Did you know that 70% of Ireland’s wild flowers are grown in the Burren? The unique floral landscape is laced with hazelnut trees and mossy banks, an ideal hiding spot for Gentian fairies. The spring Gentian blooms in May, its flowers a vibrant blue color. How do I know this? I had the pleasure of staying several nights with Simon Haden and Freddie McMurray in their 18th-century manor house known as Gregans Castle. Located in Ballyvaughn, County Clare, Ireland, Gregans Castle is a special place, as is the Burren. It is a land of contrasts with an invitation from its local residents to slow down, inhale deeply and explore even deeper. Let’s dive in.
I loved everything about the four star hotel manor house, from its 21 country-chic bedrooms and suites to its fabulous, award-winning cuisine. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable about this one-of-a-kind area perched along the Wild Atlantic Way. Two nights was not enough time to explore this area with its quaint village, the famous Poulnabrone dolmen and the picturesque Cliffs of Moher. If you’ve yet to explore the Burren, you’ll want to have Gregans Castle serve as your home base.
We arrived in the afternoon, having left Dromoland Castle that morning, stopping to visit The Burren Perfumery & Tea Rooms, Hazel Mountain Chocolate, Birds of Prey Centre & Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan. This is all before driving up to Poulnabrone dolmen for sunset. Did I mention that there was plenty to see and do in County Clare?
We had booked a casual dinner in The Corkscrew Bar, saving our formal dinner in the restaurant for the next evening – justifying that we would burn off some calories from our morning walk along the Cliffs of Moher. We couldn’t have been more delighted with our pub fare dinner. If the dry aged Irish sirloin steak with mustard mash and sauteed brussel sprouts was any indication of our anticipated meal the next night, we were in for a treat.
With 21 rooms and suites in the castle, all have been meticulously decorated by co-owner Freddy McMurray. Some of the rooms have their own private garden area. Our superior room, Mina’s room, rented for €305 per night for two persons, including breakfast, and looked out to the garden and The Burren beyond. All rooms offer bathrobes, complimentary mineral water, REN bath amenities, evening turndown service and complimentary wifi. Delightfully, there was no television in the room – you come to Gregans Castle for the views.
Children are welcome at Gregans Castle, but you’ll need to make special arrangements for early dining with the wee ones. Children will love the Birds of Prey Center (adults will, too.) Next time we visit I plan to go horseback riding and take in a sheepdog demonstration at Caherconnell Stone Fort visitor center.
As Americans, we tend to perk up when we hear that famous celebrities have stayed at the places we’ve stayed. With that in mind, I’ll share that Jerry Garcia, Kathleen Turner, Sharon Stone and Kathy Bates have stayed here. It’s also true that J.R.R. Tolkien was a guest of the hotel and was influenced by the Burren when writing The Lord of the Rings. Come see this place for yourself and you’ll understand why I can’t wait to return.
Need to know:
Breakfast is served in the dining room from 8:00am-10:00am. A full traditional afternoon tea is served daily from 2:30-4:30pm.and is priced at €27.50 per person. Gregans Castle is pet-friendly. You might want to request a superior room with access to the garden – your dog will thank you.
Rates start at €175 – €485 per night, including breakfast. Lower prices are available in spring and autumn, with higher rates in summer season. Please note that the hotel is closed the first weekend in November until Valentine’s Day in February. Gregans Castle is a member of Ireland’s Blue Book.
Check in: 4:00 p.m.
Check out: 12:00 p.m.
Take advantage of a three hour guided walk on The Burren, a wonderful educational experience with Shane, their next door neighbor. For more information on this walk visit the website. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and @Gregans Castle Hotel on Twitter and Instagram @GregansCastle.
If You Go:
Gregans Castle Hotel 353 65 707 7005
The Burren, Ballyvaughn, County Clare, Ireland H91 CF60
Gregans Castle review, YouTube video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Gregans Castle while visiting County Clare, Ireland.