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Forums Other Destination advice Cork Weekend Break – Trip Report

  • ExpatInBerlin 170 posts

    Thanks to everyone who gave recommendations for my weekend in Cork https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/weekend-in-cork-recommendations/ We had a lovely trip and it felt like a long time away even though it was only a two night stay. Hopefully the below will be helpful for anyone else who fancies a trip to Cork!

    I booked return EI flights LHR to ORK for the two of us via avios.com for 16,000 Avios plus £91.86 (saving £92 in cash compared to booking through BA!) Note this price point is still available following the very recent EI via avios.com devaluation. Tried a couple of methods to try and book seats for free in advance (no joy calling EI – they wanted payment – or trying their WhatsApp CS) but when I checked in we were 5E and 5F so not bad. The fare as booked through avios.com includes 1 x personal item and 1 x 10kg overhead locker cabin bag per person, EI did actually weigh everyone’s cabin bag at the gate to checked none were over 10kg! But it was plenty of room for two night’s worth of stuff. Worth noting you also get 1 x 20kg hold bag per person if you are going for a longer trip. We were on the 13:50 from LHR to ORK on Saturday and the return was at 20:30 on the Monday. Caught the bus from the airport to the city centre – note the buses don’t take card payment!

    We stayed at The Dean, an Irish hotel chain which also has properties in Dublin an Galway – we hadn’t stayed at one before but it had everything we needed for two nights. I had considered the Montenotte (part of SLH) but recent reviews suggested it was tired and not worth the price. The Dean is a modern hotel within 20 minutes walk of everything in the City centre and right next to Kent train station. The hotel opened in November 2020 and still feels new. Like Dublin, Cork hotels are pricey but we got 2 nights at The Dean in a standard room (plenty big enough with a king bed and lovely rain shower) for £291 using a 10% hotels.com discount (a much cheaper rate than The Dean was offering direct). Our room came with a record player and a few vinyls to play which was a nice touch. The hotel has a rooftop bar (we didn’t partake as it rained for most of our stay!) but we did get good use out of the “Power” gym and spa, which is free for hotel guests but also operates as a members gym for locals. The gym is sizeable and OH was very impressed with the extent of the equipment. There is a long thin pool and jacuzzi as well as a lovely sauna and steam room.

    The food was excellent for the whole of our stay in Cork. Our room rate at The Dean didn’t include breakfast and reviews suggested it wasn’t the hotels best offering so we instead had a delicious brunch at 51 Cornmarket one day and another very good brunch at SpitJack the next. We had an excellent dinner on our first night at Jacobs on the Mall, which is housed in a very high ceilinged old building which when we asked the waiter turned out to have originally been a Turkish bathhouse! The staff were wonderfully friendly and efficient and the freshly baked bread was divine. Can recommend the pan fried hake and the pork belly. On our second and final night we had another lovely dinner, this time at Market Lane (recommend booking a table upstairs which is quieter and feels a bit smarter than the downstairs eating area).

    In terms of sightseeing, we briefly popped in the Crawford Art Gallery (free entry) and enjoyed a walk through the city to the very pretty campus of University College Cork. The Honan Chapel is very simple and peaceful, it’s open every day. We enjoyed local folk musicians playing sessions at Sin é and watched a couple of the RWC matches in the Rising Sons Brewery, which is worth a visit if you like craft beer. On our final day we caught the bus to Kinsale and spent the day wandering the streets and walking around the River Brandon estuary to The Dock Bar. I resisted the temptation to buy some beautiful monochrome photography prints from the Giles Norman gallery, not knowing if EI would let me on the plane with a large framed print…

    Two days was plenty enough to see Cork and I’m glad we visited Kinsale. I would certainly visit this area again but would fly into Cork and hire a car, staying in a couple of different places to explore West Cork and Kerry. Ireland isn’t cheap, but Cork certainly felt easier on the purse strings than Dublin!

    WaynedP 260 posts

    Thank you, @ExpatinBerlin. Cork and environs are on our bucket list, so found your TR helpful and informative.

    Finally putting into practice long standing plan to visit the former DDR later this year, specifically Dresden, so may be seeking your further guidance in a separate thread, thanks.

    marshy11 225 posts

    Thanks for the insight, sounds like somewhere I should put on our list.

    ExpatInBerlin 170 posts

    @WaynedP and @marshy11 you’re very welcome. A couple of other things to note have occurred to me that may be helpful.

    Landing at ORK is brilliantly efficient. On your return, there is an Aspire lounge there, which we made use of using our Amex Plats. It’s seconds walk from all the gates which is the benefit of ORK being a small airport. At 7pm on a Monday it was half full and there was hot food but the usual basic lounge stuff, nothing special. The bar offering was fine, although everywhere in Cork seems to serve this really rubbish brand of tonic called Club, which I had never seen before! Bit annoying that you can end up with a lovely Dingle gin watered down with a sub-standard tonic (I know I’m splitting hairs, I’m probably just used to Fever Tree being the minimum standard in most London pubs nowadays!) The lounge staff are very friendly and there are floor to ceiling windows with views over the ground floor entrance area so it’s nice to have natural light.

    In comparison, when we flew out of LHR T2 on the Saturday lunchtime the Plaza Premium lounge was heaving and horribly stuffy with a combined smell of buffet food and toilet cleaner chemicals. Just FYI there are no toilets within the ORK Aspire lounge, you have to retrace your steps for a minute or two to use the terminal ones.

    One of the most pleasant aspects of dining out in Cork was not having a 12.5% service charged automatically slapped on the bill for middling to poor service. We had personable and efficient service everywhere (and many times asked for local recommendations which staff were only too happy to give) and then enjoyed being able to proactively show our appreciation with a tip.

    If I’d planned our trip further in advance rather than it being a truly last minute booking 5 days in advance getaway, I would have probably made it a three night stay with the last night in Kinsale to give us the opportunity to try some of its many well-regarded fish restaurants. Also, the bus between Cork and Kinsale stops at the airport!

    robkeane 73 posts

    “club” is a branding of soft drinks from irish firm Cantrell and Cochrane (C&C), the one most known is club orange, but yes they also do mixers. Wiki tells me they sold the soft drinks part of the business to Britvic some years ago.

    JDB 3,515 posts

    @ExpatInBerlin yes, Club is awful! It used to be distributed alongside Guinness which is why it was everywhere and maybe that is still the case although it’s now a Britvic brand. It was named ‘Club’ after the Kildare Street Club, a very smart men’s club in Dublin which commissioned an orange drink which was the original product. We have all got rather spoilt by Fever Tree, not only a good product but one that decimated its very long standing competitor. It is already a business school and even A level economics case study.

    ExpatInBerlin 170 posts

    To avoid putting off any gin-drinkers from visiting Cork completely, I hasten to add that all the restaurants we visited served Fever Tree! However, the pubs mainly served Club. Schweppes would be a significant improvement! It just seems a shame when plenty of high-quality gins are on offer. When I’m out but don’t want an alcoholic drink, the Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic (refreshingly light version!) is my go to, that and the elderflower are lovely on their own.

    Lady London 1,845 posts

    To avoid putting off any gin-drinkers from visiting Cork completely, I hasten to add that all the restaurants we visited served Fever Tree! However, the pubs mainly served Club. Schweppes would be a significant improvement! It just seems a shame when plenty of high-quality gins are on offer. When I’m out but don’t want an alcoholic drink, the Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic (refreshingly light version!) is my go to, that and the elderflower are lovely on their own.

    Exactly my preference @ExpatinBerlin. Nice review thankyou.

    Though I recently crumbled and tried Pink Schweppes (I don’t do pink drinks usually). Not the pink peppercorn one, but the one with the blackcurrant ingredient. It’s delicious.

    However if FeverTree is now overtaking Schweppes I’m quite glad. As the company that grabbed Cadbury Schweppes made promises about employment and commitment to the UK that they then promptly broke once they had acquired the company, so serves them right.

    SBIre 95 posts

    Thanks for the great trip report! You choose well – those are some great food choices! I’m delighted you made it to Kinsale. It’s a fantastic spot – especially if the weather plays ball!

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