Family Vacation Critic Favorite

Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate

Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare

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Overview

Set amidst 410 rolling acres of the greenest land only found in the countryside of Ireland, Dromoland Castle is one of the country’s most unique and beautiful settings in which to stay during a visit to the West Coast on Ireland. Located near the Western destinations of the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle, Dromoland itself is an actual castle, with a history dating back to the Gaelic royal family. Ninety-nine rooms are set in both old and newer buildings, lavishly decorated.

The ancestral home of the O’Brien family, Dromoland was rebuilt in the early 19th century and remained in the family until 1962. Opening as a hotel in 1963 and growing and expanding as recently as 1998, the resort features 99 bedrooms and suites in its gothic-styled grey stone walls. The castle dates back to the 1800s with its Queen Anne Court quadrangle of guestrooms dating back to the early 1700s, and the resort’s newest offerings found in the Moriarty Wing.

The resort has hosted a number of notables from around the world since it’s grand opening, including The Beatles, Nelson Mandela and former president George W. Bush, yet we were most impressed with the number of families strolling the grounds. Dromoland, a five-star, luxury resort, proves itself to be family friendly immediately upon arrival. As we drove up to reception, we slowed to make way for ‘tweens darting in front of us in unusual go-cart-style carts, and again when dozens of ducks swarmed our rental car as children tossed bits of bread amidst the flying feathers. In the distance, a father and son were fishing off the banks of the adjacent lake, and once settled indoors for dinner in the rather posh restaurant, children flanked their parents in jackets and dresses. For kids, the idea of sleeping in an actual castle appeals to their love of myths and legends, as well as a touch of Harry Potter, even if he is British. Here is a place to bring the family and stay a bit, reconnect. Be sure to book extra time at Dromoland, for it is truly a magical place where your family can truly soak in the peace and quiet and simplicity of an estate stay.

Our Editor Loves

  • Expansive grounds to explore
  • Unique resort activities such as falconry and target shooting
  • Close proximity to Cliffs of Moher, Limerick and Bunratty Castle

Family Interests

  • Bicycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse Back Riding
  • Museum/Cultural

Family Amenities

  • Babysitting
  • Children Programs
  • Connecting Rooms
  • Cribs
  • Game Room
  • Onsite Dining
  • Pool
  • Refrigerator

Room Information

Find the Best Price for Your Stay

The hotel is broken down by building, the main of which is the original castle with public rooms, a game room, a restaurant and bar, reception and 27 bedrooms. The 18th Century Queen Anne Court building houses 28 bedrooms, the Moriarty Wing houses 24, and the Link Rooms house 16 more.

Guestrooms and Suites
Eighty-five guestrooms and 13 deluxe suites are individually designed and feature damask wall coverings, custom carpeting and drapes and antique furnishings that will make you feel as if you have stepped back in time into a proper Irish manor house. It will also keep you on edge if your children are young and often have sticky fingers or dirty shoes and a desire to jump on overstuffed couches and goose-down covered beds.

Deluxe Rooms
Deluxe rooms, found in the Moriarty Wing, overlook the estate's lake and gardens.

Staterooms and Suites
Staterooms and suites in the Main and Shakespeare Galleries provide dining and sitting areas. Cottage-style decor fills the guestrooms of Queen Anne Court. For the most special of visits, book the Cottage Suite, which includes a patio, a fully stocked kitchen or a personal chef.

All rooms feature central heating and air-conditioning, Internet access, special US outlet converters and televisions. For children, the resort provides junior bathrobes and a selection of board games.

Reviews

Wonderful experience of a lifetime!

by CrisR47

Staying at Dromoland Castle was a wonderfully unique experience that I would highly recommend! I can't say enough about their staff, who were so gracious and accommodating, even helping chase down a lost passport! From the fresh flowers throughout, to the stunning architecture and beautifully decorated spaces it was five star. The king sized bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was the best you could want. Add to that a gorgeous view out our window of their golf course and delicious breakfast offerings, it was a standout experience!

Dromoland experience

by Mark F

Best Castle hotel in Ireland of the 5 we stayed at
Cabra was poor and needed work. Rooms not in castle
Ashford was grossly overpriced for rooms that you couldn't open 2 doors at a time without hurting someone.
Waterford was nice and would have liked to have stayed longer and so was Kilkea but they weren't the 5 star experience of Dromoland

Family Activities

Fishing on Lough Dromoland
The well-stocked lake (mainly trout and perch) is available for fishing. Arrange to enjoy fishing on the lake's banks or by one of the estate's boats, with assistance by an estate pro, if desired. If fishing is a passion, ask the hotel to arrange an excursion along the River Shannon.

Falconry and Hawk Walks
The Dromoland School of Falconry gives families an opportunity to experience live birds of prey up close and personal on Hawk Walks. Led by David Atkinson, who has more than 20 years experience with birds and has actually climbed mountain faces to collect fledglings, you'll learn the basics of the ancient sport of falconry, well developing an understanding of the birds and how endangered they are becoming. While no age restriction is officially imposed, Atkinson requests children are old enough to remain still and steady, as to not disturb the birds, or scare them when they swoop down to land on your arm.

During our walk with Atkinson and a young falcon, she would fly freely as we walked through the woods. Stopping every now and again to place a small piece of raw chicken into a gloved hand, the falcon would swoop from 100 yards to land precisely on an arm and collect the chicken. Impressive eyesight, but more impressive how silent and quick they move, as well as how gorgeous they are in flight, we highly recommend participating in this activity.

Horseback Riding
With nearby stables and equestrian center, riding and horseback riding lessons are available to all guests. Visit the concierge to line up either.

Archery and Clay Shooting
Both archery and clay shooting ranges are available for guests. Organized shoots and private sessions are available.

Tennis
Two all-weather outdoor tennis courts are available. Rental equipment is available at the Golf & Country Club.

Hiking and Cycling
With more than 410 acres of woodland and lakes, the estate provides an array of hiking and walking trails, where families may stumble across deer, pheasant and other country wildlife. For those who would prefer to cycle, complimentary mountain bikes are available.

Indoor Swimming Pool
The resort's indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi are part of its fitness center. However, children 16 and under are welcome to use the pool between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Pony and Trap Rides
Hop on an old-fashioned pony and trap for a 30-minute ride around the estate. The ride provides an introduction to the Castle and estate's history, although the kids will just be excited to hear the clip-clop of the horse's hooves.

Family Dining

Despite the restaurants' decidedly formal appearances, children are welcome throughout the resort. High chairs are available, as well as a children's menu featuring chicken noodle soup, Irish beef stew, chicken fingers, fish sticks, burgers and more. The menu doubles as an activity book with a maze and crossword puzzle.

Earl of Thomond Dining Room
Decked out in heavy drapery, chandeliers and velour chairs, the award-winning restaurant serves dinner from 7 to 9:30 p.m., where you can select from a la carte, five-course or vegetarian menus. A full Irish breakfast from 7:30 to 10: 30 a.m. is offered with the works: bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, black and white pudding and brown soda bread. Bono from U2 also has his own table here when he visits Dromoland!

Fig Tree Restaurant
Located in the Golf & Country Club, Fig Tree Restaurant features an outdoor patio overlooking the estate's Walled Garden. It is also through the Fig Tree that families can request and pick up picnic baskets of basic snacks to full lunches to enjoy while exploring the grounds. The restaurant provides a less formal dining space than the Earl of Thomond.

Main Gallery & Drawing Room
Light snacks are provided throughout the day, with a fireside setting. In the afternoon, Mrs. White's Afternoon Tea is not to be missed, providing the kids with a proper European tea with finger sandwiches and petit fours.

Planning & Tips

All About the Extras
Cookies and milk are provided at bedtime and babysitting services can be arranged with 24 hours notice.

The Art of Smart Timing
Travel November through March for the best bargain rates -- with the exception of Christmas, New Year's and bank holidays. The best weather, of course, is in the summer, when occupancy runs highest.

Getting There
Dromoland is located less than 10 miles from Shannon Airport and 20 miles from Limerick City. Dromoland is well marked, although well hidden by its 410 acres. Pulling in, you'll wind pass its award-winning golf courses until the castle -- literally a castle -- looms at the end of the path.

Getting Around
Limousine service can be arranged from Shannon Airport and to area attractions, such as the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle. However, it will be best to rent a car to have no restrictions and explore freely. The grounds of Dromoland are so large families can rent a golf cart to explore the property, whether they elect to golf or not.

For Mom & Dad
Spa
Located downstairs off the main lobby is an intimate spa with six treatment rooms, added to the property in 2007. The spa's small changing room with a door that opened directly to the spa's service counter (read: people may see you if a door swings open while you're changing) was not what was expected of a five-star resort spa. However, the treatments are five-star worthy and utterly relaxing, and the relaxation room may be hard to tear yourself away from. The spa also features two manicure and pedicure rooms, a hair salon and an outside Hydro Spa with whirlpool.

The Cocktail Bar
Housed in the former baron's study, the warm library-style bar features cozy seating beside a roaring fire. Weekend evenings feature live Irish music.

Golf
Dromoland is renowned for its 18-hole, 6,845-yard championship parkland golf course. The Golf Academy features 10 automated driving bays, putting greens and bunkers. Golf enthusiasts 16 and over are invited to enjoy rounds of golf during their stay.

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