Head to the Emerald Isle for rest and relaxation

Kilgraney House, Co Carlow

Behind the lime-rendered façade of this classic Georgian manor house is a modern hotel with a twist. Antiques are interspersed with modern art and artefacts from around the world, creating an ambience full of warmth and character. The themed bedrooms include "Africa", with its wall-mounted tribal masks, and "Philippines", the windows of which frame idyllic garden views. Among the original features are the medicinal herb and walled kitchen gardens, and an apple storehouse that has been remodelled to house an aromatherapy spa.

Kilgraney House, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow (00 353 59 977 5283; www.kilgraneyhouse. com). Doubles start at €130 (£93), including breakfast.

Derrybawn House Hotel, Co Wicklow

About 40 miles south of Dublin airport you turn down the long driveway of Derrybawn House and find yourself in 96 acres of parkland framed by woods and the Wicklow Mountains. Built in 1728, the house is an Italianate mansion offering seven bedrooms that are furnished with great flair – from French colonial style to a "Viking" room featuring a leather bed shaped like a Viking helmet. There's a golf green on site as well as a massage treatment room.

Derrybawn House Hotel, Laragh, Co Wicklow (00 353 40 44 50 73; www.derrybawnhouse.com). The house is available to rent from €2,660 (£1,900) per night, including breakfast. Catering can be arranged for an additional cost. Sleeps 13.

Coopershill House, Co Sligo

Set in its own 500 acres of rolling farmland in the heart of Yeats country, this fine Georgian house has eight bedrooms furnished with antiques and family portraits while the corridors are lined with antler trophies and old prints. The estate has belonged to the O'Hara family for seven generations and retains the atmosphere of a grand yet relaxed country home, with added flamboyance: there are peacocks in the garden, while indoors an African grey parrot strolls around the ground floor and visits the drinks cabinet every evening.

Coopershill House, Riverstown, Co Sligo (00 353 71 91 65 108; www.coopershill.com). Doubles start at €208 (£149), including breakfast.

Delphi Lodge, Co Galway

In the 1830s the Marquis of Sligo built a sporting retreat in a beautiful location at the foot of Connacht's highest mountains. The resulting Delphi Lodge is now a 12-bedroom retreat where guests enjoy a house-party atmosphere, with gourmet meals served every evening around an old oak dining table. Delphi is also one of the finest game fisheries in Ireland and many visitors arrive with their rods. But fishing is not mandatory: others come for the walking or simply the quiet.

Delphi Lodge, Leenane, Co Galway (00 353 95 42 222; www.delphilodge.ie). Doubles start at €200 (£143), including breakfast.

Rathmullan House, Co Donegal

This elegant 1820s mansion is set on a three-mile stretch of sandy beach, one of the best in Donegal. Country pursuits range from sea angling, game fishing and surfing to hiking in the lovely Ards Forest Park or Lough Salt Mountain. You start from a supremely comfortable base – the 32 bedrooms are decorated in styles from Shaker to Cath Kidston and there's even a bedroom for guests and their dogs. Facilities also include an indoor heated pool, two tennis courts and a largely organic restaurant which has won a string of awards for its "slow" food.

Rathmullan House, Rathmullan, Co Donegal (00 353 74 91 58 188; www.rathmullanhouse. com). Doubles start at €198 (£141), including breakfast