“ Address: Porterstown Road / Castleknock / Dublin 15 / Tel: +353 01 640 6300 „
Castleknock Hotel and Country Club is a four star hotel with leisure facilities located on the outskirts of Dublin, approximately 20 minutes by taxi from the airport (Euro35) and a 15 minute cab ride to the centre. It is not ideally located for sightseeing in central Dublin but that wasn't our purpose. I was here to catch up with some old friends that were now scattered across globe for a girlie spa weekend. We did look at other spas in the area but thought this offered the best deal. Having visited Dublin three times previously I wasn't bothered about being close to the action, the weekend was to be about catching up, getting pampered and drinking wine.
We picked this place out as it offered a 'Girl's Night In' package which included Bed & Breakfast, an evening meal in the Brasserie restaurant, and two spa treatments - a 30 minute facial and a 30 minute anti-stress back massage per person costing Euro145 based on a twin share. We added in an extra night's Bed and Breakfast and dinner for Euro75, so we were staying Friday and Saturday nights. As hotel guests we also got free use of the gym and pool facilities and 10% off any further treatments. The hotel has a golf course and offers golf packages, they also deal with corporate events as well as weddings and other functions.
ARRIVAL AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The hotel is quite remote and in a country location with a massive car park out the front, the hotel itself is a very modern building with three floors (ground, first and second floors), a spacious lobby with a coffee shop and open plan lounge and bar areas. There were large flat screens showing the football as it was World Cup season. The check-in desks were located just around to the left, opposite the lifts.
There was a slight delay checking in as there were a few people ahead of us, but the staff were polite and apologetic and checked us fairly quickly. We were given key card each and our rooms were a few doors apart on the second floor. The hotel seemed to be disabled friendly and family friendly.
Our rooms were located a little way from the lift lobby so it was a small trek and an annoying one when your key card didn't work and you had to go back to get it reset, as inevitably happens at some point. The hotel has 143 rooms and we had Standard class ones. Lights/fans etc are activated by the key card. The rooms were a good size and were simply furnished in a modern style and all our rooms were the same. We had good sized twin beds with bedside tables, a desk/dressing table with a flat screen TV and a wardrobe/drawer/shelf unit with a security safe, as well as extra blankets. The hangers were the annoying ones where the hook is attached and you have to wiggle the hanger part off and then attach it again. The bathroom was also a good size with a bath as well as a separate shower cubicle.
EATING AND DRINKING
It was 3pm after we had checked in, so we headed down to the large open bar/lounge area to get some bar snacks as our dinner wasn't booked until late. I had the spicy potato wedges with garlic mayonnaise, for Euro3.25. In spite of the dreadful rate of exchange, I though that this was good value as it was a generous portion of lovely chunky wedges and extremely garlicy mayo. The next day I had a toasted sandwich here, starting at Euro6.50, they are served with some crisps and a salad. We also had our first bottle of wine. They start from Euro22, which was a bit pricey with the exchange rate, although we had a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Rose for Euro26.50 which was lovely - fruity and smooth. They also sell wines by the glass as well as a range of beers and cocktails. The Lime Tree bar seemed to be a bit smarter and exclusive but was closed for private functions both days we were there.
The Brasserie restaurant is where breakfast is served between 7 and 10am and where we had dinner. It is an open, modern space with art deco touches. They have a carvery here at lunchtimes. The breakfast is self service with a range of hot foods for a traditional cooked breakfast including the most gorgeous herby crispy potatoes as well as a good range of fruit juices, fruits, cold meats, cereals, yoghurt etc. The waiting staff will check your room number and seat you, bringing tea or coffee and toast. We were warned that the breakfast got busy after 9am but we never really had a problem.
On the first evening they seated us in the smarter Park restaurant as they were not busy, although we still had the same menu. We could upgrade to the Park menu if we wished, Euro20 would be deducted from the Park menu per person as that is considered the equivalent value of our inclusive meal. None of us felt the need to change, although the steaks tempted some, but were considered too pricey compared to the more than adequate equivalent offerings on the Brasserie menu. To get to The Park you need to walk through the Brasserie, it is smarter and more elegant, with lots of large bouquets of lilies, plants and fabric covered chairs, as well as some odd art on the walls. The Brasserie menu was small, with five or so choices for each course, but quite varied options. I really enjoyed the leek and potato soup with home-made roll, it was flavoursome and comforting. For my main course on the first night I had vegetable lasagne, it was served in its own oval dish and was full of chunky vegetables. The salad it was served with was quite bitter, but overall I quite enjoyed it but I found it a bit too much to finish. I passed on dessert this evening. The restaurants stop serving at 10pm, but the staff, who were always polite and helpful, didn't seem to mind too much when we tripped out at midnight, slightly squiffy, the last ones to leave. The menu was the same the next night which was disappointing. As a vegetarian I only had one option, so I asked the waiter if they could do something else for me - they offered me a lovely tortellini in a vegetable and tomato sauce. I also had a carrot and coriander soup which was as delicious as the one from the night before. This time I managed a dessert - although only ice cream.
The Tonic Health and Day Spa is open to the public, and located to the right of the hotel, you access it through a small door and then you will see signs for the changing rooms (communal) with separate showers. We didn't use the small gym but it didn't seem busy, even on a Saturday. We enjoyed drifting about in the kidney shaped pool and popping into the Jacuzzi as well as the steam rooms and sauna. It is more for relaxation, with windows looking out onto the golf course. You must wear a swimming hat in the pool and they sell them for Euro3. There were never more than four or five other people in the pool area whilst we were there, but they had only four loungers. Just up some stairs is the Beauty treatments area. I had also booked a cocoon treatment which was Euro40 (before guest discount) which lasted 40 minutes, they apply a body scrub all over your body to get rid of any dead skin cells, After a quick shower they then slather you in soft body butter. I also booked a mini pedicure for Euro30. Whilst not as intensive as a full one it satisfied my requirements. Again the service we received was excellent. All the girls here were professional and friendly.
CHECK OUT AND OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
Check out on Sunday morning was quite slow - all treatments had been added onto our room and this took some time to sort out before the receptionist could put them on the correct bill. We did get the opportunity to pay in sterling.
The hotel is part of the FBD group who appear to be only in the Republic of Ireland. Certainly is they had been based in the UK we would have booked up another weekend there and then. For what we received (overall I paid £242 including half board meals and treatments - drinks and lunch were paid for separately), I think we received value for money in a four star environment. It may not be the cheapest weekend, but it served its purpose of a little treat for us, we left feeling relaxed and refreshed.