If you are looking to indulge your family, a stay at Dromoland Castle Hotel and Country Estate in County Clare, Ireland is the way to do it. Here you can fish, cycle, try your hand at archery, handle hawks, go on nature walks, search for fairy houses and spend time at the spa — all the while staying at a 5-star luxury castle.
Built in 1543, the castle is one of the most famous baronial castles in Ireland. In 1962, it underwent major renovations to transform it into a wonderful vacation indulgence for families looking to take in a little bit of history and a lot of elegance. Dromoland welcomes families of all ages and offers special programs for children during the holidays.
From the minute you enter the grounds of the Dromoland Estate, you know that this is no ordinary place. With more than 410 acres of mature woodland and lakes, the estate itself is something to marvel over. The castle, rich in history, is stunning and grand; a short walk around the interior is all it takes to feel the history permeating through its walls. It tells a story of one of the few native Gaelic families directly descended from an Irish High King in the 11th century. The public rooms on the main floor, full of cozy fireplaces, inviting armchairs, stately portraits and suits of armor, look very much the same now as they did in 1543.
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At Dromoland, guests want for nothing. The staff is incredibly attentive and accommodating. When you add to that the number of wonderful activities onsite, the property is the perfect triple threat of history, luxury and fun.
The castle has 98 rooms, including five suites. The room style best suited for families is the Family Deluxe, which offers two queen-size beds and an additional rollaway bed upon request. We stayed in a Deluxe Room with two double beds and a rollaway; it was incredibly spacious and included a large sitting area, a separate room for luggage and a large, luxurious bathroom.
Deluxe Rooms are located throughout the castle and overlook Dromoland Gardens and the lake. They are grand and have a classical feel, with a combination of furniture styles ranging from 19th-century Empire to Louis XV.
Guests will melt into the lush linens and pamper themselves with the Asprey London Purple Water bath amenities, as well as the signature Dromoland soft slippers and bathrobes. To cater to children, the hotel provides junior bathrobes, children’s TV channels and movies on request, and milk and cookies at turndown.
Dromoland offers a number of options at mealtime. The finest of these is the Earl of Thomond Restaurant, an award-winning venue of international renown. Elaborately decorated, it provides an elegant dining experience featuring locally sourced ingredients and innovative cuisine. Our family dined at the more casual Fig Tree, a bistro-style restaurant located in the Golf and Country Club.
More suitable for families with young children, the Fig Tree offers everything from chargrilled dry-aged Irish beef to fish and chips and double-decker sandwiches. Afternoon tea is a longstanding tradition at Dromoland Castle; guests can choose from an array of hot teas with a delicious selection of freshly baked pastries and breads. The castle also offers a special tea for children in the late afternoon.
Breakfast at the hotel is sublime. Guests choose from an elaborate buffet of baked goods, meats and cheeses, cereals and fruit, and may order hot dishes such as French toast, pancakes, omelets, eggs and more from the kitchen. Breakfast is included in the room rate and served in the Earl of Thomond Restaurant.
The hotel also offers 24-hour room service and will prepare a picnic lunch for guests wanting to spend a day exploring on the estate’s extensive grounds.
Dromoland boasts a beautifully manicured 18-hole golf course as well as a spa, a health and fitness club with indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, two all-weather tennis courts and a walled garden dating from 1812. The garden is based on the designs of Andre Le Notre, who also planned the gardens at Versailles — evident from its stunning beauty. The estate’s grounds are perfect for taking a walk or bike ride (you can borrow a mountain bike free of charge). Engage in archery and fishing or take a rowboat out on the lake.
Younger children might enjoy riding go-karts, taking the fairy walk (and posting a letter to the fairies), feeding the ducks or taking a tour of the estate via pony and trap ride with their parents. There’s also an indoor games room for children. While Dromoland welcomes children of all ages, many of the activities are best suited for older children. Some activities are free of charge (like biking and go-karts); others are on the pricey side.
We were fortunate enough to visit during the Easter holidays. The hotel offered an Easter program for children that included activities such as nature walks, storytelling, swimming, archery for “young princes,” afternoon tea for “young princesses,” falconry demonstrations, evening movies with popcorn, and of course an Easter egg hunt and a visit from the Easter Bunny. Dromoland is a special place every day of the year, but the hotel goes above and beyond to create a very memorable experience for the whole family at holiday time.
Dromoland Castle is located in County Clare, at the heart of Ireland’s west coast and on the Wild Atlantic Way. Less than a one-hour drive from the castle, guests can visit the glaciated karst landscape of the UNESCO-designated Burren National Park and the spectacular, iconic Cliffs of Moher. The nearby historic towns of Ennis, Kilrush, Killaloe, Bunratty and Ennistymon offer year-round activities and festivals steeped in Irish tradition.
Less than two hours south of Dromoland, guests can experience the beautiful landscapes and seaside towns along the world-renowned Ring of Kerry, as well as the inviting town of Killarney and Killarney National Park. The castle and estate are located just 7 miles from Shannon International Airport.
Editor’s Note: Loren was provided a media rate in order to review Dromoland Castle for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Loren Braunohler.
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