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You might say the entire country of Ireland is charming with its long list of beautiful destinations to explore, and in general, you would be right, but there are some hotels that truly do stand out above the rest. Expect to find welcoming hospitality in addition to cozy on-site restaurants, lovely garden atmospheres, and historic castle settings. From top-rated stays in Dublin to the iconic stays near the famous Cliffs of Moher, these are the most charming hotels in Ireland.
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This 17th-century lodge in County Antrim is located near Bushmills Distillery in the village of Bushmills and just minutes from Giant’s Causeway. Quintessentially Irish, it is one of the most romantic hotels in the United Kingdom, with fireplaces that burn peat or wood throughout, an outstanding restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine, and live Irish music offered several nights a week at its bar. The main building dates to the early 19th-century, and the historic character has been carefully preserved. Set on an acre of lush lawns, the highlights of this property are its interesting nooks and crannies, antiques, roaring peat fires, and a secret library. Even when there isn’t live music, you’ll enjoy sipping a pint in the bar that’s still lit by gas light. There’s even a 30-seat private cinema, and afternoon tea served in the garden courtyard.
One of the best castle stays in Ireland, Dromoland Castle Hotel dates back to the 5th century, although it was transformed into a hotel just a little more than a half-century ago. It’s the ancestral home of one of the few families of true Irish royalty, direct descendants of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014. It remained in the ancestral ownership of the King until 1962 when it was renovated into a striking, high-end hotel. Ideal for honeymooners, and other romance-seekers, the moment you step onto the meticulously groomed 375-acre estate, you’ll feel like royalty yourself. The façade and powerful towers, added in the 1830s, are reminiscent of knights and dragoons, while rooms feature elegant touches throughout. In addition to 5-star accommodations, guests enjoy a wealth of fresh, locally sourced produce and an extensive selection of dining options along with a spa, golf course, award-winning falconry school, and activities like horse riding, fishing, clay shooting and archery.
Abbeyglen Castle Hotel sits in the heart of the jaw-dropping Connemara region, set against the mountainous backdrop of the “Twelve Bens.” This relatively small, wonderfully intimate castle offers fabulous views overlooking the picturesque town of Clifden and is renowned for its luxurious accommodation with rooms that include four-poster beds, Jacuzzis, and fireplaces as well as an award-winning restaurant featuring outstanding local seafood and Connemara lamb. Enjoy a champagne reception along with a brief history of the castle upon arrival, and after a fabulous dinner head to the Piano bar for a fun, music-filled evening. The incredibly warm and friendly staff, Gilbert, the friendly parrot who talks to everybody on their way past, will ensure your stay is unforgettable from the start.
A popular bed and breakfast in Ireland, Roundwood House in Mountrath is just an hour from the capital city of Dublin. It was once named among the top one percent of the world’s hotels by TripAdvisor, which is quite an accomplishment for this grand 18th-century country house that sits at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Well lived-in, it has plenty of character, along with exceptional service. Guests can peruse the library, dedicated to the development of civilization, as well as enjoy dinners cooked using seasonal, local ingredients. If you prefer to eat alone, you can dine in the study, or enjoy the company of fellow guests. When the weather cooperates, enjoy exploring the surrounding parkland and lovely gardens, along with multiple outbuildings that make for a unique Irish experience.
The Dunraven Arms, established in 1792, is a luxury country house in the picturesque village of Adare. Clad with ivy, it’s surrounded by quaint thatched cottages providing an oasis of tranquility. It’s an ideal base for visiting what’s renowned as one of Ireland’s prettiest towns, with its images reproduced on countless postcards alongside “Wish You Were Here” messages. You’ll discover scenic beauty around nearly every corner, including the main street which is lined with colorful stone buildings, fascinating ruins, medieval monasteries and a gorgeous park. After a day out exploring you can return to your spacious and lavishly decorated room, many of which feature beautiful views overlooking the award-winning gardens, or you might enjoy a drink at the oak-paneled bar before retiring. The hotel also hosts the award-winning Maigue Restaurant as well as a fitness center with beauty treatment and massage therapy rooms.
Frequently named one of Ireland’s top hotel stays, the Old Convent in County Tipperary is a unique adult-only option for a quiet stay, perfect for couples and those who are in serious need of relaxation, with its strictly no-children policy. Nestled at the foot of the Knockmealdowns, this towering home belonged to the Sisters of Mercy for over a century, and since then, it’s been a fishing lodge, a center for holistic therapy, and more recently, was purchased by one of Galway’s top chefs, who transformed it into one of the area’s hottest retreats. There are just seven rooms, each a work of art with plenty of attention to detail, including dreamy mountain views. The food is highly recommended and comes with a multi-course tasting menu.
The Fairview is located in the heart of beautiful Killarney, renowned as the home of Killarney National Park. The park hosts one of the country’s most stunning waterfalls, Torc, which plunges 60 feet from the Torc Mountains via a river known as the Devil’s Punch Bowl. There are dramatic mountains for hiking, and numerous glistening lake, covering an entire quarter of the park, for kayaking – gaze up at the sea eagles and explore limestone caves or ancient ruins along the way. Afterward, you can look forward to returning to this upscale hotel with spacious guest rooms, some of which feature jetted hot tubs and fireplaces. If it’s chilly out, the lounge area with a fireplace is a wonderful place to relax with a good book. You’ll get a complimentary made-to-order breakfast in the morning too.
Ard na Sidhe, which translates to “Hill of the Fairies,” is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets. Located in County Kerry, fronted by gorgeous gardens that sweep down to the edge of Caragh Lake, this whimsical Arts and Crafts mansion is incredibly elegant. The interior is filled with details that date from 1913, yet it was recently lavishly restored. Rooms include claw-foot baths and views over the Edwardian gardens, and guests also have access to the hotel’s rowboat, for a tranquil trip out on the lake to soak up views that include the heather-dotted MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountains. Candlelit dinners can be enjoyed on-site, with the menu featuring a wide range of regional and international cuisine, including fine Kerry lamb and fresh Atlantic fish – afterward, enjoy a brandy and relax by the crackling fire in the lounge.
Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge Hotel is a four-star country house hotel that offers especially warm hospitality and a homey atmosphere, despite its grand exterior and luxurious interior. Tucked within the heart of the County Limerick countryside in Ballingarry, the converted 19th-century convent is spread across 10 acres and includes a kitchen garden, orchard, and lots of mature trees. The extra-spacious suites boast French doors that open onto the garden and outdoor seating area as well as kitchenettes and a private sitting room with a coal effect electric fire. The onsite restaurant has long been highly acclaimed and features wine from around the world, while guests also have a number of activities available nearby, including golf courses, fishing, horse riding and the Ballyhoura Mountain range for hiking and more. If you overdo it, the resident Thai masseur can help.
The family-run Ballinalacken Castle Country House is set on the grounds of a 15th-century castle not far from the famous Cliffs of Moher overlooking the Atlantic, just outside the town of Doolin, renowned for its pubs that host music sessions just about every night of the week. This upscale B&B is loaded with charm, its rooms filled with beautiful antiques, fine linens, and large windows with tranquil views. Look forward to warm Irish hospitality, fantastic breakfasts, gourmet dinners, including lamb, fish, beef and other choices, as well as guided tours of the castle ruins next door.