Hayfield Manor’s new glass box bar brings the buzz outside

Irish hotels are giving their gardens and outdoor spaces new life with Insta-worthy talking points

Bloom at Hayfield Manor

Inside Bloom at Hayfield Manor in Cork

The Sea Rooms at Kelly's

The Montenotte's Glasshouse bar

The shipping container that became the centrepiece of the Park Hotel Dungarvan's garden bar

Mixing drinks at Hayfield Manor's Bloom

The Sea Rooms at Kelly's Resort Hotel & Spa, Co Wexford

Cocktails at Bloom

Pól Ó Conghaile

There’s a new glass box at Hayfield Manor in Cork.

Bloom is a garden bar in the five-star hotel’s courtyard. Floor-to-ceiling glass blurs the boundaries between inside and out, and its retractable walls and ceiling can bring a breath of fresh air along with your mojito or elderflower spritz... when the Irish weather plays ball, of course.

“Our courtyard garden is like a little oasis in the middle of the city, and it was completely underutilised,” says Hayfield’s Danielle Murrihy of a space bursting with botanicals, from menu designs to flowers hanging above the bar and marble tables decorated with hits of hibiscus.

“It’s a special, tranquil kind of spot but, at the same time, you have the buzz and the cocktails... it’s a balance of both.”

Inside Bloom at Hayfield Manor in Cork

Bloom opens Thursdays to Sundays, with summer cocktails starting from €17.50, brunch and tapas-style small plates available, and private bookings are possible, too.

Depending on your taste, you’ll already have your Insta out or be raising eyebrows at the sheernotions. But Hayfield joins a growing number of Irish hotels getting busy in their gardens.

The Park Hotel Dungarvan, which brilliantly transformed a battered old shipping container into a garden bar during Covid, is investing €150,000 in a new al fresco arrangement with civil ceremony area.

The Sea Rooms at Kelly’s Resort in Co Wexford is a glass cube adding a compelling new layer to its dining options. Killeavy Castle in Co Armagh is developing its walled garden studio into a space for events, yoga and cookery demos. Both featured on our Fab 50 list of the best places to stay in Ireland this year.

The shipping container that became the centrepiece of the Park Hotel Dungarvan's garden bar

Hotel green spaces bring to mind larger resorts, country houses or immersive spas like Monart or Galgorm. But this new wave of al fresco experimentation goes beyond that, taking the outdoor dining improvisation of the pandemic to another level, and often in tight spaces.

In Cork, The Montenotte’s €1m Glasshouse cocktail bar is a similarly showy space with epic city views. Though not exactly gardens, Dublin’s Shelbourne and Alex hotels also surprise guests with little terraces flush with greenery —the former’s is an unexpected little plaza with sky views; the latter’s Secret Garden tops its glass walls and bright, floral designs with a retractable roof.

The Sea Rooms at Kelly's

Gardens make us feel good. The benefits of nature and the outdoors were underlined during Covid. But spaces like Bloom or The Sea Rooms also add novelty and variety for guests, and a ready excuse for premium prices (hello, cocktails and tasting menus). As talking points, they bring a fresh pop of publicity, and can work for weddings and private business, too.

Thankfully, you can also forget freezing to death or expiring at first squint of sunshine — as we do in the yuck conservatories being ripped out across the country. Modern construction may cost a fortune, but it allows for really creative use of glass and other materials, and can result in far more energy-efficient spaces to boot.

“It’s not a trend that’s going away,” Murrihy says of outdoor dining and spaces that interact with nature. Bloom was designed “to bring the outside in and use the beautiful gardens all year round”.

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