Ireland's Best
Castle & Manor Hotels

BY Rest of Europe | Ireland

best-hotels-ireland-insetWith a past that dates back to the Stone Age, the best hotels in Ireland are brimming with historic accommodations in which to hang one’s hat (or helmet!).

With everything from elegant country manor homes to over-the-top castle estates, there are plenty of options to suit every taste and budget. Whether it’s high tea, fly-fishing or farm-to-table meals you’re after, these properties take the experience of Irish hospitality to the next level.


The Best Hotels in Ireland

Best for Foodies

Ballynahinch Castle, Co. Galway

best-hotels-ireland-ballynahinchSurrounded by 450 acres of beautiful wooded grounds, Ballynahinch Castle has the old world ambience, stunning riverside setting and top-notch service one might expect of a castle hotel, but it’s the superb restaurants that truly set it apart.

With long-time B&R friend and collaborator Cliodhna Prendergast leading the charge, guests can look forward to elevated Irish fare that highlights locally sourced produce, seafood and game.

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The area is known for its salmon, trout and shellfish, and those looking to get an up-close-and-personal experience can go for a boat excursion with a local lobster trapper, visit a mussel farmer in the country’s only fjord, fly-fish on the hotel’s private boat, or pop into the local smokehouse to stock up for a picnic.

Best for Honeymooners

Ballyfin, Co. Laois

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Set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the heart of Ireland, this five-star country manor house is the ultimate romantic retreat – not to mention the best hotel in the world, according to Condé Nast Traveler’s recent Reader’s Choice Awards.

best-hotels-ireland-ballyfin2Its 20 opulent rooms feature four-poster beds, antique furnishings, art and tapestries that would be the envy of any Georgian-era couple. In addition to the wonderful walking and biking in the surrounding hills, the grounds provide enough amusement to while away an afternoon (or several!).

Set out on a leisurely stroll through the impeccable walled gardens, take a horse and carriage ride, or enjoy a rowboat around the lake with your butler at the helm. Finally, cap off your celebratory day with a gorgeous catered picnic and bottle of bubbly.

The property makes a great option for Bespoke trips to Ireland, and I also recommend it as a place to stay before or after Scheduled or Ready to Book trips.

Best for Families

Ashford Castle, Co. Clare

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With top spots on both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines’ best hotels lists, Ashford is the granddaddy of all castle hotels in Ireland.

best-hotels-ireland-ashfordDating back to 1228 when it was built by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family, the castle has passed through several hands since (including the Guinness family), but remains a playground and home base for leisurely estate activities and outdoor pursuits in the area.

For children, it’s a place of fairy tales, with rambling gardens, hidden passageways and a secret folly tower. With so many awesome activities like horseback riding, archery, kayaking, falconry and zip lining to keep the kids occupied, it’s also the perfect opportunity for the young at heart to indulge: the hotel’s world class spa underwent a multimillion-Euro renovation last year.

See For Yourself

On B&R’s Ireland West Coast Walking trip, explore regions steeped in history, with glacial-era geography and millennia of human endurance and evolution recorded in the very landscape.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Best for Escapists

Ard na Sidhe, Co. Kerry

best-hotels-ireland-ardnasidheBuilt in 1913 by Lady Gordon, a noted gardener, traveller and writer, this under-the-radar 18-room Victorian country manor house is Kerry’s best-kept secret.

Idyllically situated on 32 lakefront acres at the foot of Ireland’s highest mountains, the McGillicuddy Reeks, Ard na Sidhe has the epic beauty and seclusion that dreamers crave, with a central location that makes it ideal for excursions to the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry.

After a day out on the bike or trails, you can look forward to relaxing with a pint by the crackling fire, or high tea in the tranquil gardens overlooking Lough Caragh.

Best for Private Hire

Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford

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Grand facade? Elegant fire-lit drawing room? Medieval dining hall? Personal butler? Check! Check! Check! Check!

Lismore Castle ticks all of the boxes when it comes to private castle experiences in Ireland. The 800-year old property has been owned by the Duke of Devonshire since 1773 and has a history and surroundings that will transport you.

Ideal for families or private groups, Lismore can accommodate up to 30 people yet feels intimate with a group of 10 or 12.

For more details about the itineraries we can offer using Lismore (or another fine castle for hire) as a home base, just ask your trip designer!

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