A Monart virgin - the original review

**Summer 2015**

This review is long overdue. I visited Monart destination spa for the first time in the Summer of 2015 and it was amazing. Few places or experiences live up to all of the hype and sometimes you can arrive having expected a little too much. Not so with Monart. It was everything I had heard it would be and more. I only wish we could have stayed longer than two days. 

 

We pulled up to the old house, having announced our arrival at the electronic gates, to be met by lovely staff who took our bags and our car keys and promptly took the car off out of sight for three days!

 

Inside, we checked in at the gorgeous peaceful lobby in the newer part of the building and the receptionist gave us all of the information we would need for a relaxing stay. It's worth noting that dinner should be booked well in advance as the restaurant and the more casual wine bar fill up fast. It takes some getting used to but robes can be worn all day in any part of the building and spa (except the formal restaurant) and in fact, guests are encouraged to do so. It does lend Monart the feel of an upmarket sanatorium when adults are shuffling around in fluffy white robes and slippers but it's part of the experience. Adults is a key word here. I almost forgot to point out that it's child free and is a grown-up only spa. (I hesitate to say it's an adult spa as that has different connotations altogether...)

 

We ate in both the wine bar and the formal restaurant during our stay and both were fantastic. Although the food was obviously better in the formal dining room, the staff were equally as attentive and as pleasant in both. The restaurant is very reasonably priced for a fine dining meal with unexpected little amuse bouches. 

Breakfast is served in the dining room each morning and it was real highlight for me. I should say that about 90% of what I love about staying in hotels is a good hotel breakfast. Monart did not disappoint! Fruits, yogurts, all manner of baked goods, porridge, fish, continental cheeses and meats as well as hot options like omelettes and of course the full Irish if you're so inclined. Tea and coffee was served in silver pots with matching tea strainers and a silver creamer and sugar bowl on each table. I loved the feel of lifting the heavy solid teapot each morning to pour my Earl Grey! So much so that I'm on the hunt for a silver tea set myself (a search which took me from the two antique shops in Rathgar to the Spitalfields market in London but that's for another day...).

 

And so, to the treatments. Firstly, the therapists are more knowledgeable than any I have met before. I had noted my mild thyroid issue on the pre-treatment form and my therapist for my full body massage immediately brought it up when we met, asking whether I had an under or over active thyroid as it would affect the treatment. She also chose specific products and oils to ensure minimum thyroid disruption. For example, she discounted anything with seaweed in it as the iodine in seaweed can have a negative effect on those with an under active thyroid, like me. 

My other treatment was a full body scrub which I had before the massage. I have never felt so smooth or relaxed. My muscles felt heavy but in a really good way, like they were resting. Time out between treatments (or any time you like really) can be spent in the thermal spa trying out the various rooms like the outdoor sauna and the vitality pool. Not being much of a water baby myself, I spent most time in the upstairs dark room dozing after treatments or in the bright relaxation room with my own moisturising mask on. The relaxation room always had a bed available including folded fleece blankets and there was a constant supply of fresh water, mint tea and fruit. My only faux pas was that I brought a section of the Weekend Irish Times into the room only to realise later that the spa is a 'news free' zone. Daily newspapers (and plenty of them) are available each morning in the old house but guests are asked to enjoy them there and not to bring the real world into the news free cocoon of the spa area. 

 

We spent our evenings reading, chatting and drinking wine (just to undo all of the goodness from the day of healthy eating and drinking mint tea!) and one evening we sat in one of the reading rooms in the old house playing chess. They keep a selection of board games in there and there is a drinks service from the bar. Bliss. 

The down side? It doesn't come cheap. However, they have good packages online which can include treatments or meals and the restaurant is not particularly expensive, considering the quality of the food, presentation and service. In fact it's probably better value for money than the more casual bar which also serves food. 

Monart is well worth a visit for any other frazzled professionals out there (or frazzled parents, brides to be..anyone frazzled in any way at all really!) because it's a real escape from everything and it's a couple of hours in the car from Dublin. We basically floated home in a happy cloud of lotions and potions and I glowed for about a week afterwards. I don't even think I washed my hair for the three days we spent there, I just kept adding oil and hair masks to it and pinning it up out of my way before dinner! It's never been so shiny. 

I'm already planning a trip down with my Mum and sisters because, from the food to the decor, the treatments and mostly the staff, it was hands down the most luxury I've experienced in a hotel in Ireland.  I may need to revise this assessment after a visit to the newly refurbished Ashford Castle in October...but until then I'm raving about Monart as the perfect escape.