I always have an amazing time exploring Ireland, but add in a few relaxing luxury hotels and it’s a near perfect travel experience for me. Where I spend the night is an important aspect of travel for me. I truly do enjoy staying at and exploring new hotels and resorts and most times they help define my travel experience in ways I never expect. That was certainly the case on my most recent trip to Ireland where I explored Ireland’s Ancient East, where some of the country’s oldest and most remarkable sights can be found. It’s also where you can discover some equally amazing hotels and resorts, including these few where I had the great opportunity to spend some time. My project exploring Ireland’s Ancient East is part of an ongoing campaign with Tourism Ireland but, as always, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
For generations Carton House served as the country seat for the Duke of Leinster and the halls of the building have hosted a who’s who over the years from Queen Victoria to Grace Kelly. Today it’s been transformed into a very modern and luxurious hotel and from my own experience it still is very much a country retreat. Driving up in front of the manor, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from “Downton Abbey.” I almost expected a butler to rush out to greet me, and while that didn’t happen the incredible levels of hospitality weren’t too far off. From the moment I arrived everyone was there to make sure I had an experience I’d never forget, even helping take care of small details most other properties would ignore. My room was spacious and while decorated to remind visitors of another era, still enjoyed every modern convenience. From the food to the service and of course the incredible country location, Carton House is a place where I could certainly see myself spending a lot more time.
BrookLodge Hotel & Macreddin Village
The BrookLodge and attached restaurant are a relaxing country retreat where pastoral luxury reigns supreme. I love great properties like the BrookLodge, tucked away deep in the rolling hills and a place where people go to do little more than relax. Nowadays sustainable travel is a term that is bandied about with regular ease. It’s also many times horribly misused, becoming a generic travel term instead of a phrase with real meaning. That’s not the case at the BrookLodge, which was founded with an emphasis in green living. It’s fairly common to see some elements of a hotel or resort that are focused on the environment but at The BrookLodge, literally everything is done in a way that is green and sustainable. That environmental commitment carries on to its main dining facility and Ireland’s only entirely organic restaurant, the Strawberry Tree. Led by a chef with a fierce obsession with seasonality, they even have a full-time forager on staff who treks every day to find the freshest ingredients in the pastures and paths surrounding Macreddin. The results speak for themselves; after a leisurely dinner I was as impressed as I’ve ever been by a food experience. Each course was more surprising than the last and when combined with great service and hospitality, it was the perfect evening.
Suite at the D Hotel
The D Hotel enjoys a near perfect location in the town of Drogheda, a place that itself is ideally situated when exploring this region of Ireland. While the hotel generally ticks all the boxes, the real stars are its two rooftop suites. Massive rooms with plenty of windows and even an expansive patio all designed to provide unparalleled views of Drogheda. The hotel enjoys a fantastic location in town, allowing great opportunities to get out and walk around this ancient place. Getting up early one morning, it seemed as if I had Drogheda all to myself as I meandered around the colorful streets, stopping by the church and other key landmarks. A highlight though was visiting an old graveyard that offered fantastic views of the river and aqueduct, still used today to ferry the train from Dublin. Drogheda is a slow-paced kind of place and using it as a place to come back to at night was ideal as I spent my days driving around the region.
When it comes to picking a place to spend the night, Ireland seems to have it all. Hotels, grand manors, country retreats and even this, a castle, Barberstown Castle near Straffan. A castle of some sort has stood on this site since the 13th century, changing hands over the centuries mirroring the wars and conflicts that so often impacted Ireland. While Barberstown does have the beautiful outward appearance of an old castle, the attached buildings are also modern hotel facilities, making it a comfortable as well as unforgettable stay. Ireland’s Ancient East isn’t a single defined trail, instead it’s a region that includes important historic sites as well as cultural – ancient abbeys and burial mounds to restaurants and even hotels. What they all have in common is their link to Irish history, the counties and regions that they call home and their commitment to preserving everything that makes the country so great.