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My Top Picks - Ireland's 5* Luxury Hotels and Resorts

When it comes to exploring the emerald beauty of Ireland, immersing yourself in luxury is an experience you shouldn't miss. From charming castles and manor houses to contemporary city hotels and spa retreats, this little country on the edge of Europe boasts a magnificent array of opulent accommodations that will leave you simply spellbound. If you’re like me, you have neither the time nor the patience to sit at scroll though pages and pages of trip adviser reviews. And why should we? Life is way to short for that. So I’ve done the hard work for you and below is my top picks for luxury accommodation on our little island. Full Disclosure: All the places I mention below are places I have stayed at for at least one night, and paid for with my own cold hard cash. No sponsored advertising here - although if Ashford wants to book me to write a sensationalist piece and pay me by way of a few nights in a Junior Stateroom with a 45 minute Hammam Experience, I’m perfectly ok with that! Slide in my DM’s Ashford! Style in the City - The Marker Hotel, Dublin Located in the trendy Grand Canal Dock neighbourhood of Dublin, the hotel is a stones throw from popular attractions like Bord Gais Energy Theatre and the 3Arena with lively pubs and fantastic dining options all on your doorstep. The wonderful staff and concierge are also more than happy to assist with recommendations and arrangements for exploring the city. I’ve stayed in the marker hotels on the wstayed in The Marker Hotel no less than 9 times over the past decade and it has become my Eve of Christmas Eve treat. Its become a ritual. I leave my car with the doorman who welcomes me in a uniquely Dublin accent. My room looks out across the beautiful Grand Canal Dock and the angular facade of the Bord Gais energy Theatre, masterfully designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. The Spa is dark and quiet and feels like a hidden oasis in a city of 1.5 million people. Executive Chef Garrett Mullins will take you on a culinary journey with his international menu of classic dishes all with a uniquely irish twist, with the hightligh of the expansive Manu being the Beef & Bordeaux - a Chateaubriand for two served with a bottle of Thomas Barton Bordeaux. If food from the sea is more your thing then try the Flaggy Shore Oysters with Lime & Coriander. You might even induce in a half pint of Guinness to wash it down. Finish your evening with a trip to the rooftop cocktail bar and sip on a Marker Dream - Bombay Gin, Chambord, St Germain, Grapes, Lime Juice & Cranberry Juice, while taking in the Dublin skyline as the sun sets behind the Dublin Mountains. My one night stay at The Marker, including Bed & Breakfast, Dinner & Drinks in the Brasserie and Spa Treatments was €750. The Marker Hotel, now rebranded to become part of the Anatara Collection, offers a blend of luxury, comfort, and excellent service. Whether you're visiting Dublin for business or pleasure, this hotel is sure to leave a lasting impression.

The entrance of The Marker Hotel with symmetrical and geometrical stark white windows above.

The Marker Hotel, Dublin The Marker Spa Old Meets New - Adare Manor, Limerick

Hannah stands in the foreground on perfectly manicured green grass with the Adare Manor looming large in the background.

Situated in Co. Limerick, this palatial estate welcomes you with its breathtaking architecture and impeccable landscapes. The luxurious rooms and suites exude sophistication, boasting opulent furnishings and modern amenities. Indulge in world-class dining experiences, rejuvenate at the state-of-the-art spa, or try your hand at the championship golf course. Adare Manor is a harmonious blend of old-world charm and contemporary luxury. I stayed in Adare Manor in July of 2021, at the tail end of the Covid-19 restrictions. Remember facemasks? Shudder. Pulling up to the gate lodge at Adare Manor where you’re met by a smartly dressed door man feels a bit like you’re entering a movie set. But there’s nothing fake about Adare. From the moment you pass through the gates and meander your way along the long and winding track road, your begin to relax, the body eases and you feel at home. It's fancy but not pretentious. Once the valet has taken your car, there’s no need to want it back, Adare has everything you could possible need onsite. You want to play golf, maybe some tennis? No problem. You want to relax with champagne by a pool? No problem. You want to play with falcons? No problem. You want to eat strawberries, in your pants, on the front lawn? I didn’t ask but it’s probably no problem. Rooms are palatial and all have a view of something special. With heavy drapes and four poster beds you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It's a bit like your granny’s house circa 1992 but without the dusty potpourri and barbie toilet roll covers. The Spa has an extensive treatment brochure and intimate plunge pool with a glass ceiling which shows the stone battlements rising high into the sky. The Padel Club, which is nestled within the lush woodlands of the estate won the RIAI Architecture Award for 2021 in the Wellbeing category, and it's easy to see why. It boasts a 17m swimming pool with sauna and steam room as well as a full gym, padel courts (similar to tennis) and a sports simulation room for golf lessons or virtual hockey. No more will the rain ruin our plans, not in Adare Manor at least. Take a stroll around the grounds - or better yet take a Pashley Bicycle from outside the door and cycle to your hearts content - watch out for the robotic lawnmowers who lazily weave back and forth, dutifully tending to the manicured lawns and gardens. Head Chef Michael Tweedie’s seasonal menu has distilled the very essence of Ireland’s best artisan ingredients into an amazing culinary experience across various levels of formality. Afternoon tea feels more like a ritual than a lunch break. I can still taste the mini brioche sandwich with quals egg mayonnaise - a thing of beauty! And please, have the Champagne with your afternoon tea. You’re worth it. Our two night stay, (and I really think you need at least two nights to really soak up all Adare Manor has to offer) inclusive of Bed & Breakfast, Dinner on both nights, Afternoon Tea with Champagne(!), Spa Access and Treatments was €2400 - although I suspect it will cost significantly more now with the announcement that Adare Manor will host the 2027 Ryder Cup. A jewel in the crown of Co. Limerick. Adare Manor, Co. Limerick Adare Manor Spa Grandeur & Heritage - Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo Nestled amidst the enchanting landscapes of County Mayo, Ashford Castle stands as an embodiment of grandeur and heritage. This magnificent 13th-century castle, set on the shores of Lough Corrib, offers an unrivaled experience. As you step through its doors, you're transported to a bygone era of elegance. Immerse yourself in the plush interiors adorned with antique furnishings, enjoy gourmet dining at the award-winning restaurants, and partake in outdoor activities like falconry and horseback riding. Ashford Castle is a dreamlike haven where history comes alive. I spent two nights at the glorious Ashfold Castle in November of 2022. They do luxury five-star service with such warmth, which is uniquely Irish and without pomp or pretence. The fine-tuned balance of the world famous Cead Mile Failte coupled with high-end hospitality makes for a wonderful experience. From the moment you pass beneath the arched stone gates, wide enough for just one car, you know you're in for a real treat. The drive up to the castle is majestic with rolling green as far as the eye can see. That is until you round a bend and the breathtaking beauty of the 800 year old castle comes into view. The castle is quite literally surrounded by a moat! The rooms are exquisitely decorated, blending traditional charm with modern comforts. The attention to detail is evident in every corner, from the ornate furnishings to the luxurious bedding. The views of the sprawling grounds and Lough Corrib from the rooms are simply unmatched. The Spa sticks out like a shining beacon at the rear of the castle, under a gleaming Georgian canopy, bathed in natural light. It might be the most beautiful pool I've ever seen. Executive Chef Liam Finnegan gives fine expression to the dishes offered in the four main dining rooms and special mention to Paula Stakelum, the legendary Director of Chocolate and Patisserie. Is that the best job in the world? Probably. Her chocolates are incredible and make an excellent gift. Whether it's falconry, whiskey tasting, horseback riding, clay pigeon shooting or fishing that tickles your fancy, Ashford has you covered. My suggestion is to avail of the boat trip around the lake and enjoy a chilled glass of champagne on the water. Bliss. Finish with a stroll around the expansive resort and keep and eye out for Cronan and Garvan, the two Irish Wolf Hounds that come and go as they please. Two big, hairy, gentle giants. My two night stay in Ashford Castle, inclusive of Bed & Breakfast, dinner and drinks on both evenings, , Afternoon tea and Spa treatments was €2850. Overall, my stay at Ashford Castle was an extraordinary experience. It is a place where history, luxury, and natural beauty seamlessly blend together. The stunning castle and grounds, the outstanding dining options, and the commitment to sustainability all contribute to making Ashford Castle a truly remarkable destination. Whether you're seeking a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a unique experience in Ireland, Ashford Castle is a destination that will exceed your expectations in every way.

Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo Ashford Castle Spa Conclusion In Ireland, luxury accommodation is not just about lavishness but also about the seamless blend of opulence and warm Irish hospitality. We are hospitable people. These top five luxury hotels and resorts showcase the very best Ireland has to offer. Whether you choose the timeless elegance of Ashford Castle or the contemporary charm of The Marker, each promises a memorable experience. So, prepare to be pampered and enchanted as you embark on your journey around our wonderful island.



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