Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community – and a special welcome if you’re a new member and receiving this newsletter for the first time!
This week, I’m excited to highlight an absolutely incredible travel experience! When I was in Ireland in November, I stayed in two majestic castles. These stays far exceeded my expectations, and I highly recommend that you include a castle stay in your Ireland itinerary. It’s a bucket list check that you don’t want to skip. Luckily, I can access some valuable perks for clients who opt to stay in these and other castles in Ireland.
If you’d like to learn about what it’s like to stay in a castle in Ireland, read on for the scoop…
Note – if you missed the November newsletter about my time in Dublin, you can read it here: https://hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/my-time-in-dublin-ireland/
Dromoland Castle’s star-studded history
Dromoland Castle is one of Ireland’s finest castle hotels. It’s one of the few castle hotels that can trace its ownership back through history to Gaelic Irish families of royal heritage and has been welcoming guests since the 16th century. More recent “royal” guests include Cary Grant, Nelson Mandela, Johnny Cash, Muhammad Ali, and US Presidents Clinton and Bush Sr.
Located in County Clare, Dromoland is just 8 miles from Shannon Airport, making it a perfect place from which to explore the region. The castle is convenient to the rugged landscape of the Burren, majestic Cliffs of Mohr, and the vibrant cities of Limerick and Galway.
They say first impressions count, and my approach to Dromoland was impressive. Driving up to the front of the castle was special with smartly attired staff members waiting for our arrival with glasses of champagne on silver platters. After a few sips, we had a tour of the castle with a historian and then settled into our spacious and elegantly decorated room. We were ready for the adventure to come!
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Wondering how we navigated the entry/exit protocols for international travel and Ireland’s protocols? Reply to this email, and I’ll talk you through it.
Doing and Dining at Dromoland
Year-round, you can be as active as you like at Dromoland! The 450-acre estate offers a long list of activities with the castle and glistening lake as a backdrop. World-class golf, tennis, fishing, falconry, shooting, boating, cycling, spa-time, are just some of the country pursuits.
Have Irish ancestry? I can arrange an experience with a local genealogist that will enhance your experience ten-fold.
After a day of Irish adventure, you’ll need to refuel. We enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails thanks to the expert mixologist in the Cocktail Bar that was once the Lord of the castle’s library. For dinner, we dined on extremely fresh fare; I opted for the mouth-watering halibut with the freshest tasting small potatoes and finely grated carrots that I’ve ever had.
Dromoland offers some valuable perks for Hidden Gem Travel’s clients. You’ll receive a room upgrade upon arrival (subject to availability), breakfast for two daily, complimentary round-trip airport transfers from Shannon International Airport as well as status as a VIP guest!
Ashford Castle – what an entrance!
Not to be outdone by Dromoland, our entrance at Ashford castle was truly epic. We were greeted by gorgeous horses, adorable hounds, and a melodious bagpiper as we drove onto the property, over the bridge, under huge stone gates, and to the front entrance! It was a bucket list check that I didn’t know I had on my list.
Muti-award winning and known as the oldest castle in Ireland, Ashford is a 13th century – over 800 years old – castle located 45 minutes from Galway City. Ashford Castle opened as a luxury hotel in 1939 after a rich history as the estate of Lord Ardilaun and the renowned Guinness family. It’s now owned by the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, valued partners of Hidden Gem Travel.
While there (which wasn’t long enough), I enjoyed fine Irish cuisine, watched hawks soar on a forest walk at Ireland’s first school of falconry, and restored myself at the state-of-the-art spa. We watched a short movie about the history of renovating Ashford in the cinema while sipping champagne and munching on freshly popped popcorn. Two more of my favorite memories while inside the castle – exploring the servant tunnels and underground wine cellar as well as listening and dancing to authentic, live Irish music after dinner.
Not to be forgotten is that Ashford Castle is Ireland’s only Forbes Five Star Hotel. The best news – Hidden Gem Travel clients get the perks here too.
Falconry, Fishing, Golf & Gardens
The Ashford Estate offers an extensive range of activities including Orvis fly fishing to Ireland’s first school of falconry. We played golf, walked the stunning gardens, met Irish Wolfhounds, and strolled with hawks on a Hawk Walk.
The Hawk Walk gave me the unique opportunity to fly a Harris Hawk under the careful eye of a highly trained instructor. We walked along the serene woodland pathways on the castle grounds while two hawks named Beckett and Sonora soared over our heads and onto our gloved fists. We learned all about these magnificent creatures and interacted with them in an unforgettable way. It was a cool morning, so when we finished, we enjoyed real hot chocolate with Baileys served from an antique Range Rover.
Adare Manor for golf and more!
While I didn’t have time to stay at Adare Manor on this trip, it’s on my list for when I return to Ireland. Adare will be hosting the 2027 Ryder Cup Tournament (golf) and has been the site of many prestigious tournaments.
This stately, historic manor is only 30 minutes from Shannon Airport in County Limerick so conveniently located. Just outside the gates is the charming village of Adare with traditional thatched cottages, antique shops, and pubs.
In addition to the golf course, I’ll be interested to check out its new wellness facility, the Padel Club. Two indoor paddle courts compliment the host of fitness and wellness classes and a gorgeous spa. A perfect vacation combination of being active and relaxing!
Inspired? If you’re thinking about a bucket list trip to Ireland, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,