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 Premier Suites Plus Leeson Street. This apartment-style hotel is truly just steps away from all the major attractions (including St. Stephen’s Green, which is directly across the street), so sightseeing will be a breeze. And the suite-style rooms mean kids and adults each have their own space for sleeping and relaxing. The reasonable price point at this property will give families plenty of euros to spend shopping for souvenirs on nearby Grafton Street.
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.
Foodie families should look no further than Ballymaloe House, a country manor east of Cork. With an award-winning restaurant that defines local (as in, all the ingredients for your meal are sourced from the walled garden right outside the door and the fishing boats that came in that morning), families can feast on Irish food at its best and freshest. Kids will love the outdoor play equipment, the croquet lawn, the heated outdoor pool, feeding the pigs and collecting eggs from the hens. Accommodations range from simple and elegant rooms to self-catering farm cottages and cabins.
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.
Ireland is famous for its friendly people and strong family lineage. A great example of that is found at Glendine Country House, which has been in the same family for over 60 years. The proprietors, the Crosbys, have been operating the house for years and take great pleasure in welcoming guests. Here you’ll find reasonably priced rooms, suites and a self-catering cottage, along with magical, secluded gardens perfect for kids to explore. The inn also make a great base for visiting the Waterford crystal factory and shops, as it is only a few miles away.
The Connemara region in the northern part of 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 waterfront, Renvyle House in Connemara is the place to do it, with its 150 acres of seafront property. This is a fabulous option for active families; its wide range of offerings includes watersports, tennis, golf, swimming and more. Room options are equally accommodating for all needs, including standard rooms, suites, apartments and self-catering cottages.
Editor’s Note: Photos by the hotels mentioned above.
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