Mary O’Brien reports back after a luxury mini break at Robin Hill Sanctuary in Cove.
I’ve been feeling a bit panicked this summer! Time is just galloping ahead and I can’t seem to rein it in. We arranged to do a house swap in France this year and what started initially as a few DIY jobs around the house in preparation have turned in to a marathon. A paint job in one room has snowballed in to the entire house. I think I’ve been swallowed by a tin of paint — so much so that it’s proving difficult to separate the grey hairs from the paint smeared ones, both of which are a result of my DIY frenzy. As I bewailed the cobwebs in every room, a close friend pointed out that it might have been easier just to dust! So, when the opportunity arose at the beginning of July to press the pause button, I jumped at the chance. An overnight stay at Robin Hill Sanctuary in Cobh with some self-indulging time out and pampering (away from my house) sounded like heaven.
Although the route planner promised it would only take 54 minutes to reach our destination, we were skeptical. Doesn’t getting to Cobh involve a car, train and ferry journey? Arriving an hour earlier than planned, we were proved way off the mark — Cobh is an easy car journey, only over the road from Fota Wildlife Park.
As we pulled in to the drive of Robin Hill, we were immediately impressed. Surrounded by mature trees with views of the harbour, the Victorian Grade two listed former rectory and original home of the Rushbrooke family in the 19th Century is the ultimate hideaway. Even before my treatment, the tension started to ease away.
Inside, we were transported back in time — the recently refurbished rooms reflecting the elegance of the Victorian era. A warm welcome and tea and homemade scones, served on pretty chinaware, awaited us in the drawing room. Due to our over-enthusiastic time planning, as ladies of leisure for a day, we had plenty of time to relax and take in our surroundings.
Robin Hill offers a range of holistic programmes designed by clinic director Deirdre Mackesy to nurture mind, body and spirit. She has succeeded in creating an environment, which promotes rest from the minute you cross the threshold.
We were booked in for the two-hour pamper specials. I went for the Urban Spa Deluxe, which included a full body massage, while my companion opted for the Face Reviver Spa Package. As we compared notes afterwards, we were both in agreement that it was two hours of ultimate bliss. My package started with dry body brushing and a lavender and salt glow scrub. Not a smudge of paint or dry skin was left behind. A one-hour full body massage that eased every knot and ache followed. I was pure jelly by the end of it!
My friend’s experience was similar. Just when she thought her treatment was over, another massage or cleansing routine started. Her facial used Dr Hauschka and Burt’s Bee products, both extremely nourishing for the skin. Her skin felt and looked hydrated and glowing afterwards. Her package also included an eyelash and eyebrow tint, so she looked ready for a night on the town, whereby I had a big oily relaxed head on me!
While she was waiting for me to finish, my friend popped downstairs for a cup of herbal tea, where she bumped in to a lady from Dunmanway in West Cork. It transpired that said lady visits Robin Hill on a regular basis for some R&R. “Sure it’s only up the road,” she exclaimed. “And the treatment you get here is amazing.” We had to agree.
As it was still early in the day, we decided to visit the gardens at Fota before dinner. Our state of total relaxation after our treatments is the only excuse I can offer for what transpired next. Yes, our minds quite literally had turned to mush. We spent the following two hours wandering around Fota Gardens looking for the Arboretum. We even asked the lady in the teashop what time it was due to close. I can only hope that in an everyday situation, we would have taken a small clue from the tea lady’s confused expression and reply that the Arboretum doesn’t close. For some peculiar reason, I had decided an Arboretum was a giant glasshouse. After an hour, my friend went one better, stating her solid belief that it had to be a giant arch made from trees. Eventually (thank heavens for smartphones and 3G or we’d still be there) I gave in and googled Arboretum. “oops, we’re standing in it.” The collection of trees we had been wandering in and around was the Arboretum. Overtaken by a fit of giggles, we headed back to the car. It’s probably a good thing that we don’t get pampered too often!
We enjoyed a lovely walk by the water’s edge in to town that evening for dinner. Delightfully exhausted from our treatments, excursion, a few glasses of wine, and a very thoughtful nightcap courtesy of our host Deirdre, we decided to turn in early.
Eight hours of blissful sleep later, we finished off our very enjoyable sojourn with a scrumptious breakfast in the dining room overlooking the garden.
It had been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, the ultimate getaway from the stresses of everyday life and one we would both recommend.
Robin Hill offers a range of holistic treatments and accommodation packages at very reasonable prices. For more information go to www.robinhillclinic.com.
Robin Hill House, Lake Road, Rushbrooke, Cobh, Co Cork. 021 4812222.