Review: Kicking off December with a festive stay at Cork's uber-cool Montenotte hotel
Weekend getaways and mini-breaks are the perfect way to clear your mind, boost your energy and glam up your Insta feed. But which of the many hotel destinations around Ireland is the one for you?
We checked in to The Montenotte Hotel in Cork to give you the lowdown...
It happened as though in slow motion. The earring slipped from my hand, bounced once in the sink, then slipped through the plughole into the watery abyss below... Instantly sick to my stomach, I stood motionless, horror written across my face. I only own one valuable piece of jewellery – one real diamond – and I'd just let it fall down a drain.
In reception, the staff couldn't have been nicer. Although it turns out that these things don't happen all the time (the mantra I'd been repeating to keep myself from crying) so there was no tried-and-tested retrieval drill, the lovely Chloe accompanied me to my room and took the sink apart. Despite her heroic display of plumbing skills, and the efforts of the maintenance team the following day, the earring was tragically lost.
My diamond may be gone, but the staff at The Montenotte are true gems.
I can't think a word that better describes The Montenotte than 'cool'. Somewhere designed for youth and energy without a hint of stuffiness. And the decor – see below – is to die for.
The Montenotte's decor is EVERYTHING. At first glance, you might just think that it has that Gatsby-meets-industrial style that's in every bar that's opened in the past five years. But on closer inspection you'll find unique touches, from pictures and statues to a couch made from the front end of a car, that give the hotel tonnes of rebel personality. I honestly wanted to buy it/steal it all.
The Instagram spot
Filled with luxe decor and quirky touches, there's nowhere in this hotel that's not screaming to be photographed. Make sure that you get a selfie with one of the many colourful dogs dotted around the place (you'll find Donald and Hilary just inside the front door) then take your #boyfriendsofinstagram out onto the terrace for a full shoot. As well as a breathtaking view of Cork city and the River Lee, it has a host of colourful features that are made for the 'gram glam.
After stepping into The Merchant's Suite, we spent at least five full minutes walking around saying "oh my God". Split into living and sleeping areas, it's enormous – I've rented smaller apartments – and swoonfully decorated in mustard and cornflower blue. If you can tear yourself away from marvelling at the decor, the view over Cork from the wall of windows is captivating. The best bit? A fully decorated Christmas tree in the suite. Hands down the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in.
Large and decked out in magazine-worthy subway tiles, with twin sinks (site of my heartbreak). The toilet is in a separate room, where you can banish your other half while you relax in the bath.
If skimpy supplies are a bugbear, then this is the hotel for you. The bathroom is very generously stocked with shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, body milks and bath salts, as well as a dental kit, cotton pads and even individual mouthwashes (you'll also find mouthwash in the ground-floor bathroom for use after garlic-heavy dinners). The hotel's custom packaging matched the dog statue that was elsewhere in the room – the cuteness of that was almost too much to bear.
Not attached to the wall and possessing of enough puff to actually dry your hair. Points deducted for a curly flex that refused to be fully unwinds, but overall very good as hotel hairdryers go.
While the robe wasn't horribly scratchy, it wasn't soft either – it had seen the inside of a washing machine fairly often. (If it was a jumper, you'd be at the point of questioning whether you could still wear it to work.) Not overly generous on the fabric, making the split far more than thigh-high when my size 14 self sat in it.
Good lunch, good dinner, great breakfast. The menu here is more elevated pub grub than fine dining, but who needs fuss when they can have a proper feed? Plus, the view from the Panorama restaurant is good enough to distract from what's on your plate. For dinner I had divine black pudding croquettes (€11), followed by a solid pan roasted supreme of chicken (€23), and lovely lemon tart (€8) to finish. The highlight was the mushroom game. The lowlight was how uncomfortably close the tables-for-two are to each other.
The Bellevue spa is an oasis of calm in an otherwise buzzing hotel. The pink and grey decor is, of course, gorgeous. It's small in scale, comprising a handful of treatment rooms and a salon. The jacuzzi, sauna and steam room are in the health club, which is not connected to the spa – you'd need more than a robe on to run between them. I opted for the Lavender and Sandalwood Serenity Massage (50 mins/€85) and got a full body work-over that left me wanting to come back every week forever.
A single night's stay didn't give us enough time to investigate the 50-seater Cameo cinema, which has nightly screenings free to hotel residents, or have a swim in the wellness centre. Left wanting more, we will definitely go back.
The rainfall shower in the room was spacious but neither powerful enough nor hot enough to satisfy, no matter what way we twisted the bloody taps. Poor.
With a location overlooking Kent Station, you can walk from The Montenotte into the heart of Cork city in 15 minutes (take a taxi if you want to avoid the steep hills). The city is famous for good pubs and even better cafes and restaurants. They did not disappoint.