One of Ireland's best-loved country-house hotels, this quiet, low-key retreat is a romantic, creeper-covered Georgian house, set amid pretty gardens with a splendid view of the rocky Burren hills and Galway Bay beyond. A row of purple Wellington boots in ascending sizes in the entrance porch is there to spare guests' footwear in the perennially damp garden: a detail typical of Simon Haden and his interior-designer wife, Freddie. The whiff of open turf fires pervades the air, while a charming and stylish mix of fine antiques, luxurious furnishings (including hand-tufted Connemara wool carpets and a Waterford crystal chandelier), and a collection of modern Irish art create an atmosphere of effortless, sophisticated elegance. Guest rooms are bright, airy, and uncluttered; choose between a magical view of stony hills and sparkling sea, or a ground-floor room with private patio garden. The Corkscrew Bar (after the approach road, the aptly named Corkscrew Hill, N67) is a peaceful haven for a predinner drink, and the restaurant is renowned. Little wonder this is the hideout of choice for many discerning celebrities.
Base of Corkscrew Hill, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland