The fantastical Emerald City might only exist in Oz, but the magical Emerald Isle stands waiting for all to experience its charms. Ireland is known for its rugged, beautiful landscape, history, and friendliness of its people. The island has something for everyone from the bustling city of Dublin to countryside that looks like a landscape painting come to life. Here are our favorite places to stay on our road trip through lush scenery in our Ireland travel guide.
In the main public areas guests will find Waterford Crystal chandeliers, hand-woven Venetian silk wall coverings, ancestral art and stained glass windows.
Fly into Shannon Airport and begin your Irish adventure on the west coast in County Clare. The county boasts some of the most picturesque Irish scenes and is known for the Cliffs of Moher, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Poulnabrone Dolman, Neolithic tomb and Bunratty Castle, a 13th Century castle that is now the heart of a heritage park.
Naturally in castle country, you need to stay in your own castle and the just refurbished 16th Century Dromoland Castle is the best place to call home for Ireland travel. Set on 450 acres, the castle boasts 97 guest rooms and suites, each updated in a neutral, contemporary palette to highlight original artwork by acclaimed Irish artist John Brennan. In the main public areas guests will find Waterford Crystal chandeliers, hand-woven Venetian silk wall coverings, ancestral art, stained glass windows and other luxurious appointments fit for the king of the manor.
While at the castle, steep yourself in history, partaking in the activities a royal might have years ago including clay shooting, falconry or archery. Or try your luck fishing for trout on Dromoland Lough. For more modern-day recreation, Dromoland offers a world-class 18-hole golf course. If being pampered is more your style, the indulgent Dromoland Royal Escape Signature Journey, featuring a massage and facial, shouldn’t be missed. Dining at Dromoland is an epicurean delight whether in the fine dining, Earl of Thomond restaurant, to a traditional fireside afternoon tea. But perhaps our favorite was rowing out on the lake with a Champagne picnic in tow.
County Clare is known for the many fantastic Irish musicians it has produced. Check out the local talent at the castle’s cocktail bar or head to one of the many Irish pubs nearby.
Just to the south of County Clare is County Limerick and the delightful Adare Village. The village is considered one of Ireland’s most attractive, and the area is known for its charming thatched roof cottages, many antique and crafts shops and traditional pubs.
Having gotten a taste of the royal life, we’re sure you aren’t ready to abdicate your crown just yet, and a stay at the five-star Adare Manor will keep you in the lifestyle you’ve quickly become accustom too. The castle sits on a massive 842-acre estate surrounded by medieval ruins, walled gardens and winding woodland paths beckoning exploration. Adare Manor underwent a massive renovation, the largest in Irish history, two years ago so the property retains all its historical charm, but with the conveniences modern monarchs demand. Virtuoso Travel named it 2018 Hotel of the Year.
The 104-room castle features 62 rooms in the original Manor and River Wing, and 42 new rooms in the West Wing. All the rooms are furnished in 19th Century style and afford anywhere from 463 sq. ft. to more than 1,000 sq. ft. of space. It’s also popular local for destination weddings.
There are plenty of unique activities to enjoy on property including the Gundog Experience. Historically, gun dogs assisted hunters with finding prey. Today the manor still trains a pack of Irish Labradors to do the same. Guests will have a chance to watch and interact with the dogs.
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Sheen Falls Lodge
SHEEN FALLS LODGE
Heading south to County Kerry, Sheen Falls Lodge is the ideal base to explore The Ring of Kerry, Beara Peninsula and Dingle. The Relais & Chateaux property offers standard and deluxe rooms, but for a truly memorable experience book one of five thatched roof cottages or villas. No matter where you stay on property, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Sheen Waterfalls or Kenmare Bay. The lodge offers a host of outdoor activities, including the opportunity to salmon fish on a private 15-mile stretch of the Sheen River. Special activities such as chocolate making, pottery lessons and treasure hunts can also be arranged.
Sheen Falls Lodge
If you book through Virtuoso Agent, Concierge Extraordinaire, you’ll enjoy several perks including a tour of Kenmare in the hotel’s 1936 Vintage Buick.
Mount Juliet Estate
MOUNT JULIET ESTATE
The 18th Century
Mount Juliet Estate boasts the classic Georgian manor house with 32 rooms, each named for a historic person in the house’s history, and a newer, 97-room chic country retreat, Hunter’s Yard. No matter which accommodations you choose, you’ll have access to a plethora of amenities on property including horseback riding, archery and fishing. After an action-packed day, enjoy dinner at the Michelin-starred The Lady Helen Restaurant. The gourmet cuisine is crafted from local ingredients, many grown in the property’s kitchen and herb gardens or its farm. For a more relaxed meal, visit The Hound in Hunter’s Yard, which features traditional cuisine that has earned the eatery a Michelin Plate.
Mount Juliet Estate
For something unique book the private falconry experience. Working with our falconer and your own hawk, you’ll learn the history and art of falconry as you walk and learn how to command the hawk. You will also have the opportunity to meet and fly one of the estate’s owls.
The top boutique hotel in Dublin, The Merrion, is the ideal place to wrap up your tour of the Emerald Isle. The five-star hotel comprises four Georgian Townhouses and a more contemporary Garden Wing. The Merrion sets itself apart boasting Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, the only two-star Michelin eatery in the entire country. Have a pre-drink aperitivo in The Cellar Bar, which is housed in the original 18th Century wine vaults.
While Dublin has plenty of excellent art museums, like the nearby National Gallery, art lovers won’t want to miss the Merrion’s extensive collection of 19th and 20th Century art, considered one of the best private collections of this era in Ireland. The hotel worked with the top creator of museum audio guide’s to develop a self-guided tour of 20 of the most important paintings in the hotel.
Grab one of the Merrion’s bikes and explore the capital city from shopping on Grafton Street, to seeing the famous Book of Kells at Trinity College. Dublin is known for its lively nightlife from touristy Temple Bar to cocktail lounges like the luxurious 9 below.
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