Think back to your childhood. At some point, you undoubtedly pretended to be a princess, knight, king, queen, jester, or (in my case), royal hound. So many of our childhood stories revolve around the world of castles and dragons – and it’s fun to imagine ourselves right in the thick of it.
Then… we grow up, realize that only happens to Kate Middleton and Elton John, and abandon our youthful dreams.
Except for the lucky few who get to visit Dromoland Castle.
Located just outside of Shannon, Ireland, this beautiful castle has been converted into a luxury hotel.
When I found out I would be visiting Ireland, I immediately thought of two things: sheep and castles. Oh, and Colin Farrell. And Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
I figured I would be seeing sheep by the flockful… but castles? I needed to make that happen.
I researched and researched as only a travel addict can. There were a LOT of Irish castles to choose from. I felt a bit like Goldilocks: too expensive, too far away, too cheesy, not enough history, etc.
That is, until I found Dromoland Castle. It seemed like the absolute perfect location for a splurge.
Beautiful grounds, interesting history, abundant activities, and luxurious rooms.
If you’re considering a castle stay in Ireland, or just want to enjoy some photos of this gorgeous accommodation option, scroll on.
My Review of Dromoland Castle
The Castle & Grounds
Pulling into the castle is an exciting experience. You head up this long and winding driveway past the golf course, and then, all of a sudden, you see it.
It’s a real castle – and you get to spend the night in it! That’s a pretty sweet realization.
The castle itself is magnificent. There’s really no other word for it. I was afraid that the history would be obscured by the hotel, but they’ve done a wonderful job of integrating the old castle-y stuff with all the facets of a modern luxury hotel.
I loved learning about the history of the castle, wandering around the halls, admiring the old paintings, and pretending to be a princess on the grand stairway.
The grounds, set on a beautiful lake, are exquisitely kept, and they make a perfect backdrop for your luxurious stay.
The rooms are lovely, and spotless. The decorations are fun and antique-y. Definite perks: fluffy bathrobes, divine shower, view of the lake, and stickers on the toilet paper.
My favorite part, however, was the welcome box of chocolates we received. That really made us feel like we were in a high-class place.
Another fun part of the room was the privacy switch. By flipping it, you’d illuminate a little light in the hall that said “Privacy.” Fancy! Doorknob hangers are soooo 1600.
It was a beautiful little room, topped off by the fact that it’s in a real historical Irish castle.
There’s an abundance of activities at Dromoland. That’s why it’s probably worth it to spend two nights; you’ll want time to partake in all the fun stuff they offer.
We participated in clay pigeon shooting, horseback riding, falconry, and golf. It was a busy few days! My favorite was definitely falconry; we got to take a little walk with a hawk, enticing him to land on our gloves just like in the movies.
Golf was also a blast, and I’m sure that if we were remotely golf-savvy, it would’ve been an even more incredible experience. Personally, I just enjoyed driving around on the cart and taking photographs. (Lesson learned: Jeans are NOT acceptable golfing attire!)
Even better, there are several free activities like rowboating on the lake or playing on the tennis courts. In a neighboring building, there’s access to a pool, hot tub, and gym.
Since the activities were pricey, I think I would skip them next time. The castle, rooms, and free offerings are so wonderful that you don’t need to spend any money on activities… except maybe the spa. (Or golf, if you’re a golfer!)
This was one of the highlights of my stay. If you’re staying at the hotel, you’re able to walk down to the spa in your robe, which I just thought was so fun. You can then relax in a gorgeous Jacuzzi before it’s time for your treatment.
I received a facial there that was the most relaxing of my life. Literally: I fell asleep during it. You even get a FRUIT PLATE after the treatment. Talk about making you feel special! They were awarded “Best Facial” for Ireland for 2013, and they deserve it. (Sidenote: Where does one apply to become a facial-tester?)
Food & Drink
Because we were so enjoying not being on the road and just relaxing at the castle, we ate at the castle quite a bit – but the food wasn’t anything to write home about. Though it was super convenient, it was expensive for what it was. Note that we didn’t eat at the fancy restaurant, just at the more casual options.
If you’re looking to save money, I’d recommend taking the short drive into the neighboring town of Newmarket on Fergus (or a little further, to the city of Shannon) to enjoy a great meal.
The drinks were also quite expensive, so bring a few bottles of wine with you to enjoy in your room. (You won’t want to leave it anyways.)
Everyone who worked at Dromoland was truly lovely. They went out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable. I enjoyed seeing and interacting with them each day, and they made our stay so much more special.
Staying in a castle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and Dromoland Castle is the perfect choice in Ireland.
In addition to its beauty, history, and stellar service, its proximity to Shannon makes it extremely accessible for those with only a short time in Ireland. If I could do it over, I’d fly into Dublin and out of Shannon, finishing my trip with two nights at Dromoland.
I wouldn’t recommend a stay here for those on a budget, as you wouldn’t want to feel like you couldn’t enjoy all that the castle has to offer once you’re there.
If you can afford the splurge, however, Dromoland Castle is a wonderful place to live out your childhood fantasies.
Thanks to Dromoland Castle for offering me a discounted stay and free round of golf. As always, all opinions are my own.