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Photograph: Courtesy Ashford Castle

The 10 best hotels in Ireland

From charming estates to five-star resorts and storybook castles, here are the very best hotels in Ireland

Written by
Helen Ochyra

Ah Ireland—land of misty mountains, emerald fields and ancient castles. Few places can beat this enigmatic island for history, culture and, above all, craic (Gaelic for "fun"). This is an island that knows how to have a good time, from its cosy pubs pulling pints of the black stuff to its hauntingly beautiful live music and staggeringly good local seafood.

Ireland has bags of personality and on your trip here you’re sure to want to stay somewhere with real character. We think every one of the places on our list of Ireland’s best hotels has it in spades, from four-poster beds and castle turrets to roaring fires and magnificent countryside—and even the room in which the world first learned of the sinking of the Titanic.

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Best hotels in Ireland

Where: Co Mayo

Not only is Ashford a castle – pretty cool in itself, you might think – but it’s one of Ireland’s most spectacular. The rooms here come complete with opulent canopied four-poster beds, dazzling chandeliers and sheening suits of armour. Plenty of the apartments boast sensational views over Lake Corrib – which flows down to the Atlantic at Galway – as well as access to a huge range of facilities, from golf and falconry to fishing, archery and kayaking. And be sure not to miss a trip down to the Dungeon, the atmospheric on-site restaurant that serves Irish classics beneath a stone ceiling decked with heraldic flags.

Where: Belfast

Belfast’s number one must-see is the waterfront Titanic Museum and the Titanic Hotel next door continues the shipbuilding theme with 119 bedrooms featuring nautical touches and Art Deco furniture. You’re staying in the old Harland & Wolff drawing offices—where the Titanic story really began—and many of the original 19th-century rooms have been restored. Check out the Telephone Exchange, where the world first heard of that iceberg, and take a seat in the grill restaurant for Irish dishes with views of the historic slipways where the White Star Line's Titanic, Olympic and Britannic were built.


Where: Dublin

The Dylan is surely the most stylish spot in Dublin; its Victorian brick surrounds contrasting chicly with the padded leather walls, swirly gilt mirrors and Baroque-style furniture. You’re on a quiet side street here so the capital’s mad nightlife won’t intrude on your slumber, but it’s just a pleasant 20-minute walk into the city centre. It’s worth having a night in to try the Tavern restaurant, which specialises in local seafood, and whether you’re eating in or out, don’t miss a nightcap in the Dylan bar, where the heated courtyard offers the chance to have a cocktail or Irish whiskey under the stars.

Where: Kerry

On the shores of Loch Caragh just off the gorgeous Ring of Kerry scenic loop drive is this country house home from home. Built by an English aristocrat in 1913 it is all elegance, right down to its lakeside lawns, where afternoon tea is served. The 32 acres of gardens are a delight – follow secret pathways to secluded glens – and the lounge has a fire and complimentary bar. At Ard na Sidhe, the best rooms are in the main house, with antique furniture and no TVs to disturb the peace. There’s also an intimate restaurant serving Atlantic fish and Kerry lamb.


Where: Fermanagh Lakelands

Lough Erne Resort has an unrivalled location on a 600-acre peninsula in the Fermanagh Lakelands. This makes a great base for touring north-west Ireland, which feels as if it’s trying to clamber in the window from all angles. Rooms are set up to make the most of the view and some look out onto the Faldo Course, one of Ireland’s best golf courses, designed by renowned pro golfer Nick Faldo. The spa has a Thai flavour with traditional Thai massages and tropical rain showers, while the Catalina restaurant serves three AA Rosette-rated cuisine beneath glittering chandeliers—and with more lake views.

Where: Wicklow

Although Powerscourt is just half an hour’s drive from Dublin, the city feels a million miles away. The Palladian-style building sits at the base of Sugar Loaf mountain, and rooms are designed to make the best of the view; some have balconies, while the Presidential Suite has a rooftop terrace with views of the Wicklow mountains. There are three places to eat here—the fine-dining Sika Restaurant, the Sugar Loaf lounge for afternoon tea, and McGills Irish pub for top-quality traditional pub dishes—and the spa could lose you an entire day with its thermal suite, 20m crystal-lit pool and gym.


Where: Co Mayo

Clew Bay is said to have an island for every day of the year. The best place to base yourself to explore this stunning seascape is Westport, a trim Georgian town that is home to this cracker of a four-star. Castlecourt rooms are a cut above other hotels of this price, with canopied four-poster beds in some rooms, and the facilities are excellent – there’s even a 20m indoor swimming pool. The spa has a thermal suite and tons of treatments, while the Orchard restaurant is an elegant place for dinner, with Irish meets Gallic dishes and a great selection of steaks.

Where: Killarney

Some of Ireland’s finest Lakeland scenery surrounds Killarney and the country’s highest mountains, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, towering to above 1,000m, are just a few miles away. No wonder then that this resort town developed in the Victorian era – and that one of Ireland’s best hotels is right at its centre. The Killarney Park Hotel has classic rooms that cry out for you to slip into a robe and relax, and afternoon tea can be taken by the fire or in the drawing room. There’s also a sunny terrace for post-walk drinks and the chandelier-decked Park Restaurant for fine Irish dining.


Where: Co Meath

A Palladian-style mansion turned luxury hotel, Bellinter House is less than an hour’s drive north of Dublin and within a short distance of Newgrange’s Unesco-listed 5,000-year-old passage tomb. The countryside setting is pretty spectacular – and the hotel is primed to make the most of it. Featuring facilities for fishing, clay pigeon shooting and horse riding, the rooms themselves are packed with individual charms. Many have exceptionally lovely views onto the surrounding plains, as well as high ceilings, wooden floorboards and vintage furniture.

Where: Co Donegal

When you’re next winding your way down the Wild Atlantic Way (for those not in the know, perhaps Europe’s best road trip), a stop at Nesbitt Arms Hotel in Ardara, Donegal, is essential. This family-run boutique estab is ideally located for the WAW, but it’s also just 45 minutes’ drive from the epic cliffs of Slieve League and only 35 minutes from the picturesque town of Glencolmcille – via, of course, the dramatic Glengesh Pass. The hotel itself features swishly designed rooms that are simple but stylish, while the Ramblers Bar serves up great food and plenty of atmosphere.

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