Who hasn’t wanted to live like a king or queen, even if it’s only a night or two? One of the best places to experience the royal lifestyle in Ireland, home to countless castles that have been transformed into hotels.
What are the best Castle Hotels you can stay in Ireland?
If you’re visiting Ireland and want to stay in a castle, you have a lot of options. Some of the most unique castles-turned-hotels in Ireland that you can stay in are:
- Ashford Castle – Cong, County Mayo
- Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort – Ballinakill, County Mayo
- Dromoland Castle Hotel – Newmarket on Fergus, County Clare
- Lough Eske Castle – Country Donegal
- Abbeyglen Castle Hotel – Clifden, Connemara
- Clontarf Castle – Dublin
These magnificent properties offer the best of the best, some at surprisingly affordable prices while others are ultra-exclusive but worth the spend.
Ashford Castle – Cong, County Mayo
One of the most famous of Ireland’s castle hotels, Ashford Castle offers five-star luxuries, with guests that have included the likes of King George V, Grace Kelly, Oscar Wilde, and Brad Pitt. Originally built in the early 13th century, it sits on a 350-acre estate overlooking the sapphire waters of Lough Corrib and offers a long list of activities.
Enjoy cruises on the lake, golf, horseback riding, falconry, archery, and more. Afterward, the decadent spa is the place to go to unwind and refresh.
Enjoy dining at the on-site bistro, a medieval pub, or in the palatial restaurant and accommodation in elegant castle rooms, all of which are uniquely designed. Think four-poster beds, clawfoot tubs, and open fireplaces. Many of the original features have been preserved, but you’ll enjoy modern amenities too, like interactive TVs and Wi-Fi.
Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort – Ballinakill, County Mayo
Located on a 310-acre private island in the River Suir, the gothic-style Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort can only be accessed by ferry, but it’s worth the trip. The resort is centered around the 16th-century castle, which is known for its many priceless artifacts, including original oil paintings and an Aubusson Louis XVI-style chair.
It was built in 1895 for a member of the Fitzgerald dynasty, but the site was the ancestral home of the Fitzgeralds for 800 years.
Step through the beautifully carved wooden entrance, and you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. There are centuries-old tapestries, a spectacular centerpiece fireplace, stone arches, and refined antique furnishings throughout. From the Mullioned windows, you’ll gaze out at the woodlands, golf course, and surrounding river.
Enjoy golf on the 18-hole course, croquet, archery, and clay-pigeon target shooting. Nature and wildlife walks, enjoyed with a picnic put together by the chef, are also possible. All rooms and suites feature canopied beds and large clawfoot tubs.
Dromoland Castle Hotel – Newmarket on Fergus, County Clare
Dating back to the 5th century, Dromoland is the ancestral home of one of only a few families from true Irish royalty, direct descendants of the High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014 AD, Brian Boru. It remained in ancestral ownership until 1962 before a $23 million renovation turned it into a luxurious hotel.
Set on a 375-acre estate with lush grounds and gorgeous gardens, the towers and façade were 1830s additions. The first glimpse, after driving through the estate gates along a winding lane, passing forest and a vast lake, is sure to impress.
Not only is the castle a great base for exploring attractions like the popular Cliffs of Moher, but there’s plenty to do on-site, like biking, fishing, pony and trap rides, horseback riding, clay shooting, and walks through the forest.
There’s a lavish spa to relax in afterward, complete with an outdoor hot tub and indulgent treatments using ingredients from the country’s coast. Dining is five-star too, including fine dining options with white glove service.
The Cocktail Bar, which hosts live music is the place to be afterward, while rooms feature traditional décor, beds topped with Irish linens, deep-soaking tubs, and flat-screen TVs with DVD players.
Lough Eske Castle – Country Donegal
A 17th-century castle with a Tudor-baronial façade, the spectacular Lough Eske castle hotel sits at the edge of Lough Eske near Donegal’s fabled Blue Stack Mountains.
While it has a rich history connected to the O’Donnells, the founding fathers of Donegal, it provides a modern take on five-star luxuries. While it boasts a secluded countryside location, it’s just a short drive from the city and offers plenty of opportunities for activities and relaxation. You might rent a boat to fish for salmon or brown trout in the lake – with any luck, you can bring it back to the hotel and staff will show you how to smoke and cure it.
Or explore the grounds on a complimentary bike.
In the Victoria Glass House, you’ll find a beautiful spa with an infinity pool, steam room, and sauna. Treatments include a 60-minute massage incorporating volcanic thermal stones. There’s also an upscale grill restaurant, an elegant bar, and a traditional sports bar. The rooms and suites offer a comfortable respite with features like a canopy or four-poster beds, fireplaces, and spa-like bathrooms with freestanding tubs.
Abbeyglen Castle Hotel – Clifden, Connemara
Nestle in the heart of Connemara, known for its ponies and awe-inspiring scenery, the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel enjoys a backdrop of the sharp-peaked Twelve Bens Mountain range. It offers an intimate stay and picturesque views overlooking the small town of Clifden, where you find plenty of lively pubs for enjoying traditional tunes.
The experience begins with a champagne reception and a brief history of the hotel, which was built in 1832.
Guests enjoy numerous indoor and outdoor facilities, including a 9-hole golf course, tennis court, and a spa with beauty and stress-reducing treatments.
Afternoon tea is served in the traditional lounge, while the gourmet restaurant serves outstanding international and Irish fare. There’s a piano bar where you can sip cocktails while enjoying live music afterward.
There are some more basic rooms that are budget-friendly, but the best rooms come with four-poster beds, fireplaces, and Jacuzzis.
Clontarf Castle – Dublin
An 11th-century castle offering a blend of baronial and romantic meets modern, it’s just a 10-minute drive from the center of town, with a coastal promenade accessed within five minutes on foot.
Incredibly beguiling, there are ivy-clad walls, turrets, and stone walls yet rooms are light-filled and stylish, with Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, pillowtop beds, laptop-friendly safes, and room service. Upgraded options include four-poster beds and Nespresso machines.
Dining and drinking can be enjoyed at the Knights’ Bar with open fires and an all-day menu, while the atmospheric Fahrenheit serves contemporary cuisine with lots of Irish ingredients like Connemara ham. On weekends, enjoy a meal with live jazz.
A full buffet breakfast along with a la carte dishes with fabulous homemade features like bread and jams is served as well.