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Fall in love with 7 of the most romantic hotels in Ireland

If you fell in love with the epic scenery in The Banshees of Inisherin, these Emerald Isle escapes offer dramatic landscapes and refined luxury in equal measure

We have The Banshees of Inisherin to thank for putting the wild beauty of Ireland back on the map. Though Inisherin is, in fact, fictional, the film’s scene-stealing locations are set on the Irish west coast, a visual feast of green valleys, idyllic sandy bays and dramatic cliffs. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the Emerald Isle, we’re curated the very best hotels to book for a five-star stay.

The Glossary Edit

The Most Romantic Hotels in Ireland

Adare Manor

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Set in a rolling 840-acre estate, right by the River Maigue, Adare Manor is easily one of the most romantic hotels in Ireland. The original neo-Gothic building is impressive; the rare ‘Calendar House’ is adorned with 365 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, 7 stone pillars and 4 towers to mark the tally of days, weeks, and seasons in a year. Interiors don’t let the side down either, with sumptuous attention-to-detail across the suite of reception rooms and 104 bedrooms. You can also stay in one of the lodges or cottages, nestled deep in the grounds, including the Chocolatier House. The historic cottage is being reimagined as a sanctuary for the sweet-toothed, making its debut in Easter 2024, when guests can indulge in the finest artisan chocolates and cocktails, whilst also succumbing to complete and utter relaxation. 

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The Spa is home to Ireland’s only spa concept by 111SKIN, while the more energetic will appreciate the Padel Club, which has padel courts, a sports simulation room, swimming pool, contemplative studio… plus, of course, there’s the championship-worthy golf course and the Wild Atlantic Way on your doorstep. It’s worth working up an appetite. From Michelin-starred in the Oak Room to afternoon tea in the 40-metre Gallery, amidst the tapestries, stained glass windows and choir stalls, the dining here is sublime (not to mention the 160 rare bottles of whiskey, should the urge take you). 

Adare, County Limerick, V94 W8WR
adaremanor.com

Ballymaloe House

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You’ll likely recognise the name Ballymaloe as one of the most famous cookery schools in the world – and, indeed, students from all over the world have been going there since 1983 to hone their skills (their alumni reads like a Who’s Who of the culinary world). But it’s also home to the family-run country house hotel and restaurant Ballymaloe House. Accommodation is elegantly simple – choose from a room in the main house or one in the lime-washed, rose-covered farm building in the courtyard. Either way, expect lovely touches – a bunch of freshly cut sweet peas in your room perhaps or a crackling fire in the grate. Days are peaceful, spent reading in the shade of the garden or going for long walks by the sea. 

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But it’s the restaurant, which is the main event, arguably the birthplace of modern Irish cuisine. Awarded a Michelin star multiple times, the emphasis is on home-grown and locally sourced, from the garden, the farm and the fishing boats that come into the tiny harbour of Ballycotton. The result is a menu that’s as fresh as it is innovative. You might be eating Free Range House Smoked Quail Salad Tiède, East Cork Rack of Lamb with Mint Membrillo or just-picked-from-the-garden pear tart. The wine cellars are exceptional. 

Ballymaloe More, Shanagarry, County Cork, ‍P25 Y070
ballymaloe.ie

Ashford Castle

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Sweeping through the stone gateway and up the drive to the 800-year-old Ashford Castle, deep in beautiful County Mayo, is quite the entrance. Hardly surprising when you consider it was once the home of the Guinness family and has hosted everyone from the Prince of Wales (later King George V) to President Ronald Reagan and Grace Kelly. The grandiose building has since undergone an impeccable renovation by Red Carnation Hotel Collection (to the tune of $75million) and is now an 83-room hotel. The no-expense-spared interiors incorporate traditional Irish craftsmanship with exquisite design, successfully combining historic touches with all the luxury you’d expect – think opulent drapery, ornate mantels and huge windows with views across Lough Corrib.

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Should the weather be inclement, there is plenty to keep you amused indoors including a cinema, billiard room and kids’ playroom. But it’s the spa which is the scene-stealer with its elegant pool housed in a striking bronze conservatory and top-notch treatments. Indeed, it’s recently been announced that the spa is the first and only in Ireland to receive five stars in the 2023 Forbes Travel Guide Star Awards. Heading outdoors? The 350-acre estate offers up every manner of activity from horse riding, fishing and falconry to golf and cycling (there are even dedicated ‘Activities Coordinators’ to help you choose). The nearby village of Cong is also worth a visit, so you can say that you’ve been to the setting of the 1952 film The Quiet Man.

Cong, County Mayo, F31 CA48
ashfordcastle.com

Liss Ard Estate

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Art lovers will want to make a beeline for Liss Ard in West Cork, which is home to James Turrell’s renowned Irish Sky Garden. The giant grass-lined crater, which measures 50 by 25 metres is quite something, with visitors encouraged to lie back in the crater’s centre to appreciate its enormity. Celestial creations aside, guests at Liss Ard will love this estate, its 163 acres incorporating beautifully manicured gardens and a huge private lake. There are kilometres of waymarked walking trails, as well as waterside yoga, sauna and workout cabins, or opt for one of the special experiences on offer including night kayaking and, on sunny days, picnicking in the grounds.

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At the heart of the estate are the Manor, Mews and Lake House, across which there are 26 rooms – all of them pared back in style (the soothing decor belies its rock n roll past when, in the 90s, Liss Ard was a hangout for the likes of Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Nick Cave and Robert Plant). There are two spacious sitting rooms, while the basement restaurant serves up a farm-to-fork menu, the likes of Wild Irish Shellfish Chowder and Celeriac with Laksa Sauce and Jerusalem Artichoke. 

Castletownshend Road, Russagh, Skibbereen, County Cork, P81 NP44
lissardestate.ie

Ballyfin

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If you prefer lavish to minimalist then Ballyfin, nestled in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, is without doubt one of the most romantic hotels in Ireland. The country house hotel is set in a magnificent Regency mansion, now immaculately restored. The reception rooms are a lesson in opulence, from the grandeur of the Saloon and the 80-foot library to the gold drawing room with its rich stucco work and French-inspired furnishings. 

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Though the estate is sprawling (over 600 acres in fact) and the interiors luxuriant, the hotel itself has only 20 bedrooms, as well as the one-bed Gardeners Cottage. As you’d expect, each is individually designed and exquisitely appointed – think huge four-posters, marble bathrooms and the softest of furnishings. Food comes from the walled garden, the woodlands and nearby farms (you must try and meet the bee man to hear all about Ballyfin’s own bees, which provide the hotel with honey, honeycomb and wax). There’s a spa and pool, of course, plus a host of outdoor activities including such country pursuits as horse riding, falconry, fishing and archery. 

Ballyfin, County Laois, R32 PN34
ballyfin.com

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel

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The Twelve Bens Mountain range in Connemara makes for a dramatic backdrop to Ballynahinch Castle. Set in a vast 700-acre estate, the castle hotel perches on the banks of a river with picturesque woodland stretching in every direction. Explore the dramatic landscape at your leisure or on one of the many guided activities, perhaps by taking a fly-fishing tutorial (the salmon fishing here is some of the best for miles) or cycling along the lakeshores. For the more intrepid, the hotel is the perfect base for taking on part of the Wild Atlantic Way – the hotel offers guided hiking tours through the Twelve Bens, Maumturk Mountains and other parts of Connemara. 

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Ballynahinch is perfect for resting weary feet at the end of the day. The rooms and suites are the definition of comfortable luxe with cloud-like beds, thick carpets and armchairs with a front row view of the stunning scenery. The standalone (self-catering) Lottery Lodge and Owenmore Cottage offer the ultimate privacy. But you’ll want to dine at the restaurant with its riverside views, charming staff and local menu (voted Best Hotel Restaurant in Ireland), while the Fisherman’s Pub and Ranji Room is for Killary prawns and a pint by the roaring fire.

ballynahinch-castle.com

Fairmont, Carton House

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The guestlist at Carton House is quite something: Queen Victoria, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, Peter Sellers and Marianne Faithfull… Once one of the finest Georgian estates in Ireland, it is now a Fairmont managed hotel. The mansion is as magnificent now as it was then – perhaps even more so. Interiors have been immaculately brought back to their original detail; dining on the seven-course tasting menu in the Morrison Room with its coffered ceiling, Corinthian columns and hand-painted wallpaper is a memory maker. So, too, afternoon tea in the dazzling gilt-and-stucco Gold Salon. Upstairs, the rooms in the main house are huge – the 151 rooms in the Garden Wing are less grand, but offer contemporary-comfort, nonetheless.

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Carton House has over 1,100 acres to its name. There’s not one but two world-class championship 18-hole golf courses. There’s also canoeing, walking, cycling trails… for added romance, take a boat trip along the Rye Water, spotting deer, otters and kingfishers as you go. Prefer to be pampered? The spa is set in an 18th century mill building, offering treatments by Aromatherapy Associates and Margaret Dabbs, while the wellness centre comes with two pools (one for children), a two-floor gym, sauna, steam and dedicated fitness class space.

Maynooth, County Kildare, W23 TD98
cartonhouse.com

Sheen Falls Lodge

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Sheen Falls Lodge deserves a place in the most romantic hotels in Ireland list. This hotel is rooted in nature, deep in the wilds of Kerry, with the Sheen River on one side and Kenmare Bay on the other. Once a 17th century fishing lodge, it has been transformed and now has 60 rooms, a dozen suites and five cottages – all of them decorated in a soothing palette to reflect the changing seasons. Throw open your windows to hear the babble of the nearby waterfalls or for views across the ever-changing seascape. Downstairs, huge sofas in the well-proportioned reception rooms invite guests to hunker down with a good book. The Falls restaurant serves up a menu comprising estate-smoked salmon, mountain lamb and organic vegetables – service throughout is warm and friendly.

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The great outdoors can be appreciated any which way. The Lodge has its own riding stables so you can navigate the dramatic countryside on horseback; or borrow a bike and explore the Sheen Valley. There’s fishing on the river, of course, plus everything from paddleboarding to personal training if you’re looking to up your BPM. The Easanna Spa (‘easanna’ is Irish for waterfall) has riverside views and treatments by Elemis and organic Irish brand Voya. 

Kenmare, County Kerry, V93 HR27
sheenfallslodge.ie

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