CHANCES are, though you might not know it, you will already be familiar with the dramatic beauty of Wicklow.
Its lush landscapes, magnificent mountains and valleys have provided the backdrop to an abundance of movies from Braveheart to PS: I Love You and TV series like The Tudors — so much so, that it has been dubbed the Hollywood of Europe.
Star power and red carpets are also calling cards for Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa, a five-star hotel that lies seductively in the shadow of Sugar Loaf Mountain.
The hotel, situated close to Enniskerry, is located within one of the country's top estates in the Garden County of Ireland.
Surrounded by granite walls, ancient trees and rolling emerald hills, driving into the estate is an experience in itself, so much so that you might be tempted to do it more than once before check-in.
An architectural triumph
Powerscourt Hotel is an architectural triumph, with its elegant curves blending beautifully and seamlessly into the surrounding countryside.
There are 200 rooms, including 93 suites, in this grand hotel which loses none of its personality or personal touch due to scale and size.
Previously a Ritz Carlton, the property was bought earlier this year by an Irish hotel group in a multi-million pound deal.
Secluded bliss and escapism is what Powerscourt promises and that's exactly what it delivers, despite being just a 35-minute drive from Dublin Airport and closer still from the city centre.
And with the outskirts of the Wicklow Mountains National Park less than a half-hour drive away, it's an easy base camp from which to go for a spin and explore one of the country's most picturesque regions — home to the likes of Glendalough and the Sally Gap.
You might, however, find yourself hard-pressed to leave the luxury of Powerscourt behind.
The in-house ESPA spa has 20 treatment rooms from where you can indulge in a Powerscourt Signature Ritual with jade stones and rose quartz crystals (a two-hour treatment that costs around €165) or a Refining Enzyme Facial among other pamper delights.
There's also a 20-metre Swarovski crystal-lit indoor pool as well as a café and thermal suite.
If you're feeling more energetic, give the fitness room a go for outstanding views of the great Irish outdoors as you burn off those calories.
The bedrooms — complete with marble bathrooms — are magnificent. Step out onto a private terrace to enjoy the scenery or cosy up in your feather bed for the night.
There's also an array of gadgets, including electronic controlled lights and curtains, for the tech-inclined, all artfully integrated so as not to take away from the relaxing surrounds of your suite.
Darrin Parrish was installed as the hotel's new executive chef in July.
Originally from Sussex, he has been tasked with bringing out the best from the locally sourced seasonal ingredients served in the hotel's Sika restaurant.
On our trip, there was corn soup with popcorn and a smoked paprika tuile and Irish crab risotto, with lovage and dillisk powder on the menu for starters.
Main courses included lemongrass steamed sea bass or fillet of Irish Hereford beef with burnt onion puree, black olive, asparagus and confit potato.
We couldn't resist the theatrical chocolate sphere to finish complete with milk foam, crispy honeycomb, warm chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Located on the third floor of the hotel, Sika boasts floor-to-ceiling glass walls meaning you can take in the nearby mountains to the fullest while filling your belly with Irish fare.
If you fancy something a little less full-on, there's also the Sugar Loaf Lounge, where you can enjoy afternoon tea, a lighter bite or cocktail, or you can finish the night with a pint in the hotel's very own traditional pub, McGills.
A jewel in the Powerscourt crown is Powerscourt Waterfall, which at 398 feet is the highest in Ireland and located only a 6km walk from the hotel or 10 minutes by car if you'd prefer to drive.
Powerscourt also has its own specially designed 4x4 off-road course build around woodland trails, bogland and granite hills.
And there's the River Dargle walk where guests can meander along a 5km private woodland trail — laid by the Viscount of Powerscourt in 1868 so that his family could make the most the area in peace and comfort.
The estate itself was built in 1741 by Lord Powerscourt and Powerscourt Gardens — stretching over 47 acres — have been voted among the best in the world.
Guests can enjoy the formal gardens and sweeping terraces or wander alongside the ornamental lakes and secret hollows including The Walled Gardens, The Dolphin Pond, Pets Cemetery and Pepperpot Tower.
Pairing luxury living with landscapes almost too good to be true is Powerscourt's unique selling point.
If you're after a rural retreat, but don't want to forgo the frills, this Wicklow wonder ticks all the boxes.
See www.powerscourthotel.com for more details.