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County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands Hotels

Ballinalacken Castle Hotel

  • Fodor's Choice


  • Fabulous location
  • Warm old-fashioned welcome from the O'Callaghan family


  • Not in fact a "castle."

Updated 04/09/2014

Fodor's Review

One hundred acres of wildflower meadows surround this restored, low-slung Victorian lodge—built alongside the 16th-century ruins of an O'Brien castle (hence its somewhat bogus name)—making this one of the most memorably sited of Ireland's coastal inns, with panoramic views of the Atlantic, the Aran Islands, and distant Connemara. The sense of spaciousness is exhilarating, and manager Declan O'Callaghan reports that many guests regularly oversleep due to the quietness. The public rooms display a mix of comfy old armchairs and antique, baronial-style Irish oak, amid floral wallpaper and rampant pots of aspidistra. Guest rooms in the older house have massive four-poster beds, marble fireplaces, and high ceilings. Some large, sunny rooms have bay windows to frame that stunning view; nice but plainer rooms in the new wing, with antique-style decor, are equally sought after. The restaurant has an imaginative and sophisticated Continental menu ($$$$) where you can sometimes snag its roast loin of Burren lamb, but only with a reservation.

Hotel Information


Coast Rd., about 1 km (½ mile) outside Doolin on the Lisdoonvarna Rd., Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland



Hotel Details:

  • Credit cards accepted
  • Closed Nov.–mid-Apr.;no dinner Tues.
  • 10 rooms, 2 suites
  • Rate includes Breakfast

Updated 04/09/2014

View County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands Hotel Rates


Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
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Oct 16, 2009

Ballinalacken Castle Review

This was the second time we had been to Ballinalacken Castle and the only thing that changed this time was it was even better than the first time. The people who run the hotel are not only a family they make you feel like family. The food is the best you’ll get a fair price and if you don’t relax and love the surroundings, it’s no one’s fault but your own. If you want to see the real Ireland and experience not only the charm of the country

itself but the beautiful people that inhabit it, then this is the place to do it. We use to come to Ireland and drive all over staying at different places. When we found Doolin we loved it and when we found Ballinalacken we knew it didn’t get any better than this. Every place in the world is something to someone, this is our home in Ireland and we will go back.

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May 20, 2008

Home Away from Home

My husband and I have been visiting the Ballinalacken Castle Hotel in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland, for 23 years, and we wouldn't want to stay anywhere else when we visit the Clare area. It feels like returning home again. The hospitality of the O'Callaghan family, the beautiful surroundings and views, the wonderful breakfasts, gourmet dinners, peace and quiet are the reasons we return. The location of the Ballinalacken is fabulous. Right on the

coast, the hotel, actually a manor house, sits up high and boasts magnificent views of the Atlantic, the Aran Islands and the local countryside. It's a spectacular setting and very peaceful. It would be very easy to sit and read a book in their drawing room taking in the quiet surroundings. There are wonderful drives all along the coast there, the magnificent Burren, Cliffs of Moher, and cruises over to the Aran Islands from Doolin. If you need help with your itinerary or any suggestions for places to see, Declan, Denis and Cecelia are always helpful, pleasant and welcoming. They'll also give you a tour of the castle ruin right next door. Bedrooms at the Ballinalacken are very comfortable and some have beautiful views of the coast. Sometimes you're so comfortable and it's so quiet there, that you don't feel like getting up in the morning! The food at the Ballinalacken is delicious. At breakfast, everything is always so fresh, from the continental breakfast, especially the raisin scones and beautiful fruit, to the full Irish breakfast. I don't think you can find a better one. It's a wonderful start to your day with Cecelia and her staff. Dinner there is an absolute delight. We highly recommend staying there for a gourmet dinner. The chef, Michael, always has an interesting and creative menu. There's lamb, beef, fish and other choices on the menu, and it's always flavorful, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. The wine list is extensive. Desserts are gorgeous. Staff members are professional and pleasant, service is very good. You can enjoy a cocktail or soft drink in the bar before dinner or sit in the lobby with a glass of wine enjoying the ambiance and peace in front of the beautiful Connemara marble fireplace with peat fire. After dinner, if you're not too tired from the day's adventures, why not listen to some music in the bar or have a nice talk with Denis, the owner, over your favorite beverage or Irish Coffee! Doolin is famous for their music, and it's a short drive to hear a session in one of the pubs there. We highly recommend enjoying the music by very accomplished musicians while you're there in the area. Thanks, Ballinalacken. It's always a pleasure to return. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Jun 11, 2007

Setting Wonderful but service average

We stayed here in May of 2007 and found the setting beautiful and convenient to Dillon, the Burren Way (just around the corner) the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. Our room in the new wing was just average, the service was a bit below average and the food was more than a bit below average (overcooked fish and very undercooked scones)We thought the price was a bit high for the value of the accomodations, service and food.

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