Ballinalacken Castle Hotel
Coast Rd., about 1 km (½ mile) outside Doolin on Lisdoonvarna Rd., Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
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.
- fabulous location
- warm old-fashioned welcome from the O'Callaghan family
- not in fact a "castle"
Rate Includes: Closed Nov.–mid-Apr.; no dinner Tues. Breakfast
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