Aran Islands, Galway bay, Ireland
Far from the madding crowd and bustling cities like Dublin and Galway, the Aran Islands – a trio of beautiful islands on Ireland’s west coast, accessible by ferries only – hold on to rustic Irish culture. It rises from the Atlantic in a tantalising topography that’s mostly filled with jagged limestone cliffs, bursts of rare, sweet-smelling wild flowers during spring (February to May), pastoral villages and breathtaking Celtic ruins. The poetic isolation of Inis Mór (big island), Inis Meáin (middle island) and Inis Oirr (East island and the smallest that got electricity in 1997!) is perhaps best described by Irish poet WB Yeat’s advice to playwright JM Synge: ‘Go to the Aran Islands, and find a life that has never been expressed in literature.’
These islands are small enough to explore on bikes. Do visit ancient structures like the prehistoric Dun Aengus, on the edge of a 100m-high cliff, and Teampull Bheanáin (the world’s smallest church). Around sunset, stop by a traditional restaurant to absorb the islanders’ native music – lilting narrations of folklore in Gaelic.
The three-star Aran Island Hotels offers bed and breakfast along with modcons like Wi-Fi from about Dh195 a night. Call +353 99 61104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Making waves this month is the Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s Women’s Month Stay offer. Packing in everything for the ultimate girly getaway, enjoy beauty sleep in rooms with fabulous views of the sea, 20 per cent retail discounts, room upgrades and Wild Wadi access along with a Talise Sun Spa treatment and afternoon tea at Palm Court. From Dh1,400 per night. Call 04 348 0000.
Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Oman
Everyone loves spontaneous trips to Oman for its rustic mountains and pristine beaches. This weekend going that extra mile pays off in more than views as the Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort offers a buy-one-get-one-free deal for UAE residents. Valid on rooms, dining, spa treatments and activities like snorkelling. From March 11-12. Call 02 477 6262 or email email@example.com.
Travel book of the week
Spectacular Ireland by Peter Harbinson
Take a pictorial tour of the country through this book’s pictures of magical castles and modern cities, accompanied by brief but illuminating text. Available on www.amazon.co.uk.
Style on the go
BANK ON IT You can never have too many power banks, and we’ve struck lightning-fast charging with this sleek Besiter model that is selling at Dh258 for two at E-City. It holds seven to eight hours of power, and comes with a nifty in-built torch.
PREEN IN GREEN Forget shamrocks, this Caprisa leather cross body bag is the choicest display of St Patrick’s Day spirit that also turns passers-by green with envy. The golden chain-strap will tether valuables down, safe from the prises of Dublin’s carnival crowds. Dh149 at Lifestyle
FLASK IN THE LIMELIGHT Whatever off-beat tracks your journeys take you on, stay safe from contaminated water by carrying your aqua in this cheerful-looking stainless-steel flask whose cap doubles as a drinking cup. Dh100 at Lakeland