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Seven Favorite Irish Castle Hotels

Seven Favorite P

As I am in the midst of designing a variety of trips, one destination that I create a lot of travel arrangements is in Ireland. One of the top requests for a visit to Ireland inspires this week’s article…

Seven Favorite Irish Castle Hotels

Nestled amidst Ireland’s lush landscapes lies a wealth of history: its vast array of castles. With over 30,000 scattered throughout the country, Ireland boasts an impressive abundance of these ancient fortifications. Some stand proudly restored, offering guided tours into the past, while others remain as picturesque ruins, evoking tales of bygone eras.

A select few have been transformed into luxurious castle hotels, inviting travelers to experience the charm of medieval life firsthand, and many of these are from the 12th to 16th century.

When people think about traveling to Ireland, one of the frequent requests is to stay in an Irish castle. We have a lovely and romantic vision in our minds about sleeping in a castle, and it’s one of those travel aspirations that lives up to our imagination.

Embarking on a journey to explore these castles and their environs promises an unparalleled experience. The allure of residing within the storied halls of a castle, where history whispers through every stone, is truly extraordinary. Moreover, many of these castles seamlessly blend their historical charm with modern amenities, offering a glimpse into the past without sacrificing comfort.

Among the myriad of choices, there are several that are my favorites and stand out as prime destinations for those seeking a departure from conventional accommodations.

Ashford Castle

Nestled in the picturesque Cong Village, the 5-star castle hotel of Ashford Castle stands as an example of timeless elegance. Once the esteemed residence of the Guinness family, this magnificent castle boasts 83 luxurious rooms and a rich history dating back centuries. Guests can dine in the same hall where King George V once feasted, indulging in fine cuisine amidst opulent surroundings. Set amidst expansive grounds, Ashford Castle offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including boat rides, fishing, and falconry, ensuring a truly immersive experience in Ireland’s majestic landscape.

Ashford Castle is about an hour north of Galway in County Mayo.

The movie “The Quiet Man”, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara was filmed in the town of Cong, and the stars stayed at Ashford Castle. A visit to Cong to tour sites from the movie can be fun excursion one afternoon.

Dromoland Castle 

Perched amidst verdant landscapes, Dromoland Castle exudes regal charm and sophistication. Home to descendants of Brian Boru, this historic castle captivates with ornate interiors and sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

The 5-star Dromoland Castle, steeped in history and elegance, boasts ornate interiors and breathtaking vistas. Home to the descendants of Brian Boru, its stately presence is complemented by luxurious amenities, including a fitness center and spa, and expansive grounds ideal for exploration. Guests can explore over 10 miles of nearby trails or indulge in activities such as falconry and archery. It also has its own golf course.

Dromoland Castle is only about 15 minutes from Shannon Airport, so it can be a fabulous grand finale to end a trip.

Dromoland Castle promises an unforgettable retreat in the heart of Ireland’s countryside. Here, guests can immerse themselves in the timeless charm of old-world hospitality.

Waterford Castle 

Accessible only by a private car ferry, Waterford Castle stands as a secluded sanctuary on a private island. Dating back to the 16th century, this intimate castle hotel boasts 19 exquisite bedrooms and stunning views of the Ancient East.

Guests can enjoy activities such as golfing on the 18-hole course or partake in the ancient tradition of falconry. With its deluxe suites and gourmet dining options, including the renowned afternoon tea, Waterford Castle offers a tranquil escape amidst lush landscapes and historic grandeur.

It offers the perfect mix of seclusion and convenience, as a quick ferry ride takes you to Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland, offering a variety of historic and cultural experiences. And of course, the opportunity to see the master craftsmen at the crystal factory and shop the extensive selection of patterns and glassware.

Kilkea Castle

Tucked away in serene surroundings, Kilkea Castle offers an enchanting escape with its blend of historic charm and modern comforts. It’s a little more than an hour southwest of Dublin, so it provides easy access to Ireland’s capital while providing a full castle experience.

With a refurbished interior and touches of luxury throughout, this castle provides an affordable yet elegant accommodation option. Guests can unwind in the restaurant, indulging in exceptional fine dining, or retreat to The Keep castle bar for a cozy evening.

Kilkea Castle offers 180 acres of grounds including woodlands and landscaped gardens. Surrounded by an 18-hole golf course and boasting its own spa, Kilkea Castle ensures a memorable stay filled with relaxation and indulgence.

Ballynahinch Castle

Set amidst a sprawling 7,800-acre estate, Ballynahinch Castle offers a tranquil retreat in the heart of nature. Surrounded by lush forests and a salmon fishery, this majestic castle hotel is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Guests can explore over 10 miles of scenic trails or enjoy activities such as fishing and horseback riding. With its cozy fisherman’s pub and elegant restaurant, Ballynahinch Castle promises a serene getaway amidst Ireland’s stunning wilderness.

Ballynahinch Castle sits in the heart of Connemara, located about an hour plus west of Galway. The Connemara region of Ireland is a rugged and enchanting landscape, characterized by its dramatic coastlines, misty mountains, and expansive boglands, offering a glimpse into the untamed beauty of the Irish countryside.

Kylemore Abbey is a great excursion from Ballynahinch, and I like to combine that visit with a catamaran cruise through Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord. Kylemore Abbey, located in Connemara, Ireland, was originally built as a private castle in the 19th century. It later became a Benedictine monastery. Visitors can explore the abbey’s Victorian architecture, including its halls and rooms. The estate also features extensive gardens, including a walled garden and woodland walks.

Clontarf Castle

Dating back to 1837 and modernized for the 21st century, Clontarf Castle seamlessly blends history with contemporary luxury. Set amidst a landscape rich in Templar and deLacy history, this castle hotel offers a range of amenities for discerning travelers.

From elegant rooms maintaining their aristocratic feel to versatile event spaces perfect for weddings and conferences, Clontarf Castle caters to a variety of needs. With its rich ambiance and impeccable service, it promises an unforgettable stay steeped in tradition and sophistication.

Clontarf Castle is located about 10 minutes north of Dublin city center and can be a perfect last night stay in Dublin before heading to the airport the next morning.

Lough Eske Castle Hotel

Once the seat of the O’Donnel family, Lough Eske Castle Hotel now welcomes guests with unparalleled luxury and hospitality. Dating back to the 19th century, this majestic castle boasts ancient features seamlessly combined with modern comforts.

Guests can indulge in organic spa treatments or savor gourmet cuisine at the castle’s acclaimed restaurant. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, including a dedicated bar, Lough Eske Castle Hotel offers a tranquil retreat for travelers seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

Lough Eske Castle Hotel is located just outside of Donegal, so if you are headed up the northwestern coast of Ireland, it’s the perfect place to indulge your castle fantasy.

Make the Most of Your Castle Hotel Visit

Many of the castles have expansive grounds, so one of my recommendations is to plan to spend a good amount of your time at your castle hotel. It is truly a destination, not just overnight accommodations.

Arrive early in the afternoon so you can explore the grounds, take a hawk walk, or arrange a private fishing lesson. Have a cocktail in the ornate castle bar.

Each castle hotel will have a fine dining option with excellent cuisine. Make your reservations prior to your visit as they do book up ahead of time.

Irish Castles

From weathered ruins to opulent accommodations, Ireland’s castles offer a fascinating glimpse into the nation’s rich heritage and provide a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in history.

Embarking on a tour of Ireland’s castle hotels promises an unforgettable journey through Ireland’s past and luxury. These majestic structures, steeped in tradition and opulence, offer a glimpse into ancestral stories while providing a sanctuary for modern-day travelers. From fine dining to outdoor pursuits, each castle hotel beckons with its own allure, inviting guests to immerse themselves in a world of timeless elegance and unparalleled hospitality.