Ireland Vacation Castles: Where to Stay and What to Tour

By Caitlin MakaLast Updated Apr 17, 2021 10:57:02 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Aleksandrs Mikulans/Getty Images

It’s estimated that there are over 30,000 castles in Ireland. Some are parts of ruins, some are homes, some are offices — and some castles in Ireland are available for people from all over the world to visit and stay in during their vacations.

Most of these castles were built before the United States were even colonies. These castles are isolated from cities, opening up the possibility for rest and relaxation. Many of the castles were built on the sides of mountains or in the middle of lakes. This makes your Irish vacation safer from invasions and the landscapes are pretty.

Some of these castles are excellent wedding venues, some are more suited for spa days and relaxation. Some of these Irish vacation castles are closer to different parts of the ocean, others have proximity to the city for day trips — there are a million reasons why staying at one of these vacation castles in Ireland are just so wonderful.

No matter how far into your COVID-19 vaccination process you are, you’ve probably been looking up flights and destinations since the second month of lockdown. While travel to Ireland is currently discouraged, daydreaming is an excellent coping mechanism for combating day-to-day stress and pandemic fatigue. The cost of these trips will vary as things continue to open up and develop, but prior to the pandemic, costs could range from two hundred pounds and up per night or a couple thousand pounds to secure the space for an event like a destination wedding.

With so many Ireland vacation castles to choose from, we compiled a list of some of the standout selections. Since 2020 has put us through enough, we chose not to use any of the castles known to be haunted.

Why Make Ireland Vacation Castles Your Destination?

What makes a castle in Ireland seem like such an amazing vacation home is that it’s both introvert and extrovert friendly. Splitting Ireland vacation castles among a large group of people could make the experience a more affordable one. Castles can go for 34,000 feet or larger, so there is plenty of room to distance oneself if need be. If 2020 has taught us anything, distance can save lives, but the castle’s potential to satisfy the extroverts of all sorts.

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Photo Courtesy: V. Gianella/Getty Images

Many of the Ireland vacation castles have driver services. This makes the experience feel more authentic in terms of how someone that lives in a castle is treated. It also means you could get more of a down- "irl" feeling before retreating back to your literal fortress — an introvert’s dream come true and a more lowkey way to vacation. Plenty of us will be ready too fatigued for cruises, nightclubs, and other large gatherings.

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After a year of isolation, rooms with large square footage surrounded by green hills and, maybe just a smidgeon of Irish cream, vacationing in an Irish castle sounds like just the right vibe. Throw in the opportunity to receive Irish breakfasts in the morning and not needing to clean the dishes and you may not want to return home.

The Top Irish Vacation Castle Hotels

The opportunity to stay in a castle in Ireland could be the perfect excuse to ring up the Ireland trip planner at your local travel agency. Neither the Irish economy nor your local travel agent will be upset about the business so long as you stay current with CDC guidelines.

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Photo Courtesy: Sura Ark/Getty Images

-* Kilkea Castle was built in the 12th century. In the late 1100s, Hugh de Lucy had the castle constructed for a knight named Walter de Riddlesford. You can rent the entire castle, which sleeps fifty-five, or you can rent one room, perfect for two.. There is a restaurant on the estate in addition to the private dining room. The Ireland vacation castle also has archery, golf, and the opportunity to get fishing, horseback riding, and for falconry. It’s only an hour from Dublin, Ireland’s capital, so its location is more than ideal for maximum adventuring.

* Ballynahinch Castle is a four star resort near Ireland’s western shore. The castle’s name translates to "house on a lake" and was built on an island in a lake, giving "lakefront property" more opulence than one might expect from the term.Just five miles from the Atlantic Ocean, there is a large fishery attached to the property. They provide a full-on Irish bed and breakfast experience, a far tone from the battles once fought near the castle in the 1300s.

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* Ashcroft Castle is one of the more popular of these types of hotels. With eighty-three rooms and a five-star experience, it’s easy to see why. The cheapest rooms start at €415 per night, so this is definitely more of a splurge location. In addition to the falconry and shooting that one might expect at an Ireland vacation castle, but there is also a movie theater and billiard room in the castle. It’s close to Galway airport and has a rich decor inside and out.

Ashford Castle Hotel and Country Estate was once home to the Guinness family. If that presence is not enough for you, the Ashford Castle’s self labeling of a "fairytale setting," "gourmet breaks," and "wellness escapes" could entice your inner skeptic. You know how castles in the UK are known for having dungeons? This castle turned their former dungeon into a basement restaurant. I wonder if they serve Guinness on tap?

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Dream On: 4 More Ireland Vacation Castles

Do you have a favorite castle yet? Is your mind filled with pleasant images of falconry and horseback riding? While every Ireland vacation castle will have physical activities and relaxation, but these next castles will focus on the latter. You might want to put some cucumbers over your eyes after learning about these castles.

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Photo Courtesy: Andrew Holt/Getty Images

Dromoland Castle Hotel and Spa incorporates wellness and relaxation into their packages and hosts seasonal events for the whole family. With different programming for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and summer, you might want to go back to this castle multiple times to get the full experience. Dromoland is not far from Limerick, one of the most popular vacation destinations in Ireland. You can even book longer stays for an apartment experience.

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Dunboyne Castle Hotel is a side-effect of Irish history. The original castle was destroyed during the Cromwellian Invasion of Ireland in the 1600s because the Butler family refused to convert to Protestantism. Another location near Dublin, the family packages and spa packages are worth looking into if you’re looking to live like aristocracy at a bourgeoisie rate.

Waterford Castle Hotel and Golf Resort, even the name sounds relaxing. Rooms start at low as €169 per night, but for less than an extra hundred pounds you can add little enhancements like afternoon tea or an evening meal to your stay. The customization options are fabulous and more hotels should follow suit. One side of the castle is covered in ivy, giving it an added Irish texture. Ten minutes from Waterford City, the castle sits at the southeastern shore of the country near St. George’s Channel. Depending on where your room is, you might just see Wales across the water from your window.

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Ballygally Castle is up in the northeast corner of Ireland near the shore. It’s closer to Scotland as opposed to Wales. We may have lied to you earlier about not selecting any haunted castles, but with rooms starting as low as €70 for a night, we couldn’t say no. There is a small room in the hotel known as "The Ghost Room," but the room is no longer in use. Reputed reports of ghost activity in the nights don’t scare you off, this Northern Ireland castle is the perfect hotel for you.

As you traverse the Emerald Isle in your mind, you may be looking for cheap flights or may be ready to daydream your way to another location. You may be ready to go back to work or get on with the next step of your day. Don’t daydream too hard too hard, but do dare to dream. It’s never been safer to live like Irish royalty: the churches are not in conflict, the British are doing their own thing, and this plague? It’s almost over.

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