For sheer luxury and incredible service Cork's Hayfield Manor leads the way
They say money can buy fashion, but you're born with style.
Well within 30 seconds of arriving at the stunning Hayfield Manor in Cork city this saying had popped into my mind - and stayed throughout the duration of my stay.
Since opening in 1996 this amazing property has been recognised as providing one of the warmest welcomes in the city - as well as exceptional service.
From the top-hatted doorman to the staff at reception (who very kindly offered me a free glass of whiskey on arrival), the barmen and waitresses, I have NEVER met better hotel employees.
It's no surprise then that the hotel has received dozens of awards over the years from the likes of Georgina Campbell, RAC, IGTOA, Green Failte, AA and Good Food Ireland.
The estate, just a 15-minute stroll from the city centre, was originally owned by the Musgrave family, the famous Cork merchants.
The current owners, the Scally family, purchased the property from the Musgraves and established Cork's first 5-star hotel.
It remains a proudly independent hotel that is family-owned and operated, where service and exceeding the expectations of guests 24/7 is a real priority.
As a member property of two unique hotel collections, the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Ireland's Blue Book, this place simply oozes style.
The commanding double-wing oak staircase is centre stage when entering the building while the lobby's marble fireplace is original.
Georgian-style windows, thick carpets, antiques and intricate plasterwork details throughout the hotel add to the feeling that you are staying somewhere truly special and luxurious.
We were lucky enough to stay in one of the Grand Suites which came complete with a living room including three piece suite, massive TV and its own private bar.
The massive master bedroom has a large dressing area and hands down the most comfy bed I've slept in this year.
The beautiful bathroom boasts a double shower and a stand-alone bath with Elemis Spa products to enjoy.
Cork city is one of my favourite places in Ireland, full of wonderful pubs and great restaurants. But it is easy to see why some residents choose not to set foot outside the hotel during their stay.
Hayfield Manor has two main restaurants - Orchids and Perrotts. Orchids overlooks the beautiful private gardens and is a premiere Cork city gourmet restaurant, making any occasion special for guests.
Soft lighting and flickering candles create the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a spectacular meal prepared by executive head chef Mark Staples and his talented team.
Perrotts has a slightly more casual atmosphere and is situated in a bright conservatory, open for both lunch and dinner.
We grabbed dinner there on the Sunday night of our stay and can see why it's so popular.
We were still slightly full from a wonderful lunch in the hotel's Manor Bar but were able to make room for a Carrigcleena grilled breast of free range duck with garlic gratin, red cabbage and beetroot puree and a roasted East Ferry free range chicken supreme with an incredible goats cheese creamed mash and equally tasty sauteed cabbage and bacon.
Both main courses were truly amazing - as was the devilishly good cinnamon red wine poached pear we shared afterwards.
What made the meal truly unforgettable, however, was the staff in the restaurant who are among the best I have ever encountered.
No trip to Hayfield should ever be without a visit to their Beautique Spa.
There you will find an inviting 16-metre pool which overlooks the enclosed garden with sauna, steam rooms and an outdoor hot tub.
The haven of tranquillity - featuring Elemis products - offers a wide range of treatments for both sexes or as a couple, with many packages including lunch or afternoon tea.
My better half went for a Dynamic Resurfacing Precision Peel facial therapy, an Essie luxury pedicure and a one-hour hot stone massage and raved about them all the way back to Belfast.
Previous visitors to Hayfield Manor have included celebrities like Ant and Dec, Lionel Richie, Paul Simon, Billy Connolly and Liam Gallagher to name but a few.
I may not be quite as famous but I'm sure they - like me - can't wait to return.
Book a luxury escape to Cork now and receive 20% discount on bed and breakfast rates.
Enjoy luxurious accommodation in the beautiful surrounds of Hayfield Manor including full Irish breakfast and soak up the wonderful Manor atmosphere.
You will also receive €20 dining credit based on two people sharing which can be used towards a 3-course evening meal in Perrotts Garden Bistro. See www.hayfieldmanor.ie for more details.