Dromoland Castle – Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare
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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. For those who want to take things slowly, why not spend the morning reading the papers by the fire in the antique-filled gallery and drawing room, before booking in for pampering treatments in the spa? Meanwhile, the 450-acre estate offers country pursuits galore, including archery, clay shooting, horse riding and falconry. Dromoland Lough is excellent for trout fishing and boating, plus there’s an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, walled gardens and woodland to explore, and go-karting for the kids.
Doubles from approx. £351
+ (0)3536 1368144; dromoland.ie