Having never been to Ireland, I imagined what it would be like to sleep in castles with elegant hallways, grand staircases, sparkling chandeliers and offering gourmet cuisine. Fortunately, my husband and I came across Dromoland Castle in County Clare and it did not disappoint my active imagination. This is how I dreamt a castle stay would look like along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. I don’t remember what the weather was like in my dream, but as you’ll see from the picture above, we had blue skies and sunshine in early March! The luck of the Irish was with us on this trip. With 400 acres to explore and within easy reach of the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, you, too, can sleep as the Kings of Thomond did many years ago, yet in much more luxurious fashion.
Located next to Shannon International Airport, the 98 room Dromoland Castle is a five star hotel built in 1835. Steeped in history, this was the home of the O’Brien family, direct descendants of the first high King of Ireland. But enough about the history of the castle, there is so much to do here that you’ll need a week to try the horse riding, cycling (complimentary mountain bikes), archery, falconry, clay target shooting, fishing (you’re guaranteed to catch fish in the stocked pond) and Dromoland Golf and Country Club has some of the best golf facilities in all of Ireland at their 18 hole championship golf course. The Castle has created two self-guided walks on the estate for guests to enjoy.The property is constantly reinventing itself, so you’re going to find a nice mix of history, combined with high technology – yes, there is wifi throughout the castle.
If all those activities have tired you out, step into the spa at Dromoland for some pampering. There are six treatment rooms and an outdoor hydro Jacuzzi (not in commission on my visit.) I sampled the 50 minute full body massage featuring Pevonia Botanica products (€ 90 on my visit.)
Gourmet Irish dining
We had dinner in the Earl of Thomond Restaurant helmed by Executive Chef David McCann our first night and dinner the second night in nearby Ennis. Gentlemen, don’t forget to pack a sport coat! The staff was first rate and really knew their menu forward and back. I love the emphasis on local businesses – my Irish salmon was caught that morning in the bay and the Assiette of Irish Farm House cheese featured nine local cheeses. I’m pleased to say that our waitress took the time to review each cheese with me. (If you’re following me on Instagram, I’m posting a ton of Ireland pics!)
Our room, the Earl of Thomond Suite, was built into the original castle walls. The two story suite featured an elegant downstairs sitting and dining area, while the upstairs bedroom included a whirpool bathtub with overhead waterfall shower fixture. Also included in the room were plush robes, slippers, hairdryer and safe. Rooms feature American electrical outlet converters.
The breakfast buffet, served in Earl of Thomond, was over-whelming; so many breads and pastries to choose from. I really miss the full Irish breakfast, but what I really miss is afternoon tea! Mrs. White’s Afternoon Tea is served in the Drawing Room and Gallery between the hours of 1pm and 4pm daily and offers a lovely variety of tea, house made pastries and sandwiches. I recommend reservations for tea so that you will not be disappointed. In addition there is the Fig Tree Restaurant, Shannigans Gastro Pub and The Gallery. Of course there is room service available and picnic options, too.
Need to know:
Rates start at $252.00 for a Queen Anne room (Low Season January -March and November – December) to $1,985.00 per night for the Presidential Suite, including full Irish breakfast and tax (High Season May 15 – September 30.)
The above rates are per room, per night, maximum of 2 people per room. Triple occupancy is possible in Deluxe rooms, Executive Deluxe and Staterooms. Please note that there is an additional supplement for 3rd adult sharing of € 120.00 per night. Rates are inclusive of full Irish breakfast and Vat @ 9%. Children (under 12 years) may share with adults in Deluxe, Executive Deluxe and Stateroom Categories at no additional charge, when using existing bedding (ie 2 double beds). Please note a maximum of 2 adults and 2 children (under 12yrs) per room.
Breakfast is served daily. Winter hours: 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. & Summer hours: 7:30 – 10:00 a.m. While the property is not pet-friendly, with the exception of guide or service dogs, there is a kennel near the resort – operated by an outside vendor. Dromoland Castle is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Virtuoso Fine Hotels & Resorts, Signature Travel Network and Altour.
Check in: 4:00 p.m.
Check out: 12:00 p.m.
On property, be sure to visit the sculpture garden – the works of art are available for purchase. Nearby, horseback riding with Johnny Hasset at Ballyhannon House is available for beginning riders or experienced equestrians. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and @Dromoland Castle on Twitter.
If You Go:
Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland
Dromoland Castle review, YouTube video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Dromoland Castle while visiting Ireland.