The Best Hotels in Ireland
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The Best Hotels in Ireland

Where to rest your head on the Emerald Isle

Are the British mad? We have a hard time persuading them to head for Ireland for a short break, but honestly, even a quick weekend is worth its weight in golden leprechauns and anyone who ignores the Emerald Isle and all its glories is simply missing out. Here we highlight the best hotels in Ireland.

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Best Hotels in Ireland

These reviews of hotels in Ireland are taken from this year’s Great British & Irish Hotels Guide. You can read the full reviews online or purchase your print Hotels Guide here

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The interior of the Morrison Room at Carton House in Ireland

Carton House, A Fairmont Managed Hotel – Maynooth, County Kildare

Calling lovers of historical whimsy, fans of decadent stucco work, and fanatical golfers after a 1000 acre parkland that’s one of the best on the Isle, Carton House is calling your name. The hotel, which has recently undergone a multi-million-pound restoration, has counted many a distinguished guest over its impressively long history, including Queen Victoria and Julie Andrews (also a queen in her own right, Princess Diaries fans will argue). This historical marvel isn’t one to miss.

Read our review of Carton House


+353 1 505 2000 /

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The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat

The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat – County Antrim

Fresh from an 18-month £10 million revamp, The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat is the new laidback little sister to Galgorm. This lakeside retreat has four room types all with seriously comfy beds and Scandi-inspired style – think cane bed heads, faded Persian rugs on wooden floorboards and tassel-fringed lighting. Some Comfy rooms come with an outdoor tub in a private courtyard while a pair of Luxe rooms each has a free standing bath and views of the garden or lake.


+44 (0)2894 432984 /

Ballynahinch hotel

Ballynahinch – Recess, County Galway

Set at the foot of the Twelve Bens, Ballynahinch Castle has a history as colourful as its riverside setting is stunning. Surrounded by 700 acres of rugged Connemara landscape, it’s a hotel with a big heart that captivates its many returning guests. It enchanted Seamus Heaney, who wrote his fine poem Ballynahinch Lake while staying here, and it captivated delightful General Manager Patrick O’Flaherty, who has been at the helm for 20 years and lives with his family on the estate. Don’t worry – no spa or heliport here, just superb salmon fishing (the atmospheric, wood-panelled pub is full of memorabilia and has a famous set of weighing scales), spacious bedrooms, good food, comfort and kindness. In the elegantly redecorated restaurant, hung with superb 20th-century Irish art, you will kill for a table overlooking the Owenmore River. Stewarding the kitchen is head chef Pete Durkan, under whose watch Ballynahinch has earned two AA rosettes. He ensures that dining is a highlight of your stay, one that you will only want to repeat. 

Read Jeremy Taylor’s experience of Ballynahinch as part of his road trip across Ireland


+353 (0)95 31006 /

Ballyvolane House

Ballyvolane House – Castelyons, County Cork

Imagine a grand, Italianate, Irish Georgian country house; gorgeous but lived-in and run as a guest house by its old-school owners since the mid-1980s. Imagine their son growing up there, then leaving to work at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and later as general manager at Babington House. Imagine him returning home to take over the reins and run the hotel his way. You are imagining Ballyvolane. Filled with antiques, oozing atmosphere, it’s also – thanks to deft touches from Justin Green and his wife Jenny – somewhere that’s cool and stylish too.


+353 (0)25

The Harrison Chambers of Distinction

The Harrison Chambers of Distinction – Belfast

A boutique hotel in a leafy neighbourhood on the doorstep of Belfast’s theatre and museum quarter, The Harrison Chambers of Distinction is a jewel-box labour of love created by its well-travelled owner, Belfast native Melanie Harrison. Melanie has taken a fine 19th-century merchant’s home and begun a new chapter in its tale, transforming the building into a darling hotel with 16 elegant, playful rooms that make the perfect backdrop for one’s own Belfast story.


+44 (0)2894 600123 / 

Culloden Estate and Spa

Culloden Estate & Spa – Belfast

Standing high on the slopes of the Holywood Hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim Coastline, the Culloden Estate & Spa was once a former palace for the Bishops of Down. All rooms and suites are palatial and elegant, furnished with deeply comfortable cloud beds; Garden Rooms are decorated with a rich, opulent palette while most Estate Rooms have high ceilings and original cornicing. Guests can also enjoy a Bridgerton-inspired afternoon tea in the Lough Bar and drink pints of Guinness in Cultra Inn, a traditional pub and bistro with a roaring log fire in winter and stunning estate views.


+44 (0)28 9042 1066 /

The Currarevagh Hotel Shanballymore

Currarevagh House – Lough Corrib, Country Galway

‘Things have always stayed the same here,’ says Henry Hodgson, the fifth generation to run the family home as a guest house, ‘it would be rude to change them now.’ And that’s the joy of this Victorian country house, which first welcomed paying guests in 1890 as a sporting lodge. Beautifully set on the shores of Lough Corrib, with huge sash windows and original shutters, the house was built in 1842, though the family has owned the estate since the 18th century. Inside, you are transported to a calmer, more dignified time (wifi is the only modern concession), where a gong heralds dinner and the breakfast coffee is served in original Fifties glass Cona siphons, warmed by methylated spirit burners.


+353 (0)9155


Galgorm – County Antrim

The River Maine flows through this lush, 163-acre parkland that is renowned for its Par-72 championship golf course and thermal spa – the first of its kind in Ireland. Only 30 minutes drive from Belfast yet a world away, it has 125 bedrooms with Rolf Benz furniture, spacious marble bathrooms and knockout views of the estate. Spend days in the spa, drifting between the riverside vitality pool and The Palm House, an ornate botanical structure set among olive trees and apple orchards in The Serenity Garden – the perfect space to kick back with a delicious aperol gin fizz cocktail (the Celtic Sauna Infusion is a must too).


+44 (0)28 2588 1001 /


Ballyfin – County Laois

One of Ireland’s most important neoclassical houses, Ballyfin stands in its own 614-acre demesne, which includes a lake, Victorian fernery, Edwardian rockery and walled garden, not to mention the tower with panoramic views. A Downton-esque knot of staff await guests on the steps as they arrive, setting the tone for service that is old school, yet warm and friendly – Richard E. Grant once quipped that it is ‘like stepping back in time, without the inconvenience of no electricity’.


+353 (0)5787

Dromoland Castle

Dromoland Castle – Newmarket-On-Fergus, County Clare

The ancestral home of the O’Briens of Dromoland, whose lineage dates back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, one of the last High Kings of Ireland, this historic castle hotel has been welcoming guests since the 16th century. As you’d expect, it’s fit for royalty, from the delightfully sumptuous bedrooms (the best suites each have a grand four-poster bed and a separate dressing room) to the fine-dining restaurant the Earl of Thomond, where chefs marry classical cooking techniques with the finest Irish produce. The beauty of a stay here is that days are as relaxed or active as you wish.


03536 1368144 /

The Westbury Bedroom

The Westbury – Dublin

Standards are always high at The Doyle Collection, and never more so than at The Westbury, a Dublin landmark. Like its three London sisters, The Kensington, The Bloomsbury and The Marylebone, it marries sleek design with intuitive staff and luxuriously comfortable rooms and suites. Its unrivalled location, overlooking Grafton Street, means a galaxy of consumer delights on the doorstep. After a long day exploring the city your room will seem like the answer to a prayer – enveloping and soothing in shades of taupe, with custom-woven Irish wool carpets, mohair-covered chairs and underfloor-heated marble bathrooms.


+353 (0)1679 1122 /

The Merrion Hotel

The Merrion – Dublin

Dublin’s finest hotel is effortlessly gracious. Everything feels right, from the location opposite Government Buildings to the twinkly doormen, polished service and classically elegant bedrooms. Four tall and sober Georgian townhouses – one of which was the birthplace of the first Duke of Wellington – have been opened up to create a series of expansive, welcoming reception rooms with stucco ceilings, peat fires, antique furniture and the owner’s outstanding collection of 19th and 20th century Irish art, which you can learn about in a discreet audio tour. No surprise that charming general manager, Peter MacCann, has been in place since The Merrion opened, but quite a surprise to find that was just 22 years ago. It feels timeless.


+353 (0)1603

Gregans Castle

Gregans Castle – Ballyvaughan, County Clare

Although Gregans is certainly a gem, it’s not a castle, despite the name. It’s another of Ireland’s fine crop of Georgian houses – the real castle, a 15th-century tower house, stands across the road. With sweeping windows and a surprising spread of rooms, both gracious and intimate, the house has an immediately soothing effect, but it’s the location that creates the extra twist. Gregans Castle stands in the Burren, a unique region of limestone terraces strewn with wildflowers, ancient burial tombs, stone forts and ecclesiastical ruins. It’s no surprise then that JRR Tolkien – who stayed here – is said to have been influenced by its magic when writing The Lord of the Rings.


+353 (0)65 707 7005 /

Main image: Carton House


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