Best castle stays in Ireland: Where to live like royalty

CNN  — 

Ever harbored a desire to live like royalty and bed down in a castle for the night?

Well, Ireland is a great place to do just that. From tiny turreted hideaways to magnificent palace hotels, there are Irish castles to suit every whim and every travel budget. Here are 11 of our favorite places to stay:

Ballynahinch Castle, Galway

From the cozy log fireplaces to the four-poster beds, Ballynahinch ticks every box when it comes to a castle stay.

Just off the lobby, you’ll find a room filled with waxed jackets and Wellington boots for guests to borrow, so you can look the part as you set out to explore their 700-acre estate.

Take a little stroll along the wide, flat Owenmore River and you’ll be met with an unbeatable view; on a calm day, the reflection of the castle and mountains in the mirror-like water is simply stunning.

Ballynahinch Castle, Recess, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, H91 F4A7; + 353 95 31006

Ashford Castle, Mayo

Cronan and Garvan are the canine hosts at Ashford Castle.

Perhaps one of the grandest hotels in Ireland, a visit to Ashford Castle is on many a traveler’s wish list.

Even the entrance is swish – when you arrive, you’re greeted by gate attendants in top hats, and the subsequent drive up to the castle doors is spectacular.

Inside, the rooms are beautifully luxurious, and the drawing rooms are just made for an afternoon of lounging with the papers and a cup of tea.

But the real stars of the show are the estate’s two giant Irish wolfhounds, Cronan and Garvan, whom you can join on their walk every morning at 8.30 a.m.

Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo, Ireland, F31 CA48; +353 94 954 6003

From $246 per night
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Adare Manor, Limerick

OK, OK… Technically, Adare Manor isn’t a castle.

But with its stone towers, ornate chimneys and limestone gargoyles, it sure does a good impression of one.

Fresh out of a huge restoration project, Adare Manor is beyond luxurious – think roll top baths under grand, arched windows, intricately carved vaulted ceilings and perfectly manicured topiary in the gardens. The top-notch estate activities include clay pigeon shooting, archery and a world-class golf course that will host the 2026 Ryder Cup.

Adare Manor, Adare, County Limerick, Ireland, V94 W8WR; +353 61 605 200

Crom Castle, Fermanagh

Crom Castle is at the heart of a 2,000-acre demesne.

While most of Ireland’s castles operate largely as hotels, Crom remains the home of the Earl and Countess of Erne, who take great pride in their striking country pile on the shores of Upper Lough Erne.

You can get a taste of the high life by renting out the entire West Wing, which sleeps up to 13 people. It comes with its own entrance, as well as access to the private gardens not usually open to the public. Keep an eye out for the beautiful wild deer that graze on the lakeshore.

Crom Castle, Newtownbutler, near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT92 8AP; +44 28 6773 8004

Kilronan Castle, Roscommon

Set among the rolling hills of the west, Kilronan Castle is like something out of a fairytale.

With suits of armor in the hallways and antique furniture in the bedrooms, this is the place to live out all of your medieval fantasies.

The food in the Douglas Hyde Restaurant is exceptional – think seared local duck and a killer pillow-soft banoffee soufflé.

Kilronan Castle, Castletenison Demesne, Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon, Ireland, F52 R867; +353 71 961 8000

From $170 per night
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Castle Leslie, Monaghan

Falconry is one of the options at Castle Leslie.

One of the few castles in Ireland still in the hands of its founding family, Castle Leslie is deliciously quirky. The bedrooms have a unique design and vary from quaintly traditional to downright unhinged – one bathroom has a disco ball and party lights, another has a throne toilet, and one room features an en suite inside a dollhouse.

There’s a cozy library, an airy conservatory for afternoon tea, and the basement bar is impossibly sultry, with deep Chesterfield couches and alcove hideaways where you can snuggle up with a G&T.

Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan, Ireland; +353 47 88100

Barbican, Antrim

On the grounds of Glenarm Castle, just over a pretty stone bridge, this gatekeeper’s lodge is a paradise for misanthropes.

Run by the Irish Landmark Trust, which turns historic buildings into self-catering accommodation, this tiny medieval castle sleeps only two and is a Gothic dream.

Here you can enjoy your own stone turret staircase, wood-burning stove and a little rooftop terrace where you can gaze out to sea.

Barbican at Glenarm Castle, Castle St, Glenarm, Ballymena, County Antrim, BT44 0AT, Northern Ireland; +353 1 670 4733

Ballygally Castle Hotel, Antrim

Lady Shaw is your spectral hostess at Ballygally.

Set right on the scenic Causeway Coast route, Ballygally is part 17th-century castle, part modern extension, so make sure you book a tower room if you want the full castle experience.

Regardless of where you sleep, you should poke your head into the Ghost Room, rumored to be haunted by Lady Isabella Shaw, wife of the castle’s first owner, who has said to have plunged to her death from this very tower.

Ballygally Castle Hotel, Coast Road, Ballygalley, Larne, Country Antrim, BT40 2QZ, Northern Ireland; +44 28 2858 1066

From $131 per night
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Lough Eske Castle, Donegal

In the ruggedly beautiful county of Donegal, among mountains and lakes, you’ll find Lough Eske Castle.

The rooms in the original 18th-century wing have a classically elegant aesthetic, and one suite even has its own winding staircase. You’ll find the spa in the old Victorian Glass House, with an extensive thermal suite and heated pool.

Lough Eske Castle, Lough Eske, County Donegal, F94 HX59, Ireland; +353 74 972 5100

From $320 per night
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Dromoland Castle, Clare

Donough O'Brien, son of High King Brian Boru, held Dromoland as a defensive stronghold in the 11th century.

With a lineage that dates back to one of the last High Kings of Ireland, there’s no doubting the regal heritage of Dromoland Castle.

You can roam the 450-acre estate by pony and trap, take a boat out on the lake or play a round on the championship golf course. The bedrooms are all suitably plush, with fabric wallpaper and views over the gardens and lake.

Dromoland Castle, Dromoland, Newmarket on Fergus, County Clare, V95 ATD3, Ireland; +353 61 368 144

Glin Castle, Limerick

Glin Castle has been home to a captivating series of characters for centuries, including one knight who would ride his horse up the staircase to bed.

Nowadays, it’s probably best known as the ancestral home of Catherine FitzGerald and her actor husband Dominic West (aka McNulty in “The Wire”).

You can rent the castle in its entirety, but the owners have just run their first hotel-style pop up, with rooms available to book individually. Inside, the castle is sumptuous yet full of character, the walls lined with family portraits and homely touches around every corner.

Glin Castle, Glin Demesne, Co. Limerick, V94 VF68, Ireland; +353 68 34035