There’s something ethereal and ancient about Ireland, warmed by the craic of its countrymen. The Emerald Isle is dotted with ancient fortifications, fishing villages and cities that are simultaneously historic and ultramodern. You’ll find accommodation in all sorts of places – opulent fairytale castles, cosy coastal B&Bs or flashy boutique hotels in Dublin. Here’s our round-up of the best of them, bookable with Culture Trip.
It’s the personal touches at this boutique hotel that make it one of the best in Ireland. Based in a quiet suburb of Dublin, you’ve got the city at your fingertips and a peaceful bolthole to return to. You’re greeted with a 99 ice cream on arrival, and there’s a “munchies box” in every room. Head up to Layla’s Rooftop Restaurant for a full three-course meal with panoramic views of the Dublin skyline, or relax with a cocktail mixed by a professional mixologist in the lobby bar. There’s a subterranean cinema room, too, if you want an evening of chilling out.
In the south of the city centre, the Dylan Hotel is the only five-star boutique hotel in the heart of Dublin. It’s housed in a classic townhouse, once home to the nurses of the Royal City of Dublin Hospital. Each room has been individually designed and has bags of character – ornately carved headboards, antique-style dressers and plenty of velvet. There’s an array of wining and dining options: fresh oysters in the Eddison Restaurant, champagne ice pops on the plant-filled Nurserie Terrace, or perhaps an Irish Painkiller in the plush Ruby Room.
If you’re looking for a luxury golfing break, or an escape to Cork’s beguiling countryside, this is the hotel for you. Most of the rooms have a private balcony, so you can gaze out over the championship golf course on your doorstep. If you upgrade to a deluxe room, it comes with complimentary chocolates and a bottle of red chosen by the sommelier. For a bit of pampering, Fota Island Spa embraces its bucolic location, using their own natural, Irish skincare products for treatments.
In the historic town of Donegal, this hotel is a few minutes’ drive from the breathtaking scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way. A certified member of the Donegal Food Coast initiative, this one is for the foodies. The Market House Restaurant serves up local steak and seafood straight from the boat at Killybegs in the evening, and an array of fresh salads from the kitchen garden at lunchtime. Conversely, the Abbey Bar is all about real ales and elevated pub grub. After a hearty meal of Irish fare, you can toddle up to bed in one of the plush rooms.
Set in 100 acres (40ha) of parkland, with the ancient woodland of Dún a Rí Forest Park as your backdrop, it doesn’t get more like a fairytale than Cabra Castle. Crenulated turrets, archery slit windows and creeping ivy combine to create a picture-perfect façade. Inside, you’ll find rooms fit for kings and queens with velvet-curtained beds, glowing candelabras and wood-panelled ceilings harking back to medieval days. The Derby Bar is a picture of old-world charm, with a roaring fire in the evenings, and lavish afternoon teas served in the Drawing Room by day.
Greenhills has been in the same family since it opened its doors in 1969, on the outskirts of Limerick. Guests can enjoy access to the Leisure Club next door, which has a full timetable of fitness classes, swim classes and things for kids to do. After a workout, Green’s Café Bar and Restaurant offers a locally sourced menu – or, perhaps, an indulgent afternoon tea on the terrace is more your thing. Each room is individually designed, from comfortable classic-tier rooms for couples to large family rooms.
Spread across acres and acres of Irish countryside, you’ll find lakes for fishing, historic gardens for strolling and a falconry and archery centre when wandering the grounds at Lyrath Estate. Rooms in the 17th-century stately home are decked out with four-poster beds; rooms in the modern annexe are all contemporary luxury. Guests have complimentary access to the estate’s leisure centre, with its swimming pool and gym. If pampering is more your thing, head to the Oasis Spa, which specialises in Elemis and Kerstin Florian treatments.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel blends into the tranquil scenery on the shores of Lough Corrib. This 18th-century mansion offers five-star luxury on a sprawling estate; the grounds are home to a nine-hole parkland golf course, falconry centre and old-style cinema room that transports you back to the 1940s. Even the lowest-tier rooms are crowned with gilded mirrors and gold finishes. The dining experience is something special here in the Pullman Restaurant: two classic Pullman carriages, retaining their Orient Express opulence, sit in the grounds where a fine-dining menu of locally sourced products is served in style.
This magnificent castle has been welcoming guests since the 16th century. On the grounds, you’ll find one of Ireland’s finest parkland golf courses, horse riding, archery and falconry alongside glorious estate walks through woodland and gardens. Accommodation is in sumptuous rooms, resplendent with gold trim and satin cushions. Many of the rooms have lake views, and the most lavish suites have canopy beds and soaking tubs in the en-suite.
For a budget-friendly stay in Ireland, book one of the best hostels in Cork now on Culture Trip.
Looking for more plush hotels in Ireland? Check out our guide to the most family-friendly hotels in Ireland, bookable with Culture Trip.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.