Offering a combination of history, Downton-level hospitality, and your pick of resident spirits or resident wolfhounds, Ireland’s castle hotels and mansions will be the unforgettable highlight of your Ireland vacation.
There are so many different accommodation options to choose from when visiting Ireland. You can make yourself at home in a charming bed-and-breakfast where you are received and hosted like family. You can set yourself up in a slick, contemporary hotel tricked out with all the latest amenities and conveniences. Or you can go the rental route and choose to experience Ireland from a lighthouse, an abbey, or a charming country cottage set on a working farm. You really can’t go wrong wherever you stay. But a visit to this country of legend and history is not complete without at least one night (and preferably, two or three!) in one of its incredible castle hotels or manor houses. Ireland’s castle hotels and noble country houses offer stunning landscapes, storied pedigrees, open fires, and prim and proper service, as well as amenities like luxury spas and golf courses, and activities like falconry, archery, and clay-pigeon shooting. Our favorites offer character in spades as well as recent rejuvenations to balance that character with comfort. Be sure to pack your bell to summon tea service!
Top Picks for You
WHERE: County Limerick
Located on the banks of the River Maigue in the village of Adare, County Limerick, Adare Manor is a romantic, unapologetically grand Victorian mansion, and one of the world’s top hotels. Dating to the 1830s and set on an immaculate 842-acre estate shaded by some 19,000 trees, this Limerick property was once home to the Earls of Dunraven and was one of the finest private residences in Ireland. Architecturally, Adare is an example of a rare “calendar house,” and features 365 stained-glass windows, 52 ornate chimneys, seven stone pillars, and four towers echoing the days of the week and seasons of the year. The ambitious design is thanks to the Earl of Dunraven, who needed a distracting project to divert his attention from a severe case of gout. While its provenance is still integral to its appeal, a recent multimillion-euro renovation has brought international recognition and awards along with all the necessary modern, luxurious enhancements. Exquisite guest rooms include four-poster bedroom suites with marble fireplaces and river views, while the manor suites include a dedicated butler. Be sure to allow time for the decadent afternoon tea served under soaring, cathedral-like arched ceilings in the Gallery. In addition to swimming, horse riding, and strolling in the French gardens, you can try your hand at archery, falconry, or clay-pigeon shooting. Golf enthusiasts might enjoy a few rounds of golf on the Tom Fazio-designed golf course before it hosts the 2026 Ryder Cup.
WHERE: County Mayo
From the moment you enter the stone gates, this stately castle is the stuff of fairy tales, oozing luxury and contemporary cool after a recent €75 million restoration. Originally built in the 13th century, Ashford was the former hunting lodge of the Guinness family during the 1800s. Suites are the epitome of luxury with19th-century walnut beds dressed in Egyptian cotton monogrammed linens, dazzling chandeliers, Victorian rosewood tables, and roaring fires. Original portrait art fills the ample wall space and highlights the soaring ceilings, while oversize windows make the most of tranquil lake, river, or garden views. Film buffs will know that Cong was the setting for The Quiet Man (starring Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne) in 1952. Guests can stroll to the town on the outskirts of the property and enjoy a complimentary viewing of the technicolor romantic comedy-drama in-room or in the hotel’s private cinema. Available activities include bike and horse rides, fishing trips, falconry, a luxe spa, and lush woodland walks with the resident Irish wolfhounds.
INSIDER TIPAsk for a tour of the property and surrounding village with the hotel’s local historian, and be sure to visit the newly excavated, vast granite cellar and tunnels for the daily wine tasting.
WHERE: County Galway
A venerable house with impeccable historical cachet, Ballynahinch Castle is set on 700 acres of private woodlands and stands harmoniously in a landscape overlooking a salmon fishery. Tranquility is the name of the game here, with a blend of period charm and modern comfort. You may not feel like moving from the bliss of the plump armchairs by the library’s crackling fires, but the property also offers noted walking, cycling, and fishing activities. On a leisurely day, wander through the grounds and admire the water features and exquisite topiary of the walled garden. In the distance, across the bogland, lie the white quartz mountains of Connemara, a counterpoint to the majestic castle, which is a short distance from the Wild Atlantic Way and the characterful fishing village of Roundstone.
WHERE: County Louth
At the end of a tree-lined drive and on the banks of a crystal river, Bellingham Castle is exactly what you imagine when you think “gloriously romantic Irish castle.” Dating from around 1660, it is more classy than flashy, with a storied history and flamboyant 21st-century updates. Guestrooms are individually designed, and all have a freestanding claw-foot tub. The castle stands center stage in an enchanting 17-acre estate complete with a weir and man-made river island with footbridges, mature trees, and manicured gardens. There is a quiet authenticity here that is hugely appealing, as is its sublime location only one hour from either Dublin to the south or Belfast to the north.
WHERE: County Cavan
If you are drawn to the evil witch more than the princess in fairy tales, you can get castle feels of the goosebumps-inducing variety at Cavan’s Cabra Castle, which dates to 1820. With paranormal activity and resident spirits confirmed by the Irish Ghosthunters Association, Cabra is widely considered one of the world’s scariest hotels. From the exterior, its Victorian-Gothic elegance is a fun mix of towers, turrets, crenellations, and ivy-covered walls. The original castle was destroyed during the Cromwellian War (1649-1653), and you can see the ruins nearby. Guest rooms are comfortable and outfitted in exquisite fabrics and furnishings, but you’ll likely spend most of your time exploring the castle’s nooks, crannies, and quiet corners to confirm its spine-chilling history for yourself. Take a seat on the terrace of the Derby Bar, which looks across 100 acres of rolling parkland and gardens to indulge in a few spirits of the soothing variety. A velvety Jameson’s Black Barrel triple-distilled whiskey may be called for if you see a silhouetted figure floating down the hallway.
WHERE: County Galway
Set amid Connemara’s peaceful valleys, tumbling streams, and mighty mountain slopes, Delphi Lodge is a spectacularly sited, 200-year-old chic country house of high glamor and sophistication. At one time it was the sporting hideaway of the Marquis of Sligo, and that appeal remains, especially for those keen on winter woodcock shooting, or year-round golfing, horseback riding, and walking. The mountain of Mweelrea, which translates to “the gray bald one,” is nearby, and so too is Ireland’s only natural fjord at Killary Harbour. Many come for fly-fishing instruction, and there’s a salmon club with permits, licenses, rods, and other equipment supplied. Alternatively, those looking to unwind in the uplifting surroundings and breathe in the aroma of wood-burning fires can pull up a comfy chair and soak in the homey atmosphere. At dinner, the daily fresh catch of salmon is accompanied by a civilized glass of wine and enjoyed around a communal old oak dining table.
WHERE: County Clare
For over 400 years Dromoland Castle, the ancestral home of the O’Briens, descendants of Brian Boru—the High King of Ireland—has played host to guests who luxuriate in its supreme mix of elegance and history. Set on 450 acres, with a vast lake, sweeping drive, and baronial facade, this is one of the few Irish estates that can trace its history to Gaelic royalty. Public rooms overflow with Irish-Georgian antiques, while suites and deluxe rooms are lavishly furnished; some staterooms are even housed inside the original castle walls. Dinner in the oak-wainscoted Earl of Thomond Restaurant is a not-to-be-missed feast for the senses with Venetian silk, decorative cornices, Japanese vases, and sparkling chandeliers, as well as candlelit tables laid with Irish crystal and linen. A live harpist enhances the scene and mood.
Tee off on the golf course, renowned for its gentle hills and ancient trees. Or settle in for afternoon tea in the hotel with sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream, and sweet confections, while you admire the parkland views from the comfort of a fire.
INSIDER TIPDromoland is a short drive from Shannon Airport and an ideal location for exploring Clare. The Burren is just an hour’s drive north, while Ennis, Limerick, and the River Shannon are on your doorstep.
WHERE: County Cork
A redbrick charmer within a leafy, 16-foot-high walled garden, this family-run period house is a hidden gem, just a 20-minute stroll from the center of Cork City. White-sash windows and quirky dormers bring radiance to the exterior of this neo-Georgian building, originally owned by a dynasty of Cork merchants. A liveried doorman welcomes you into a polished world of chandeliers, marble fireplaces, a wood-paneled library, precious artwork, and gleaming surfaces. The lobby is decorated with an abundance of fresh flowers while the carved-wood, double staircase leads to guest rooms decorated in calming colors and antique furnishings.
The gourmet restaurant specializes in local and seasonal produce, while the Garden Bistro is a stylish alternative. The white-gloved afternoon tea is a must, as is the spa with its swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, outdoor hot tub, and gym.
Lough Eske Castle
WHERE: County Donegal
Cocooned in nature on the shores of Lough Eske, this Tudor-style baronial castle is approached by a scenic drive through ancient woodland and offers a characterful mix of history and style. The clans of Donegal, the O’Donnells, had their seat on the lake here in the 1470s, and the castle, built in the Jacobean style in 1621, has known a checkered history with 19th-century additions. Thankfully, a full restoration in 2007, was careful and considered and retained the castle’s turreted character, sandstone staircases, and polished wood, while restoring it to its former glory and adding a few contemporary conveniences. Spacious Castle Suites are named for former custodians and boast handcrafted mahogany king four-poster beds, luxurious finishes, smart bathrooms, and beautiful views. The old castle stables have been converted to Garden suites, entered directly from the castle gardens and featuring marble tile bathrooms, oak furnishings, and a neutral palette. An excellent spa offers an infinity pool, looks out on the castle gardens. Perhaps the ultimate luxury here is the setting, with mountains, lakes, and that blend of wild and savage beauty for which Donegal is renowned. The hotel can arrange a host of activities to take advantage of the surroundings, including horse riding, hill-walking, golf, fishing, and even fish-smoking and tweed-weaving.
INSIDER TIPWalk into the Bluestack Mountains to find the jewel of Belshade Lough. On a sunny day, you may come across colorful butterflies such as the small tortoiseshell, green-veined white, or orange tip.
Parknasilla Resort and Spa
WHERE: County Kerry
Built as a faux-baronial gray manor house in 1887, Parknasilla sits on the Ring of Kerry, surrounded by woodland and looking across Kenmare Bay and the country’s highest mountains. The name comes from the Irish Pairc na Saileac which means “field of willow trees.” Over the years this grand old house has hosted writers and royalty, artists and poets who come for the country setting and the unhurried hospitality for which the “Kingdom” is famed.
A sense of timelessness hangs over this property with its inlaid antique furniture, wing chairs, sweeping staircase, open fires, and ferns and flowers. But rooms are contemporary and comfortable with all the expected modern conveniences. Options include elegant bedrooms in the main house as well as a choice of woodland villas and courtyard lodges. The 500-acre tropical estate offers walks through leafy canopies that connect with the Kerry Way trail (with maps provided, to ensure you don’t get lost). There’s also tennis, cycling, kayaking, archery, and the golf course, which weaves its way around towering pine trees and the ruins of an ancient castle. For kids, the treasure trail and magical fairy trail with houses hidden in the trees are a big hit.
WHERE: County Waterford
Few, if any, other Irish castles can point to such seclusion as 16th-century, magnificently secreted away on its 310-acre wooded island and accessible only via a three-minute private ferry ride. It really doesn’t come much more idyllic than this peaceful hideaway. The present castle, built of rubble stone in the Gothic style in 1895, incorporates the wings and bristles with the fabric of earlier houses with grand, stone-mullioned windows and its battlements and rooftop gargoyles.
The interior is a riot of oak doors, walls, and wainscoting; ornate plaster ceilings; an Elizabethan sandstone fireplace; and painted scenes and ancestral portraits in gilt frames. The stunning Great Hall, a vast room in Portland stone with comfy sofas and medieval tapestries, doubles as a reception area. The airy guest rooms are individually decorated with period furnishings. The grounds offer nature trails, golf, croquet, clay-pigeon shooting, tennis, and archery. The castle is 1½ km (1 mile) downriver from, should you require a few additional distractions. If ferries are the most poetic of roads, then this one leads you to the most romantic of hotels.
INSIDER TIPBuilt for the Fitzgerald family, the castle was in their hands for 800 years—look for the carved family coat of arms.