For a lot of us, the idea of sleeping in a castle seems like something that can only be done if you belong to a Royal Family…..or are living in a fairytale world! In Ireland, however, that’s not the case at all. Our little island is home to some of the most beautiful, historical and luxurious castles in the world and the best part about of all that you can sleep in many of them! Having stayed at many of the most luxurious hotels around the world on my travels, including a private island in the Maldives, I still believe Ireland has some of the top hotels in the world. Here’s my pick of ten of the best castles in Ireland to stay the night in…or a few nights if you can afford it!
READ: Castles of Ireland by Mairéad Ashe FitzGerald
Top 10 Castles In Ireland
10. Ballynahinch Castle, Galway
This is an old hunting lodge with a very rich and illustrious history. Ballynahinch Castle is far out on the West coast of Ireland, in Connemara, one of the richest and lush parts of Ireland. Grace O’ Malley, the famous pirate queen of Ireland once resided in this beautiful place and it’s not hard to see why.
Ballynahinch is most famous for its abundance of fisheries and it has its own river running through the land. The quality of the salmon in this area is amazing and there are plenty of opportunities to learn fly fishing. As well as that the land and the gardens are so BEAUTIFUL. You won’t ever need to leave!
If you decide to, Connemara national Park is right at your doorstep and there are a lot of different hikes you can do there as well. Not to be missed!
9. Abbey Glen Castle, Galway
This one’s a personal favourite of mine. It’s a beautiful castle, slightly newer than others on this list. This was built in 1832 and was a lot of different things before it became such a luxurious castle hotel.
There’s something about Abbey Glen Castle that’s slightly different than the others. In the lounge area Gilbert the parrot used to talk to all the people passing by. Unfortunately Gilbert passed away a couple of years ago and has been replaced by Froda! She’s got a bit of learning to do but she’s getting there.
The food is out of this world and the dessert bar has to be seen to be believed. But what makes it special is the personal feel this hotel has. After dinner the owner of the castle will sit down in the lounge and play away on the piano. If anybody wants to play a song they can pop up and play for everybody. It’s got a great, cosy feel for such a large castle! Definitely one to check out, and one of the best value castles in Ireland!!
8. Waterford Castle Hotel, Waterford
This one’s special because, although it is a beautiful castle in itself, it also is on its own private ISLAND! Don’t believe me? Look: The castle is situated in the middle of its very own golf course; the only way to get out there form the mainland is via the hotels private ferry. If golf is your thing, this is the perfect place for you, if it’s not, the island is also renowned as a bird sanctuary.
There are only 19 rooms in the hotel, and their restaurant was also mentioned in the 2015 Michelin guide. It is an intimate, cosy place which would be perfect for you to switch off for a few days. You can even check out an incredible drone video of the property to help you make you decision!
7. Dromoland Castle, Clare
George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have both stayed here when they visited Ireland. Dromoland is one of the most elegant, lush castles in the country. The estate itself is massive, sprawling over 450 acres of countryside. There are golf courses, falconry, horse-riding, and an abundance of wildlife throughout the land.
The dining facilities are also absolute class and very suitable for weddings. It would be a shame to miss out on a place like this!
6. Killiane Castle, Wexford
A lot of the castles on this list are huge, grand places. Killiane Castle is a bit different but in a wonderful way. It is a castle/ farmhouse instead of a massive castle. It is part Norma castle, part 17th century house. There are also dungeons, round towers and much more to explore and find in this cosy place.
The rooms are quaint and it really feels you are in the bed of the farmer instead of a king! So if you feel like something less grand but equally as beautiful this is the one for you!
5. Adare Manor, Limerick
Ok, this isn’t EXACTLY a castle… But look at it! It absolutely has to have a place on this list. Adare Manor was built in the 1800’s but still has walls and parts from the 1700’s. This place is absolutely stunning. The high ceilings, the grand architecture, the Victorian paintings on the wall and of course the chandeliers! It really has to be seen to be believed.
Every part of this manor is designed to look exactly as it did over a hundred years ago. Stepping through the doors is like stepping into the past. This one truly is a gem.
4. Ashford Castle, Mayo
Gifted to the Irish Government in 1939 this castle is very well known throughout the world. Acclaimed movie The Quiet Man was filmed here. Kings, Queens and even The Beatles have stayed here in the past!
Of all the castles in Ireland, this one is definitely the most famous having won the award of “Best Hotel in The World a few years back. One of its most beautiful features is the bridge entering the property… it is stunning!
What a way to enter your very own castle! It was completely refurbished in 2015, so if you want to stay somewhere with a rustic exterior and stunning, classical interior… this is the place. What are you waiting for?!
3. Ballygally Castle, Antrim
If you decide to head up to Northern Ireland to see the beautiful Giants Causeway or Dunluce Castle, then why not stay in a castle out by the sea! Ballygally Castle is one of the older castles on our list, built back in 1625. This castle looks different to the others as it has a slightly more Scottish influence as it was built by a Scot!
One of the most exciting features of this castle is its infamous ‘Ghost Room’. Lady Isobel Shaw and Madame Nixon are two ghosts who like to knock on doors at night. So if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill you’ve found the right place!
2. Lough Cultra Castle, Galway
If you REALLY want to get away with your close family and friends, or even if you want a great wedding location, this is the place. You can rent out the WHOLE CASTLE for a starting price of $24,000. The castle sleeps 17 so it is very spacious. Bargain, right? ;-) The view from the top on a chilly spring morning is something else too. The history of this area dates back to 866 AD. There are still ruins dotted around the place and it is a wonderful choice if you want to escape and explore.
1. Ard na Sidhe, Kerry
That’s a hard one to pronounce. In English it means ‘Hill of the Faries’ and it certainly does look magical. Ard Na Sidhe is nestled in a forest, on the edge of a lake in the South-West coast of Ireland and it really is wonderful. It is in one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland, Kerry, with stunning scenery and gorgeous drives. This castle was built by Lady Gordon over a hundred years ago and according to her it “has never looked new”.
The interior is refined and delicate and the surrounding grounds make for some very pleasant strolls amongst nature. The architect of the house took inspiration from the ruined churches in the area. It truly is another gem.
So that’s my list, but there are many, many more dotted around Ireland. These ones offer a variety of different things pending on the type of getaway you are looking for.
So, which one would you pick?
BONUS: Rent your own PRIVATE castle on Airbnb – more info here!