was on a tight budget and only availed of the indoor/outdoor infinity pool & the thermal suite, yet even without any hands-on spa treatments I felt better for days. Here are some reasons why you’ll enjoy Farnham Estate, too:

The stairway to bliss; ie Thermal Suites & Infinity Pool at Farnham Estate in Cavan, Ireland

The stairway to bliss; ie Thermal Suites & Infinity Pool, Farnham Estate, Cavan.

Total relaxation and comfort.

It’s not just the spa that makes you feel the cares of the world lifting, it’s the peaceful country estate surroundings, elegant historic building, and the friendly, capable professional staff. Yes, Farnham Estate is a beautiful, safe place to bliss out and rejuvenate. And sometimes we just need that!

“Going to a spa is a way of getting taken care of that is psychologically and culturally acceptable — and we can carry that feeling of being cared for with us for a period of time, and very often that can help us cope better with stress,” says NYU professor of psychiatry Virginia Sadock, MD via

Of course, you needn’t go with total relaxation in mind, you may want use the 4 star Farnham Estate as your base to explore and visit the Cavan area. (Do visit the Cavan Burren!) But let me warn you, once you get to Farnham Estate you may find it hard to part from it 😀

AHHH…Thermal Suite and Spa

Fancy a treatment? There’s a wide array, and the treatment areas looked fantastic. You can also have lunch in the spa, chillin’ in your robe. I didn’t do either of these as I was completely broke. (Same for why I didn’t eat dinner at Farnham’s main restaurant, Botanica. But the menu sounded bril, & they’ve won awards.) I did do all the free spa stuff though- it was ace! It made a nice difference to my aches and pains. Do try all the thermal suites!

Sunlight streams in through the sash windows in the Jr suite in the historic house part of Farnham Estate, cavan, ireland

Sunlight streams in through the sash windows. Jr suite in the historic house part of Farnham Estate

In the thermal suites there are several hot and cold therapies. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the more extreme ones, but I SO did. On the warm side there is the Reflexology Foot Basin, the Aroma Steam Bath, the Amethyst & Salt Room, the Laconium, and the warmest, the Finnish Sauna. In between rooms you can refresh yourself in the Snail Showers; I adored the Fresh minty one, gently zingy! On the colder side of things you can have a cool/cold rain Snail Shower, step through the Kneipp Walk which alternates temperatures, and coldest of all, the Ice Fountain. I was so surprised by the Ice Fountain; I totally enjoyed it! Perfect after the Finnish Sauna (which I also thought I mightn’t enjoy, but did! If you’ve not done a sauna, do try!)

Ice Fountain 

This is an ideal contrast to the heat treatments (sauna, steam bath)
The crushed ice stimulates the circulation and boosts the lymphatic and immune systems. The continuous falling ice and the refrigeration give a powerful and uplifting feeling, which is why ice fountains are used in medical spas to treat anxiety, stress and depression.
How to get the best results?
Take handfuls of ice flakes from the Ice Fountain and rub them vigorously all over the body, this contracts the pores of the skin rapidly, forcing out impurities. via

YOU GUYS, THIS WAS FAB! I did the rounds several times, and went back again next morning. It was then that I had a very special experience:

The Infinity Pool: a mist-ical experience!

Farnham Estate’s indoor/outdoor infinity pool can be used year-round as it is heated. It’s quite nice to paddle, water exercise, or swim, but for me the magic happened in the morning, in the pool’s outdoor section.

Outdoor section at night; Infinity Pool. Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

Outdoor section at night; Infinity Pool. Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

It was early Spring when I visited Cavan, so the mornings were still quite cool. When I went to the pool only a handful of folk were about, and none had gone through to the section outside. There, steam from the heated pool rose up to meet the mist and fog that had settled upon Ireland overnight. I lowered myself into the pool and headed to the divider between inside and out.

The cool fresh air rushed forward to greet me as I slid back the clear panel and it shut behind me. Suddenly I was enveloped in fresh mist. It was wonderful! As a robin sang out from the hedgerow, I turned onto my back and floated… just me, the caressing mist, the warm supportive water, and springtime birdsong. All I could feel and see was softness, infinity. No edges; not to the pool, not to the world around me. Bliss.


misty morning, Farnham Estate, Cavan, Ireland

The morning mist,, Farnham Estate

Will you be lucky enough to experience the same? Have a morning or evening swim– who knows when the mystical Irish mist may descend 😀  The Farnham Estate Spa is open daily from 8am to 9pm. Find out more about the Spa and the treatments available here.

Tip: If you are staying at Farnham, change into your swimsuit and (provided) robe & slippers in your room; the spa changing rooms are for day-spa guests. I wasn’t too sure it was okay to walk from my room in the historic part of the hotel and cross the lobby to the spa in my robe, but the receptionist reassured me that is exactly right. You know, sometimes in very nice hotels I get a little intimidated, and it is lovely when staff are warm & genuine when you ask (perhaps ‘obvious’) questions like that. You could think a place is gorgeous, but if you feel unwelcome, of course you’ll never go back. I felt very welcome.

Oh, and There’s Golf.

Tee hee (I’ll get my coat!..); what I mean is there is actually plenty at Farnham I didn’t experience. Golf is a big thing for many people, and Farnham Estate is big on golf.

Relax in grand style! The historic house lounge at Farnham Estate

Relax in grand style! The historic house lounge at Farnham Estate

Jeff Howe designed their course and that seems to be a good thing – LOL- I’m completely golf ignorant, but by the standard of what Farnham does elsewhere I reckon the golf is class!

You can also rent a bike for €15 a day, and there are 7 km of walking trails on the Estate. Or go fishing on their lakes- you can hire tackle for €15 at reception. They’ve a gym in the spa, too,  for fitness fans like my hubby Terry.

Time to Cocoon; Lovely Rooms

In both their modern and historic wings, Farnham Estate has very appealing rooms. I had a wonderful upgrade to a junior suite in the 400 year old Farnham Estate House. So lovely! I’m a huge fan of period properties, and the elegant, airy proportions of the Georgian era just seem to say: be at ease here.

The junior suite bathroom at Farnham is my favorite of any hotel I’ve stayed in so far; it just felt lush. The toiletries were divine; you’ll feel so pampered! A soak in the big beautiful tub, as well as a splash under the fantastic rain shower is a must.

The bed was enormous, sheets so smooth and soft; you’ll sleep like a log, especially after all your spa-ing! Of course, I say always bring earplugs (I find the squidgy silicon ones best) to any hotel. Especially in period properties where preservation doesn’t allow for elaborate sound proofing; you never know how noisy the other guests may be even if the general surroundings are quiet.

Standard room, Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan, ireland

The standard rooms in the modern section of Farnham Estate are lovely, too! Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

Everything you’d expect from a fine 4-star hotel is at Farnham Estate, and the suites have Nespresso machines; fantastic. I dearly wish other hotels in Ireland would follow suit; it is disappointing (and fairly yuk!) that many only have instant coffee. (So far the other hotel where I’ve found Nespresso is the affordable-fab executive room in Belmore Court in Enniskillen. Others have ground coffee & supply a French press, which is good, too.)

Delicious Food, Local Ingredients

Farnham Estate’s breakfast buffet will tempt you to eat yourself to bursting! There is a plethora of delicious options and locally sourced ingredients; plenty to make both veggies and dedicated carnivores happy. This breakfast impressed me, and in my brekkie experience is second only to the 5 star Hayfield Manor in Cork. That is high praise!

Hot breakfast items, Farnham estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland

Hot breakfast buffet looking and tasting good! Farnham Estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland

The dinner menu at Farnham’s AA Rosette winning  restaurant Botanica is mouth-watering, and the Wine Goose Cellar Bar seems a cozy place for a drink, but as mentioned I hadn’t the funds this stay to do either. Have you been? Tell us! I had a few folk via Twitter tell me that they love the Sunday Lunch there. You can find out more about dining at Farnham Estate here.

Special Offers

Special offers are the business! Certainly I can’t afford to stay 4 star without them, and Farnham Estate has good ones. They also have competitions, so sign up for their newsletter & follow their Facebook to stay in the know. (This is a good tip in regards to many hotels.) Farnham is also part of the Radisson Blu network, so I think if you a person who has Points, you get deals too; sadly on the subject of Points I’m as clueless as I am on golf!

One thing I do know, though, is I like the sound of this (current at time of writing) Special Offer:

Dine and Stay Two Nights

This package includes:

  • Two Nights accommodation
  • Super Breakfast Buffet each morning
  • Set Dinner in the Botanica Restaurant on an evening of choice
  • Unlimited use of the Health Spa’s Indoor/Outdoor Infinity Pool, Watermint Thermal Suite, Gym, Relaxation Rooms and 7Km of Walking Trails through the Ancient Woodlands
  • VAT and applicable taxes included

Midweek Rates from: €149.00 per person sharing
Rates are valid for Sunday – Thursday and are subject to availability

Weekend Rates from: €207.50 per person sharing
Rates are valid for Friday or Saturday and are subject to availability

So keep your eye out for special offers, and consider treating yourself to a break at Farnham Estate. It’s actually good for you 😀

So you know: I negotiated a special price and upgrade with Farnham Estate. I think it is always a good idea to go to individual hotel websites directly, and/or to talk/email to the hotel if you’re looking for their specials or are having an occasion such as a birthday or anniversary. Big booking engines usually can’t get you the same special deals in nice rooms. Worth a shot!

Photo gallery, Farnham Estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland:

Jump In! 

Happy seaweed foraging!

Gap of Dunloe Adventure!

**UPDATE** Due to Petal’s extended acute health crisis & (hopeful) recovery, we are not able to go on this trip yet. We hope to later in the year as it sounds wonderful!

We’ll visit Kerry’s Muckross Park soon, and Terry will do an all-day outdoor adventure.

He’ll canyon & kayak through the Gap of Dunloe, courtesy of Outdoors Ireland & Muckross Park Hotel and Spa. (Their Cloisters Spa is where I’ll be, whoop!)

Here’s the blurb on the Adventure Activity Terry will be doing:

Canyon & Kayak Through The Awe Inspiring Gap Of Dunloe

Journey through the ice carved and inspiring Gap of Dunloe, following the water course, from the highest height to the deepest pool.

By canyon and by kayak travel through stream, river, lake, gorge and track, using rope and trolley in places. Pass through five deep black lakes, full of history; and several cascading water systems.

Descending a height of one hundred and fifty meters and traveling a distance of six kilometres, this incredible journey in the untamed wilds of Kerry will give you an experience never to forget!

No Previous Kayaking Experience Is Needed

Price: €75 Per Person
9am – 4pm
Equipment Provided
Beginners Welcome

Terry is under instruction to take as many photos as he can; Kerry is a very beautiful place and I imagine on this trip he’ll be seeing amazing views not everyone gets to see. We both look forward to reporting back to you, and Terry will be tweeting some of his photos over on @FurnaceFitness, so keep an eye out. If you’ve any Kerry/ Killarney tips to share, do give us a shout! 🙂

Royale de Luxe Limerick City of Culture. Photo,Tom Swift

Royale de Luxe Limerick City of Culture. Photo,Tom Swift via


Limerick is full of excitement this year as City of Culture, and now Royal de Luxe Limerick Giants are coming!

A new video was launched today, specially created to highlight the flagship event of this year’s Limerick City of Culture programme, ‘The Giant’s Journey’. The event, presented by renowned French street theatre company Royal de Luxe, will take place over 3 days and 3 nights in Limerick this September. It promises to be a wonderful spectacle, and I reckon you’ll want to be there! (See link to map of the Limerick Giant’s path at the bottom of this post)


One Pery Square, boutique hotel Limerick city

SO relaxing! One Pery Square boutique hotel, Limerick city

If you are staying overnight in Limerick City (and you should, there’s lots to see & do!) I so recommend the gorgeous boutique hotel One Pery Square in Limerick’s historic Georgian Quarter. This has been the 3rd year in a row that we’ve stayed at One Pery to celebrate my birthday, and we love it. Ace rooms, food, wine & cocktails, super staff, Spa; it has the whole delicious package. Even if you aren’t overnighting in Limerick, check out their Brasserie One for Dinner or Sunday Brunch; or maybe Afternoon Tea. You can even combine Afternoon Tea with a visit to the Spa’s Thermal Suite. Heaven! (I could stay forever in that beautiful Spa..)

Anyhow, this is our favourite Special Offer at One Pery Square. It is a terrific deal, so much included! (See other Specials here)


2 Nights Wine & Dine Escape

Description : Enjoy 2 nights B&B, seasonal a la carte dinner in Brasserie One on one night with a bottle of wine to the value of €30.00.  An hour in the Spa’s Thermal Suite. Package also includes tea & scones on arrival and car parking.
A selection of sample dinner menus can be viewed on

Min Stay : 2 nights
From : €169.00 per night

So, Limerick Giants! A 60-second film has just been released featuring the giant, elaborate marionettes of Royal de Luxe winding through the streets of Nantes, in France – giving people a flavour of what to expect when this dramatic pageant comes here this autumn.

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Limerick%20Giants%20Royal%20de%20Luxe”]

Limerick is Ireland’s first-ever City of Culture  – and now the spectacular street theatre of Royal de Luxe is another wonderful opportunity to increase awareness of one of our favorite Irish cities as a cultural and historic destination.

Limerick has such a great vibe about it the past few years, and it keeps getting better. Particularly exciting is the Draw Out group and the fantastic street art that has been created around Limerick City by international giants in the scene, and by local artists and school kids. There are pieces gigantic and small all over Limerick. Check them out on Draw Out’s map here. Note: it doesn’t seem to show on mobile, at least not on my phone.

Excellent new street art is being added all the time, and Draw Out aims to keep the map updated fairly frequently. August 16-20 sees more artists arriving, so keep your eyes peeled! Limerick City street art

Draw Out’s Culture Night Tour

This is probably the most complete tour we have. This is an amazing option for those who want to cover as much ground as possible in one day, experiencing all of the urban Art in the city and getting an insight into the process of delivery for each piece.

September 20, 2.30pm

For a taste of Historic Limerick, try a Medieval, Georgian, or Angela’s Ashes walking tour with Declan, The Limerick Guide. Terry & I have done the Georgian walk with him, and though Terry pretty much went along to humour me, he ended up loving it. Declan doesn’t give you dry old facts, he shares interesting stories, and is a humourous, friendly guide. Another Limerick ‘giant’ of hospitality 😀  Declan’s website is here:

Speaking of taste, for a really tasty Asian dinner at a brilliant price, try Aroi on Limerick’s O’Connell Street. It is open at noon until 10.30pm, and we’ve found it delish, friendly & scrupulously clean both times we ate there.

street art on Limericks Paint Parade

Aroi is not far from the street art on Limericks ‘Paint Parade, by Bank place

TIP: Do note that if you’ve an egg allergy, you’ll need to ask for no egg in your fried rice dish, as they include egg as standard but this is not (yet) noted on the menu.


Aroi is associated with the eating experience in Asia. Pronounced (Aroy) means delicious or tasty.

Aroi is a casual dining venue which offers a single course dining experience and service with the minimum of fuss.

Our ethos is to serve market fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Our healthy cuisine avoids the obscure chemicals and additives so common in our food today.

Aroi sources authentic herbs and spices and we do not use M.S.G. in any of our preparation.

Have a look at the Menu at Aroi, Limerick

If I were you, I’d mark my calendar & get booking a place to stay for September 5-7 when those Giants will be in town 🙂

 Limerick Giants! Royal de Luxe

The world renowned company will unleash the Giant Saga on the unsuspecting Irish public – an original tale, developed and specially scripted for the city of Limerick. Limerick will be transformed as the massive Giant rambles through the streets, transfixing audiences for 72 hours of free entertainmentYoung and old will rub shoulders as they follow the Giant’s progress on its epic three day journey.

Already more than 18 million spectators have been moved by the universal sagas of the Giant’s stories and the ‘Limerick Story’ will soon be part of this international saga and make a mark on the collective memory of the city for future generations.

This project is partnering with local cultural organisations, local artists, technical crews and other Irish suppliers & supporters to realise this inspiring vision of Royal De Luxe.

Find out more at and the MAP of the Giant Granny’s path is here.

The first time we stayed at One Pery Square 3 years ago, I wrote this post. I’ll have one from our 2014 stay soon.

See what’s on at Limerick City of Culture 2014 

 Have fun in Limerick City!


Pimms at Afternoon Tea, one Pery Square

Pimms at Afternoon Tea, One Pery Square

light floods in to the beautiful Vanderkiste room
Absolute Bliss!
If you are looking to treat yourself, Limerick’s Georgian quarter gem at One Pery Square is a great choice! Maybe you hadn’t thought about visiting Limerick, but we found that Limerick City was a good base for exploring the West, and is an interesting place in its own right. (As rural folk, we tend to stay in cities on hols- just for the change.) For my birthday we splurged & booked the 2 night Gourmet Getaway package (great value, you get so much!) and every minute of it was wonderful. We took one of the period rooms, the Vanderkiste, which I highly recommend. Staying in such a gorgeous Georgian house it seemed to make sense to pay that little bit extra to stay in one of the period rooms, and it was so worth it!
(Tip: as One Pery Square is a listed building there are only stairs to the period rooms.)

Out to the garden terrace, or up the stairs to the period rooms

The room was spacious and beautiful, looked out onto the park, & the bed was incredibly comfy. The roll top slipper bath was inviting, & the excellent shower was large and very powerful. We also loved the peppermint & lavender bath items- natural smelling; not cloying or fake-y. Everything was, of course, scrupulously clean.

The Vanderkiste room, a few of the Drawing room & bar; 1 Pery Square

Dinner, wine, and after dinner port was included in our package, and we enjoyed every single bite and sip in the lovely dining room. From starter to dessert the food at Pery’s Brasserie One was full of fantastic flavour, interesting, and cooked perfectly. The service was superb, never hovering, but always there just as you may need it- attentive, knowledgeable and friendly. In fact, we both agreed that ALL the staff at One Pery Square were incredibly welcoming and helpful.– the whole team was excellent; genuine and warm. Juan in particular was so helpful at dinner, and assisted my husband the next day at Pery’s Wine Shop, picking out some delicious bottles to take home.

Wines from Pery’s Wine Shop
Gleaming Clean!
Hubby & I also had the funny experience of coming out of the respective restaurant toilets, looking at each other & hesitantly saying: ”Was that the cleanest restroom you have ever seen??” I’m not exaggerating- on the night we were there you could have eaten your dinner there– it GLEAMED! (and, no, we hadn’t drank more than a glass of wine yet!) 5 stars for cleanliness, and an extra 6th star because it was so shiny clean 🙂

We also had breakfasts included in our package, and once again everything was tasty and service was good. The menu isn’t massively extensive like Hayfield Manor’s but we had no complaints. I loved the honeycomb with my porridge. (see photo)

Brasserie 1 breakfast & dinner, 1 Pery Square


Bar, & Terrace Patio
One evening we had a drink on the garden terrace, which was a nice little oasis of herbs & plants- very inviting on a mild evening. The next evening was cooler so we had a few drinks in the bar- a cosy spot. Terry had a very tasty pint of Guinness, & I had a lovely French Martini- recommended by Juan as I wasn’t sure what I felt like having. We had great chat with Niamh, who was working the bar and connected reception; another example of the excellent staff– we really felt as if we were guests in her home, not that she was there because it was her job. Wonderful! I think that this is what a small boutique hotel is about- not just stylish rooms and good food, but a genuine, person to person experience.
Also as part of the package we had use of the thermal suites in the spa. Oh, it was bliss! If I’d realized how beautiful and relaxing this would be we’d have gone loads of times instead of just the day we were leaving. Don’t make that mistake! The spa is just gorgeous- candlelit, stone walls, lots of treatments could happily spend ages in it. My absolute favourite of the different thermal rooms on offer was the ‘herbal cocoon,’ which has a dryer type of heat, and the most gorgeous amber-ish aroma. The showers were once again powerful and enjoyable, and we had a nice chat with lovely Tracy on reception as she showed us what else was available.
Tip: if you are a couple check out the couple packages the Spa have- they are very tempting!

The garden & terrace- perfect for a nice g&t!


We’ve Found Our Favourite Place To Stay In Ireland!
We fell in love with 1 Pery Square, and recommend it highly. We felt the package we got was quite good value, and that staying in a period room was definitely the way to get the full joy of the place. (Oh, & also there is a lovely drawing room to chill out in- I forgot to mention that!) Additionally, from Pery Square you can easily walk into the the main part of town (abt 10 minutes.) As well as the park, the Limerick Art Gallery is just across the street, & has lovely fresh cakes & more in its cafe, too. We’ll be keeping an eye out for 1 Pery Square’s package deals, and hope to return to this fabulous, welcoming, boutique hotel.