County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands Hotels

Some of Ireland's finest country-house and castle hotels are in this area. Dromoland Castle, between Shannon Airport and Ennis, provides a standard of luxury that you should experience at least once, if you can stretch your budget. Star country-house destinations include Gregans Castle Hotel, a tranquil retreat with views of the Burren and Galway Bay, and the more modest but also charming Ballinalacken

Castle, a shooting lodge set in 100 acres of wildflower meadows next to the ruins of an O'Brien castle. Other memorable destinations include the cliff-top Moy House at Lahinch, and, in total contrast, the exuberantly glitzy "g" Hotel in Galway. Indoor pools and tennis courts are the exception rather than the rule in this region, where business is largely seasonal and the emphasis is on outdoor pursuits. Note: During peak events, such as the Galway Festival Race Week, hotel rates in Galway shoot up.

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