Blame Disney, all those knight-in-shining-armor fairytales, or even the Travel Channel. Whether or not you want to admit it, there was probably a time in your childhood—or perhaps more recently—when you dreamed of what it would be like to live in a beautiful castle surrounded by sprawling acreage, beautiful gardens and seaside panoramas. If you think that aspiration can only come true in your dreams, think again. You can now live out your fairytale fantasies at the numerous castle hotels located throughout the breathtaking Irish countrysides. From gothic to Celtic and even haunted, Ireland’s castle getaways will give you a taste of royal rest and relaxation, along with a taste of landmark Irish hospitality. Whisk yourself away for an enchanted escape at eight of Ireland’s most luxurious castle hotels.
8 Ballyseede Castle in Tralee
For a family-friendly getaway, Tralee’s Ballyseede Castle offers the ideal accommodations thanks to its comfortable rooms, value and privacy. Its 23 generously sized guestrooms offer plenty of space for those travelling with children; each includes several beds as well as cotton robes and bottled water. Children will love the castle’s resident pups and its collection of charming miniature Farabella Horses and native donkeys. Ballyseede also delivers big when it comes to combining quaint Irish allure with modern amenities. While the castle dates back to the 1590s, frequent updates and renovations have breathed new life in this authentic Irish castle.
7 Castle Leslie Estate in Glaslough
If you’re passing through Glaslough, consider reserving a room at Castle Leslie Estate, the preferred hotel of rockstar royalties like Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Mick Jagger. With its Scottish Baronial architecture, Castle Leslie Estate is recognized not only as one of Ireland’s most beautiful castles, but one of the county’s more exclusive hotels as well. This magnificent castle, which has undergone continuous renovations since the 1660s, is situated on a private 1,000-acre countryside among County Monaghan’s rural scenery where oak, sycamore, yew and ash trees border Castle Leslie Estate’s three nearby lakes and lush parkland. Inside this longstanding castle are 20 rooms available for guests to reserve, including The Eagle’s Nest and Seymour’s Room whose 1607 four-poster bed from the haunted house Brede Place is rumored to levitate its guests at night.
6 Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa in Ballyfarnon
With its breathtaking views of Lough Meelagh shores, 40-acres of iconic Irish geography and a history of royal residents, Ballyfarnon’s Kilronan Castle is the basis of what fairytale’s are made of. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the majestic gardens of the Roscommon lawns that bloom among the property’s age-old woodlands and line the way to Kilronan Castle’s 84 luxurious rooms and suites and five-star spa center. At this stunning castle hotel, you can indulge and unwind with the perfect combination of modern touches and old world charm, including air conditioning, room service, extravagant chocolates, a superior in-suite bathroom and even fresh flowers. Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa also offers a variety of fun activities including equestrian, fishing, boating trips, aura leitrim and golf.
5 Dromoland Castle in Newmarket-on-Fergus
If what you're looking for is a hotel fit for a king, then Dromoland Castle will live up to your every desire. This Newmarket-on-Fergus five-star luxury castle has been the pick of many famous guests, including U.S. President George W. Bush, Jack Nicholson, Bono, John Travolta, Nelson Mandela, and Muhammad Ali. With its unmatched service to its guests, luxury amenities and gorgeous surroundings, it’s easy to see why so many elite figures consider Dromoland Castle as their preferred castle hotel. Although originally constructed in the 16th century, the castle has been well-maintained throughout the years and was ultimately converted into the opulent castle it is today in 1962. Dromoland Castle and its 375-acre estate offer its guests plenty of open air where they can participate in a variety of outdoor activities like tennis, horseback riding and hunting right on the castle grounds, making it one of the most sought after hotels in all of Ireland.
4 Kinnitty Castle in Kinnitty
If you want to experience one of Ireland’s most historic luxury castle hotels, reserve a room at the notable Kinnitty Castle in Kinnitty, County Offaly. Despite Kinnitty’s first castle being destroyed in 1209, a reconstruction in 1213, followed by a complete rebuild in 1922 after a fire destroyed it, have helped revive this famous castle. This beautiful, four-star hotel that houses 37 bedrooms is rumored to be plagued by Kinnitty’s violent past. Guests who stay at this gothic-inspired castle report allegations of haunting ghosts, including a spirit known best as the Phantom Monk of Kinnitty. If you’re brave, perhaps you can experience the paranormal firsthand in the Elizabeth room and the Geraldine room where you’re likely to encounter this communicative ghost who regularly appears to both hotel staff and visiting patrons as well.
3 Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara
When you picture an iconic Ireland castle, chances are it looks fairly similar to the world famous Ballynahinch Castle. This 18th century castle presents its guests with the best highlights of Ireland’s castle hotels, including lush greenery, majestic woods and scenic views of Ballynahinch Lake. Set on 450 acres of picturesque Irish landscapes, the outlooks from Ballynahinch Castle’s 40 guest rooms prove that there isn’t a bad room in the castle—from its economical classic riverside rooms that overlook the Ballynahinch Salmon river and surrounding woodlands, to its lavish riverside suits where guests can feast their eyes on the estate’s breathtaking gardens. Ballynahinch Castle is a 2013 recipient of Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award for Best Hotel in Ireland.
2 Ashford Castle in Mayo
As a Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award recipient, and four-time pick for the world’s best hotels, Mayo’s 700-year-old medieval Ashford Castle is worth at least an overnight stay during your next Irish getaway. Guests give this massive 13th-century former abbey high marks for its activities, design, food, location, rooms and service. The majority of its 83 rooms welcome travelers with some type of Irish liqueur or a decanter of sherry to enjoy while they put up their feet surrounded by soaring ceilings, fireplaces and magnificent antique furniture. Scattered throughout Ashford Castle’s 350-acre estate are a myriad of activities for guests to experience, ranging from falconry and skeet shooting to golf, horseback riding and guided bicycle tours. Ashford Castle has been among the chosen castle hotel for many of the world’s most distinguished guests, including King George V and Queen Mary, Oscar Wilde, Brad Pitt, John Lennon and George Harrison.
1 Lough Eske Castle in Donegal Town
With close proximity to surfing, beautiful beaches, secluded salmon fishing spots and twin waterfalls, Lough Eske Castle near Donegal Town comes out on top for Ireland’s most luxurious castle hotels. Protected by the stunning Blue Stack Mountains, this impressive five-star hotel dates back to the 1400s and throughout the years, has earned its reputation as one of the most extravagant event spots in Ireland. Whether you’re looking to tie the knot, rest up after a tiring day of business travel or explore Ireland’s wilderness, Lough Eske has everything you need within its exquisite estate property. Relax at the castle’s spa, or head straight to your guest room upon arrival and indulge in the top-quality amenities that await you. A bonus for animal lovers: Lough Eske Castle is one of Ireland’s few pet-friendly castles. Lough Eske Castle is the only hotel in Ireland to boast a World Luxury Hotel Award in addition to its four recognitions as the World’s Best Luxury County Hotel.