Now that it's had €10 million spent on it, Clontarf Castle is looking every inch the swanky modern hotel (except, of course, for the elements of the 12th-century structure that have been artfully integrated into the design). The original castle here was built in 1172 by Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath, and while there's not much left of that structure, what remains does give the hotel a unique atmosphere; particularly impressive is the vast reception area, with looming castle walls, grand piano and proud lion sculptures standing guard.
Decadent blood-red fabrics cover the armchairs, and while there might be the odd suit of armour or faded tapestry dotted about the place, it's far from fusty, thanks to various striking modern touches (such as the new glass entrance, which accounted all on its own for a million of the refurb money). And pared-down decor, cast-iron bathtubs and mod cons aplenty ensure the guest rooms are suitably grand. Well-appointed conference facilities mean that many of your fellow guests may be decked out in suits.