Ballyfin, Co. Laois
Perhaps the most ambitious Irish restoration to have been undertaken in recent years, Ballyfin is one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland. Built in the 1820s for Sir Charles Coote, a descendant of an Elizabethan adventurer, the building was most recently a boarding school, before a lengthy renovation transformed the property into a hotel dripping with charm. With only 21 decadent rooms, Ballyfin has a gloriously peaceful atmosphere, and the drawing rooms are both lavish and welcoming. Much of the food served in the restaurant is grown on site, and the food served here is renowned.
Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo
This sprawling castle is 800 years old, and perched on the stunning Lough Corrib, the largest lake in Ireland. There are an endless array of nooks and crannies where you can hide yourself away with a cup of tea, from the Billiards Room to the wood panelled Connaught Room. The hotel reopened in 2015 after a $75 million restoration, giving the property a facelift whilst retaining the historic elegance it was known for. Get into the countryside spirit with a spot of clay pigeon shooting, or learn how to fly a hawk at the Falconry School.
Castle Leslie Estate, Co. Monaghan
The Leslie family have resided on this beautiful country estate since 1665, and their history is as eccentric as the property itself (their ancestry can be traced back to Atilla the Hun). A stay at Castle Leslie is a blissful reprieve from modern day life – with no distractions from the outside world, you’re free to roam the 1,000 acres of countryside (on foot or on horseback), or settle in for Afternoon Tea in The Blue Room.
Hilton Park, Co. Monaghan
Built as a family home back in 1734, Hilton Park has the undeniable feel of a home, not a hotel. There are only six bedrooms, all kitted out with antique furniture (some with four-poster beds), roll-top baths, and amazing views through tall windows. You’ll find plenty of books scattered throughout the property, from the bedrooms to the drawing rooms, which are warmed by roaring log fires. If the weather is fine, you can go boating on the lake, play croquet on the lawn or avail of the 18-hole golf course.
Adare Manor, Co. Limerick
After a lengthy renovation, Adare Manor reopened in 2017, with original features restored and some swish new additions, including Ireland’s only La Mer Spa and a Tom Fazio golf course. The plans for the Manor House date back to 1832, and the interiors are as beautiful as the exterior is striking. There’s a small cinema, if you want to cosy up with a classic movie, or you can explore the grounds on a hand-built Pashley bicycle or horse drawn carriage.
Ballyvolane House, Co. Cork
A classic Georgian country house, Ballyvolane was built in 1728 by Sir Richard Pyne. After a few incarnations, it now welcomes guests through its doors, who come for the elegant bedrooms, warm atmosphere and maybe a taste of the gin that’s made on site. The salmon fishing is second to none, and you might even get a sample at dinner, which is served family style in the traditional candlelit dining room.