What traveler doesn’t dream of visiting Ireland and casting their eyes upon this famous land? Even those who have been before often list it as a place they long to return to. And the magic of the Emerald Isle casts its spell just as easily on kids as it does adults. How could it not, with its fairytale castles, wide-open spaces, friendly locals and countless attractions to explore?
If ever there were a destination to get off your Pinterest board and make a reality, this is it. Ireland has so much to offer families, and this collection of our favorite properties around the country only enhance a vacation in one of the most scenic places on earth.
If your trip to Ireland starts in Dublin, there’s no better place to explore this fascinating city and recover from jet lag than The Westbury. Families are steps away from all of Dublin’s wonderful attractions, and the well designed suites are perfect for a good night’s rest. Many have private terraces overlooking Dublin’s bustling streets. Dining is a highlight here as well.
There are very few properties around the world right now with more buzz than Ashford Castle. Housed in a 13th-century castle on 350 acres of gorgeous Irish parkland, Ashford Castle recently underwent an enormous renovation. With a falconry school, a spa, the beautiful lake, fishing, tennis, watersports and so much more, families will have no trouble keeping themselves busy here. It’s no wonder Ashford Castle is consistently ranked as one of the best hotels not just in Ireland, but in the world.
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Driving the Ring of Kerry is on every Ireland traveler’s bucket list. Killarney is the perfect base to immerse yourself in this most scenic area of the country, with Killarney National Park at your doorstep. Killarney Park Hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, is perfectly situated in the town center. Families can spread out in spacious suites, cuddle up around the log fires after chilly days hiking in the park, or indulge in a spa treatment while the kids swim in the indoor pool.
Still family owned, Hayfield Manor is a luxury property that offers guests a wonderful location, within walking distance to many of Cork’s highlights. Yet it has the feel of a country estate with its gorgeous grounds and historic building. This hotel loves young guests, but still offers all the finer things like exceptional dining choices and a premier spa.
I’d never encourage anyone to delay a trip to Ireland, but the fact that my favorite hotel in the country is closed in 2016 is reason enough to consider waiting until 2017, when Adare Manor reopens after a year-long renovation. This impressive property will stun every member of the family from the moment you drive up. In terms of luxury, Adare delivers it in spades, from vaulted ceilings to marble fireplaces in every room (even the bathrooms). But its 5-star offerings don’t come with a stuffy atmosphere. Kids are very much welcome, and the sounds of their giggles as they kick a ball around the enormous gardens, or throw rocks into the river flowing by, or jump into the indoor pool, will be what you remember most about a stay here.
It’s rare for families to come to Ireland and not experience the beauty of southwest Ireland. A perfect home base is Sheen Falls Lodge. While it is well located for exploration, it is also situated on an incredibly picturesque 300 acres, meaning you can spend a couple of days out of the car and just enjoying its setting. A stay in one of the property’s thatched roof cottages is popular with families, as are the many on-site activities like horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, pre-arranged picnics, falconry, etc.
County Galway is incredibly special because it is Ireland at its most raw and least discovered. And if the goal of a trip to Ireland is to take in its spectacular natural scenery, the Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate is the place to do it. Its lakeside location is perfect for active families, and its historic building offers all the charm that families flock to Ireland to experience. A highlight here is dining aboard one of two Orient Express train carriages in the Pullman Restaurant, one of Ireland’s most unique culinary experiences.
Editor’s Note: Photos by the hotels mentioned above. Cary Walker Collett contributed to this article.
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