For most of us when you think of Ireland; green pastures, cliffs looking over the ocean and castles come to mind. Experience it all on an Ireland vacation, helping make your special vacation one that you will not only enjoy but remember or a lifetime with wonderful memories. Splurge a little and have a castle vacation by staying in a real castle. Here are 5 of the best castle hotels in Ireland that happen to also be some of the best castles in Ireland. These castles will not only provide luxury castle accommodations but they also offer the whole castle experience with medieval fun activities. This can bring a little adventure travel to your holiday too! So read on for the Best Castle Hotels in Ireland!
Ashford Castle of Ireland
Ashford Castle is located in Cong, Ireland in the County of Mayo. What makes this castle a premier destination on the Emerald Isle is its sheer beauty as well as being one of the worlds leading hotels. Ashford Castle is consistently ranked on Travel and Leisure as one of the best hotels in the world and after our experience, we understand why – it is truly magnificent! With that said, it is a very popular destination in Ireland so it is restricted to only house guests. A house guest can either be a hotel guest or a visitor with dining reservations at one of their outlets, which also includes their traditional afternoon tea.
Ashford Castle has a long history dating back to the 12th century. Since the 12th century, Ashford Castle has seen many owners which have all made a footprint on the estate. One of the more famous owners were the Guinness Family. When the estate was passed down from Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness to his son Lord Ardilaun, a legacy was created and it still remains today – the traditional Lord and Lady Ardilaun Afternoon Tea. In 2013, the Ashford Castle was purchased by The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. They not only restored the castle but also turned it into a luxurious and award-winning castle hotel.
Of course, the rooms at Ashford Castle are all fit for royalty. There are 83 rooms throughout the castle and each one has its own distinct character that represents the original 12th-century ambiance with a touch of modern features. Furthermore, the 26,000-acre estate also includes a billiard room, cigar lounge, wine cellar, spa, cinema theatre, and even a dungeon! Outside of the castle, visitors can marvel at the beautiful architecture of Ashford Castle or take a stroll along the Victorian Corrib Lake and through the Tollman Gardens. When guests are not sleeping, exploring or dining, they can also enjoy outdoor activities such as falconry, golf, tennis, fishing, clay shooting, archery and more. Needless to say, Ashford Castle is definitely a place you need to stay during your trip to Ireland or to visit with reservations.
Contributed by Christina at Our Sweet Adventures
Welcome to the famous and almighty Blarney Castle, world renowned for having possibly the luckiest stone deep within its walls! Blarney Castle has been standing tall since 1446 (but it is the third version of what stood here before – wooden castles just don’t cut it).
Why do people from all around the world come to Blarney Castle? Because at the top of it, sits the stone which according to legend, gives you the ‘gift of the gab’ (being skilled at flattery) if you kiss it. If you need a little magic and charisma in your life, make sure to put Blarney Castle on your best places to visit in Ireland list.
If kissing stones is not for you; make the most of exploring Blarney Castle’s surrounding grounds. There’s tons of hidden gems to find throughout. Look out for the Witch’s cave!
You will find Blarney Castle in the darling village of Blarney, 8km northwest from Cork city in beautiful Ireland. Getting there is all good, however you wish to travel.
From Cork airport you can grab a rental car or taxi and be there within just 25 minutes. Are you coming from Shannon? There’s no trains unfortunately, but you can go with your hire car or grab a bus directly from Shannon airport to Cork city and take things from there.
If you are coming from Dublin, you’ll get here within 3-4 hours with your own car. If you’re using public transport, trains are possible and if you’re on a budget, there are direct buses to Cork from Dublin Airport 8 times a day. Be aware that this can take anywhere from 5-7 hours depending on whether the traffic is playing up.
Contributed by Alice at Teacake Travels
Kilkea Castle of Ireland
Kilkea Castle was built in 1180 in County Kildare, Ireland. It was a private residence for centuries, originally for the earls of Kildare, before it was converted to a hotel in the 1960s. Its previous occupants include Earls, an archbishop and at least one owner, the “Wizard Earl” who was thought to have magic powers. It closed in 2009 but reopened in 2017 after its sale to an American businessman and construction mogul Jay Cashman. Renovation took 5 years and 30 million euros. This is no longer your typical old drafty castle but is now an upscale hotel.
Its public spaces include a formal dining room that seats around 40 along a single table, a well-lit large breakfast room, meeting rooms, a cozy fireplace room, and a bar. The comfortable bedrooms are named after former denizens of the castle.
In addition to its comfortable rooms and welcoming public spaces they also offer programs in falconry and archery. They have facilities for skeet shooting, horseback riding, tennis, hiking, swimming, tubing, cycling, fishing, birdwatching, and spa treatments. It has an 18 hole golf course on property. But you should leave the grounds to see the beautiful County Kildare where it is located.
Contributed by Chris at Amateur Travel
Solis Lough Eske Castle
Solis Lough Eske Castle in Donegal is the only five star property in the city. Situated on the edge of Lough Eske, it’s surrounded by trails and forests, making it feel like a true getaway. In fact, you don’t need to leave the castle while you’re there as it’s a destination in itself.
The castle has a very intriguing history. The powerful O’Donnell clan owned many castles throughout the Middle Ages, and the ruins of one still remain near Lough Eske Castle. In the 1600s, Scottish settlers built a manor on the property that was later transformed into the castle in 1861. After falling into disrepair for a number of years, the castle was renovated and saved from destruction. Now, you can stay there at this beautiful property when traveling to Ireland.
Around the castle grounds, you’ll immediately notice many unique sculptures, including a three-meter high fountain featuring sculptures of salmon leaping through the air. There’s a wooden boardwalk around the lake. Even though it’s merely steps from the hotel, it was so serene and the views were brilliant.
Inside the castle, we had a very comfortable and cozy stay. Our room was decorated with classic oak furniture, and our room overlooked a tranquil courtyard. The bathroom was quite modern with both a large bathtub and a separate shower. Essentially, the rooms had every amenity you could need for the perfect overnight stay. For an extra dose of relaxation, head to the on-site spa for treatments, a steam room, a sauna, and a swimming pool.
Cedars Grill is an elegant restaurant at Lough Eske Castle, and you can enjoy meals prepared by their Executive Chef. There are two separate bars, the Gallery Bar and the Oak Bar, where you can meet up with friends for a pint of Guinness or a cocktail. Whether you spend your evening reminiscing by the fireplace, listening to traditional Irish music, or playing a round of billiards, you won’t need to journey far to have a memorable night.
There are lots of things to do in in the town of Donegal, Ireland
Contributed by Lauren at Justin Plus Lauren
Dromoland Castle Hotel
Dromoland Castle is located in the Co. Clare, southwest Ireland. Driving up the drive you are surrounded by lush green landscapes. When the castle comes into view, it is a little surreal if it is your first castle, because it does look exactly how you have always pictured how a castle looks. Dromoland Castle in Ireland is also home to a very notable golf course, luxurious accommodations and several castle activities. Our holiday at Dromoland Castle was so much fun and you can read more here.