These newly Michelin-starred restaurants in Ireland are worth hopping on a plane for

Mar 11, 2020

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It’s Ireland month at TPG U.K.! The Emerald Isle has so much to offer travellers, from the rugged coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way to out-of-the-way pubs with traditional music to glorious seafood and, of course, lots and lots of rolling green countryside. And with Saint Patrick’s Day falling on 17 March, it’s the perfect time to showcase some of Ireland’s best hotels, hotspots and places to explore. Stay tuned for more content and our readers’ insider tips throughout the month!

Ireland month at TPG U.K. proves that the Emerald Isle has something to suit all travellers — from people on a budget to those after five-star luxury castle hotels.

Irish restaurants are also making a splash — here’s a list of the newly (as of October 2019) awarded places to eat from the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2020, where to stay and some other things to do while you’re there.

Also, read our complete guide on how to get to Ireland using points and miles here.

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(Photo by David Soanes Photography/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Soanes Photography/Getty Images)

Aimsir (first two stars), Kildare

Aimsir restaurant in County Kildare focuses on ingredients grown or produced in Ireland. It completed the rare achievement of entering the Michelin guide with two stars on its debut less than five months after opening. English chef Jordan Bailey and his Danish wife Majken Bech-Bailey are the brains behind Aimsir where you can expect 18 courses of snacks, savoury dishes from both land and sea, finishing with a sweet selection of desserts and petit fours.

How to get there

Kildare is west of Ireland’s capital Dublin, so the nearest airport is Dublin (DUB), which is just 19 miles from Aimsir. Probably the most useful of all of the points and miles options is BA’s route from either London City (LCY) or London Heathrow (LHR) to Dublin (DUB). On peak days of the week, there are up to five daily return flights from Heathrow and up to six daily flights from City Airport. Thanks to BA’s Reward Flight Savers, you can get one-way flights to Dublin from just 7,500 Avios + £0.50 in economy from either LCY or LHR. There is also the option to use Avios with Aer Lingus.

When you land, hiring a car is a quick way to get to Aimsir. Avis is the official partner of British Airways Executive Club and you can earn 3 Avios per £1 spent, with a minimum of 500 Avios. If you rent for three days or more, the minimum goes up to 700 Avios. If you book online by 15 April 2020 for rentals until 31 May 2020, you can double up on Avios and collect 6 Avios per £1 spent with a minimum 1,400 Avios per three-day rental or more. You can also earn Avios with Avis’ sister company, Budget.

Read more: Second Cities: Destinations to add onto a trip to Dublin

(Photo courtesy of Aimsir)
(Photo courtesy of Aimsir)

Where to stay

If you are feeling lazy after your 18-course feast, Aimsir is based within the Cliff at Lyons hotel. This country retreat, which also houses The Well in The Garden spa has just 38 bedrooms spread out across rooms, apartments and cottages. Midweek rooms start from 165 euros/£143 per night and include a full Irish breakfast. There aren’t many hotels in nearby Celbridge, but a 10-minute drive away is The K Club, part of The Fine Hotels & Resorts programme available to American Express Platinum cardholders, which includes a late 4 p.m. check out, early check-in and a food and beverage credit to be used during your stay. Midweek rooms start from 242 euros/£210 per night.

Things to do

The area is known for its horse breeding so check out the Irish National Stud farm where you’ll find a Horse Museum and Japanese Gardens. Kildare town is home to St Brigid’s Cathedral, with a 12th-century round tower that offers panoramic views of the area.

The Greenhouse (second star) and Variety Jones (first star), Dublin

The Greenhouse on Dublin’s Dawson Street secured its second Michelin star, joining Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud as Dublin’s only two-star restaurants. The food at The Greenhouse is inspired by the finest produce available, treated with the utmost respect and cooked with passion. Chef Mickael Viljanen has been here for nearly eight years and has curated balanced lunch and dinner menus to suit all palates. A signature dish that has been on the menu for years is foie gras whipped into airy lightness topped with a Granny Smith apple gel, walnut and cubes of smoked eel.

Meanwhile, Variety Jones in Dublin picked up its first Michelin star, where you can find chef-owner Keelan Higgs in the open kitchen preparing original, refined yet unfussy dishes that burst with flavour, many of which are cooked over an open fire. The menu is a selection of plates over five, six or seven courses including snacks, warm dishes, cold dishes, pasta and family-style fare.

(Photo courtesy of The Greenhouse/Shane O' Neill)
(Photo courtesy of The Greenhouse/Shane O’ Neill)

How to get there

Dublin (DUB) is the nearest airport. In addition to the BA options mentioned above, there are also low-cost options from airlines such as Ryanair and Loganair from across the U.K. Dublin is one of Ryanair’s main hubs and has direct flights to Birmingham (BHX), Bristol (BRS), Bournemouth (BOU), East Midlands (EMA), Edinburgh (EDI), Glasgow (GLA), Leeds Bradford (LBA), Liverpool (LPL), London Gatwick (LGW), London Luton (LTN), London Stansted (STN), Manchester (MAN), Newcastle (NCL) and Southend (SEN).

Loganair, Scotland’s airline, operates flights from both Carlisle (CAX) and Inverness (INV) direct to Dublin.

From Dublin Airport there is the Airlink Express bus (you can buy tickets at the arrivals terminal) or a taxi from the airport, which costs around 40 euros/£35.

Where to stay

With both restaurants being in Dublin city centre, there is a wide variety of hotels where you can spend points. A well-located property for the restaurants is The Liberties Dublin, a Hyatt that is in a very historic part of Dublin with a local whiskey heritage (there are more than 40 distilleries nearby). Midweek rooms start at a World of Hyatt member rate of 125 euros/£108 per night, or 130 euros/£133 for non-members. Redemption stays for this reward Category 3 hotel start at 12,000 World of Hyatt points.

Things to do

Dublin has a lot to discover, whether you’re looking for a big night out or even if you are looking for child-friendly things to do. There are plenty of foodie activities to do as well like explore the Guinness Storehouse and experience one of Dublin’s food and drink tours.

The Oak Room (first star), Limerick

The Oak Room at upmarket Adare Manor got its first Michelin star, becoming the only starred restaurant in County Limerick. Chef Michael Tweedie focuses on Irish fare including a Tipperary quail with a quail raviolo. The setting is also gorgeous, overlooking gardens and the River Maigue. Michael and his team covered almost 3,000 km together on a road-trip tour of Ireland getting to know growers and farmers and building a family of suppliers.

How to get there

Shannon International Airport (SNN) is just a 30-minute drive away. From Shannon (SNN), there are nonstop flights with Aer Lingus to Birmingham (BHX), Edinburgh (EDI) and London (LHR). Ryanair operates nonstop flights to London Gatwick (LGW), London Stansted (STN) and Manchester (MAN). If you’re points rich, you can redeem Avios on Aer Lingus from various airports across the U.K. The best way of redeeming Avios on Aer Lingus flights is by heading to avios.com and booking from there.

(Photo courtesy of Adare Manor)

Where to stay

Adare Manor is one of Ireland’s top five-star luxury hotels, so a midweek entry-level room will set you back 360 euros/£313 per night, but nearby there are some excellent Airbnb options like this two-bedroom cottage by the river nearby Adare Manor.

Things to do

Limerick is an interesting blend of city and country. The breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, 15th century Bunratty Castle & Folk Park (a short 20-minute drive) and Killarney town are all within driving distance from Adare. Limerick City (Ireland’s first City of Culture) is also worth a visit as it is the third-largest Irish city full of Georgian architecture and grand museums.

Bastion (first star), Kinsale

Bastion is an intimate 50-seater restaurant in this charming seaside town and has just won its first Michelin star and is one of two Cork eateries to join the Michelin Great Britain and Ireland guide for 2020. Chef Paul McDonald and his restauranteur wife Helen run this contemporary Irish restaurant, using as much local produce as possible where all principal ingredients are of Irish origin. An eight-course tasting menu is on offer for all diners, but save space for a moreish Guinness sourdough with treacle.

How to get there

Just 13 miles from Cork Airport (ORK), Aer Lingus and Ryanair are your best bet. Aer Lingus has flights from Cork (ORK) to Birmingham (BHX), Bristol (BRS), Edinburgh (EDI), Glasgow (GLA), London (LHR) and Manchester (MAN). Ryanair has routes between Cork (ORK) and Liverpool (LPL), London Gatwick (LGW) London Luton (Luton), and London Stansted (STN).

(Photo by Marius Roman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Marius Roman/Getty Images)

Where to stay

Kinsale has a whole host of accommodation options and better still, you can earn Avios. You to earn up to 6 Avios for every £1 spent with every hotel booking at hotels.com. In order to earn Avios, you need to book via this link where you can add your British Airways Executive Club number. Our recommendations include The White House or The Blue Haven — both busy and buzzy local restaurants, bars and hotels.

Things to do

Kinsale is a leading Irish tourist attraction and the southerly starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way trail. As well as exploring Kinsale town centre, a waterfront walk is a great way to see the area. A five-minute drive will then take you to Charles Fort on the water’s edge at Kinsale Harbour. To work up an appetite, a walk around a beautiful coastal headland called the Old Head of Kinsale is one of West Cork’s most spectacular walking routes. Scilly Walk is also another beautiful route that takes you all along the estuary in the town. Finish with a pint at The Bulman pub with lovely views of the marina from across the water.

Honourable mention: The Muddlers Club (first star), Belfast, Northern Ireland (U.K.)

Given this Northern Irish eatery isn’t technically in Ireland, it gets and honourable mention. The Muddlers Club in Belfast became the third Northern Ireland restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Named after the secret society that met there over 200 years ago, chef and owner Gareth McCaughey hand picks ingredients daily from the best of homegrown Irish produce, offering an enticing tasting menu (that caters for vegetarians and vegans) and a lunch menu, too. The open kitchen provides a sense of theatre and allows you to look on as Irish ingredients are transformed into masterpieces.

How to get there

Muddlers Club is just 19 miles from Belfast City Airport (BFS). There are a plethora of options flying to Belfast from other cities in the U.K., with EasyJet and Ryanair if you are looking for a low-cost route. From the airport, you can take a local shuttle bus into Belfast or grab a taxi for around £25.

If you prefer, you can fly into Dublin Airport (DUB) and then get a bus or train or drive to Belfast. It takes about two hours by car or 2.5 hours by bus from the airport. If you are in Dublin, you can also take a train from Dublin to Belfast, which also takes about two hours.

(Photo courtesy of The Muddlers Club)
(Photo courtesy of The Muddlers Club)

Where to stay

There are many hotel options in Belfast with two good Radisson Rewards options: the Radisson Blu at 44,000 points (or around £69 midweek) per night and the Park Inn at 38,000 points (or around £62 midweek) per night. If the Belfast Titanic museum and other Titanic Quarter sites are your prime reason for visiting, then you might want to stay in the Titanic Quarter so you can easily walk to all the sites in this area, although you can walk to the Titanic Quarter from central Belfast if you stay at the above Raddsions, which are a five-minute car ride away or a brisk 30-minute walk.

Things to do

Belfast is probably best known for being where the RMS Titanic was built. Today, Belfast is a lively historic city that is less crowded than Dublin with its famous Titanic Quarter, pubs, museums, hundreds of street murals, gardens and much more. A great way to get around is with hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses. The Cathedral Quarter, named for St Anne’s Cathedral, is the city’s historic trading quarter and is packed with Victorian architecture, cobbled streets, and quirky little pubs. If you are there on the weekend, Tea on The Titanic is well worth doing. Step back in time to a period of luxury, elegance and five-star service with a Sunday Afternoon Tea in the opulent Titanic Suite by the Grand Staircase which is a detailed re-creation of the grand dining room on the Titanic. If you have time, the Antrim Coast drive north from Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway is well worth doing for breathtaking views.

Bottom line

Ireland’s unique climate of mild summers, winters and soft rain creates world-class produce from some of the creamiest milk to fresh seafood. There are currently 21 Irish Michelin-starred restaurants all over the island of Ireland — including Northern Ireland — showcasing the best of Irish produce.

Featured photo by mikroman6/Getty Images

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