The Irish castle is the ultimate accommodation for anyone visiting Ireland. For many, the words Irish castle conjures up images of luxurious evenings spent sipping cordials by a peat fire in a great room while ordering turn down service and chocolates for your room. You certainly can find these activities, but there are many types of stately houses and experiences in Ireland.
Four or Five-Star Irish Castle Hotel:
With their defending days behind them, many Irish castles have been repurposed into hotels. Owners try their best to keep the castle-like charm inside and out while ensuring twenty-first century necessities like indoor plumping and heat.
A four or five-star Irish castle usually has every luxury you’ve ever dreamed of at your fingertips. The service is usually top-notch making you feel like a Lord or Lady every time you visit. Among the many indulgences include slippers and robes next to four-poster beds with marble bathrooms with claw foot tubs, country stables and horseback riding lessons, and of course extravagant restaurants for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
To name a few:
Ballyseede Castle County Kerry
Adare Manor County Limerick
Dromoland Castle County Clare
Abbey Glen County Galway
Ballynahinch Castle County Galway
Ashford Castle County Mayo
Belleek Castle County Mayo
Lough Eske Castle County Donegal
Lough Rynn Castle County Leitrim
Cabra Castle County Cavan
Kilronan Castle County Roscommon
Kinnitty Castle Count Offaly
Castle Durrow County Laois
Clontarf Castle County Dublin
Barberstown Castle County Kildare
Irish Manor Houses
While not as grandiose as a true castle, for many visitors of Ireland, an Irish manor house is the perfect balance of luxury and intimacy. These once country estates have been transformed into beautiful boutique hotels. With fewer beds and smaller staff than a castle, the manor house can be a more intimate experience.
Delicious breakfasts are made to order. Think freshly squeezed orange juice and crepes with just picked berries from the garden. Some manor houses have full service restaurants, but most will at least offer to pack you a picnic lunch for exploring the area or dinner by request.
Irish manor houses may be most appealing because they are often as lavish but less expensive than their castle counterparts. There are many, many to choose from. Ireland’s Blue Book is a good place to start.
3 Star Castle Hotels & Castle Bed & Breakfasts
Prices for more rustic castles will likely be much less than the 4 or 5 star property. Before booking be sure to speak with the owner, examine the website, and check reviews to be sure it meets your expectations for that castle experience.
Smarmore Castle County Louth
Ross Castle County Meath
Castle Townshend County Cork
Killian Castle County Wexford
Rent a Castle/Castle Self-catering
If you wish, you may rent an entire castle. This is a popular option for those traveling with a large group or even those wishing to celebrate their nuptials in Ireland. It can get expensive, but if you have a large enough group or money isn’t an object, renting a castle is a fantastic way to experience Ireland.
A great website to begin searching is Castle Rentals Ireland, which will let you select a castle, manor house or tower by rental type and location. It is not a booking site, but will let you see the variety of options available and tell you how to book with the owners directly like Blackwater Castle in County Cork.
See also Irish Landmark Trust for castles other unique accommodation options like lighthouses, tower houses Georgian houses, etc.
You can also find some amazing castles to rent on AirBnB (but many of them book up well in advance). If you want $20 off your first stay with AirBnB, use this referral link (I get a little bonus for referring you and you get a discount. Yay! We both win!).
The best way to book an Ireland castle is directly from the owner’s website. Be to check their special offers page to see if you can get a better deal. Of course, feel free to phone the castle to talk to the booking manager in person. They may be willing to beat the online offer if you just simply ask. As always, the more nights you stay, the more likely you will be able to get a discount.
A credit card will be required for down payment. Some will even charge a small portion of the total room cost for security purposes.
Be sure to check their cancellation policy. If there is some reason you need to change your plans, it is always best to know in advance what charges you may be facing. All of the 4 and 5 star castles and most manor houses will accept major credit cards. Smaller establishments might want payment in cash (Euros).
Other Helpful Tips
Some castles in Ireland aren’t really castles at all. It is not to say that they aren’t lovely properties to stay in, but you should be aware that marketing can be deceiving. “Castle” may be in its name just because an abbey or historic ruin is nearby. Others built recently are constructed to look like a traditional castles, yet have little or no authentic structures.
A few properties have multiple lodging options, such as modern additions, to accommodate more guest rooms, amenities, etc. Be sure to indicate the particular room type you want, especially if you would like to stay in a historic area of the castle and not in a modern addition or a cottage nearby. By simply paying attention, you can avoid a disappointing arrival.
Take advantage of all the services that your Irish castle provides. Hiking or walking tours, fishing, shooting, or falconry. Led by local experts, these opportunities are well-organized and are exceptional memory makers. They may even be free to you as a paying guest.