Co. Clare, Ireland
Dromoland Castle Resort
What it is
A literal castle (since circa 1014) that’s now one of the most luxurious hotels in Ireland, with a superb spa and activities galore on its 450 verdant acres.
What it isn't
Unkempt. Sure, you can stroll through untouched woodlands, but the manicured 18th-century gardens here were planned by Andre Le Notre, the mastermind behind the green spaces of Versailles.
What we think
If you ever wanted to escape to your own Downton Abbey, Dromoland Castle is here to answer the call. Guest rooms are just as cinematic as the Countess of Grantham’s, even if you opt for a just-renovated “starter” Queen Anne room—stocked as they are with custom wool carpets, ornate draperies, and exquisite amenities (Nespresso machines, Asprey toiletries, and sumptuous Dromoland Castle robes and slippers ideal for raiding the mini bar). You won’t need your own lady’s maid with the hotel’s topnotch service, including 24-hour in-room dining and turndown each night. But if you want to live like a true queen, consider the Brian Boru Suite, which is adorned a la Buckingham Palace with a canopied four post bed and glittering chandeliers, all overlooking Dromoland Lough and the rolling kelly-green hills.
You're here because
You loathe planning vacations, and the hotel has seemingly limitless options right on the premises, from golfing an 18-hole championship course to clay pigeon shooting. Don’t miss the Falconry program to ogle their resident owls, hawks, and, yes, falcons; you’ll even be able to let them perch on your leather gloved forearm.
There’s something about having afternoon tea in an actual castle that makes the custom even more exquisite than usual. You settle into your velvet armchair, take another sip of your Louis Roederer Champagne, and nab yet another warm scone with clotted cream. Even the Countess of Grantham didn’t have it this good.
Restaurants & Bars
Earl of Thomond Restaurant - Fine dining in Clare
Fig Tree Restaurant - Informal, all-day dining
Shannigans Gastro Bar - An alternative venue for casual dining
In County Clare, a two and a half hour drive from Dublin. While you’re here, stop by living history Craggaunowen to eyeball the recreated stone walled, thatched-roofed homes of Bronze Age Celts.