Isn’t it every girl's dream to stay in a castle? In Ireland, with its rolling green pastures, dramatic coastal cliffs and enchanting forests these whimsical dreams can come true.
Tempo Holidays offers independent and group touring options throughout Ireland, and castle accommodation is happily included in your next adventure.
Combining history, luxury and beautiful architecture, experience the wonder Ireland with your very own castle retreat. Each castle hotel has its own charms, so which is right for you? Here, we take you through our top 5 picks for the best castle for your fairy-tale
1. Ashford Castle
The gorgeous Ashford Castle is the epitome of grandeur, perfect for luxury relaxation with accommodating staff to wait on you hand and foot. As soon as you pull through the gates, the imposing five star castle hotel will impress, surrounded by extensive grounds on the shores of Lough Corrib. The original castle was built in the 13th century, while the current building is Victorian in appearance from the famous Guinness family’s expansion of the wings. In April 2015 the Castle was reopened to guests after two years and $75 million-worth of renovations and was named the Number 1 Resort or Inn in Great Britain and Ireland in 2016.
With 350 acres of ancient woodlands, there are many activities to experience a slice of aristocratic life - why not try clay shooting, archery, falconry, horse riding, tennis, golf or a lazy traditional boat trip with some fishing in the Irish sun? For more modern pursuits, there is zip-lining and tree-climbing, cycling and kayaking, luxury chartered lake cruising. Better yet, round out your luxurious stay with a treatment at the Ashford Castle Spa.
2. Dromoland Castle
Be transported back in time under glistening antique chandeliers in this five star castle. With impressive service and striking furniture, the gothic revival style Dromoland Castle will leave you in awe. The ancestral homes of the O’Brien’s, the Earls of Thomond, their lineage goes back 1000 years to the only High King of Ireland Brian Boru. Immerse yourself in historic prestige with grand staircases, ornate fireplaces and sumptuous brocade or visit the restaurant that serves delectable food in a grand setting. Delicious cocktails are served in the Library bar - why not kick back and relax, you are on holidays after all! You can also enjoy falconry, archery, boating, clay pigeon shooting, tennis, walking and mountain biking and an 18-hole championship golf course.
3. Abbeyglen Castle
A four star castle hotel, this is a relaxed more intimate castle experience with only nine suites and a fantastic base to explore magnificent Connemara. With a warm welcome and open fires you will instantly feel at home and it is only a short stroll down to the quaint village of Clifden, with many lively pubs and unique shops. The castle was built in 1832 and boasts magnificent views of Clifden Bay, nestled amongst the Twelve Bens Mountain range. The Twelve Bens present some wonderful walking opportunities while the nearby Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park are well worth a visit. There is also a nearby golf course as well as the in-house Wellness and Relaxation Centre to while away your worries in a spa.
4. Ballyseede Castle
Be swept up in a ghoul’s tale with your stay at Ballyseede Castle! Because no castle is complete without a ghost, this 16th century castle is home to the ghosts of residents past who tread the basement halls every March 24th. Never fear, the ghost Hilda is generally thought of fondly.
Ballyseede Castle has a long and dramatic history. The seat of the Fitzgerald’s, the Earl of Desmond, who refused to swear fealty to the Crown and were involved in the Geraldine Wars over three centuries. With the bloody end of the last Earl, the Crown granted the land to Robert Blennerhasset in 1584 with the rent being a single red rose to be presented every Midsummer’s Eve. The land stayed with the family until 1966 and is today transformed into a luxury four star hotel.
The two magnificent drawing rooms, the Residents Lounge and the Pembroke Room, are decorated with ornamental foliage plaster in the cornices dominated by marble fireplaces and are ideal to relax with afternoon tea. The front lawn is adorned with ancient oaks while the Library bar holds a unique carved oak chimney piece with a mantle dating back to 1627. The numerous suites are all well-appointed and tastefully decorated with comfortable facilities and beautiful bathrooms.
5. Clontarf Castle
Enjoy the luxurious castle experience and see cosmopolitan Dublin at the same time! Clontarf Castle has been many things in its life - a bar, a cabaret lounge, a manor house frequented by the composer Handel and inspiration for the great artist Turner. There has been a castle on this site since the Middle Ages although the current four star hotel is in a 19th century building. Clontarf Castle offers you everything you could want from a castle experience with luxuriously furnished rooms and delicious cuisine while being very close to Dublin and the sea. The concierge is happy to help you plan your day trips into Dublin, the ancient Viking city that featured in Lonely Planet’s 2016 Cities to Visit.
For something completely different, why not experience a slice of rural Irish life with a farmstay? Moriarty's Farmhouse B&B is only eight kilometres from Dingle town and is the perfect base for a few days’ exploration of the visually stunning Ring of Kerry.
Enjoy an authentic farmstay experience by taking part in daily chores such as collecting eggs or feeding the animals, while local activities available include kayaking, swimming, windsurfing, cycling and horse riding. The B&B is family run and is only a short walk from the stunning Ventry Beach. Accommodation at Moriarty's Farmhouse can be incorporated into a tailor-made itinerary of Ireland or included in the ready-made Irish Culinary Experience self-drive package.
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