by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson
Set atop a hill overlooking Dublin Bay, Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel’s surroundings are unabashedly idyllic. About a 30-minute drive from Dublin Airport, this 18th century castle hides behind a thick stone wall, between the quaint village of Dalkey and Killiney Beach. In operation for nearly 45 years, life runs smoothly at Fitzpatrick Castle, where guests always seem relaxed and little ones are welcomed despite the hotel’s grand appearance.
Having had quite a number of owners over the past couple of centuries, the castle has a rich history — it was used by the Black & Tans, the IRA and the Republicans during the country’s civil war in the early 20th century. Explore more of this history via a jaunt at Victoria, Park located just behind the castle.
While Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel is not a designated “family” hotel, it is incredibly family-friendly. In addition to featuring family rooms that sleep five guests, special requests for little ones are easily accommodated. There are special times for children to enjoy the hotel’s large pool area, where there’s a well-outfitted playground onsite, and even the most curious of tots are welcomed with a big smile.
It’s been some time since the hotel’s last major renovation, but guestrooms, as well as many of the public areas have been upgraded with modern furnishings that complement the original architecture and style of the building. Though you will find the layout a bit quirky — there are separate elevators for going up and down, which can get confusing (though you can always take the stairs!) — it’s all a part of staying in the massive former castle.
Our Editor Loves
- Spacious, adjoining rooms
- Twice daily children's swim times
- Parking located directly behind hotel
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are four non-suite room configurations to choose from at Fitzpatrick Castle, including dedicated family rooms that sleep up to five people. All guestrooms feature ultra-comfy hypoallergenic beds, windows that open, cable television, coffee and tea service, toiletries, shower/tub combinations, free Wi-Fi, turndown service and a much-appreciated carafe of water that is replenished each day. Cribs and cots are available free of charge and there are a number of connecting rooms. While it's obvious that no major upgrades have been made in some time, dÃ©cor and bedding have all been updated to achieve a modern, yet traditional feel.
The Classic Room is the most basic accommodation type offered at Fitzpatrick, and has either one double bed or two twin beds. The most affordable of these rooms lack any sort of a view as the castle is U-shaped, thus they face the rooms on the other side of the building and overlook a few trees that have been arranged between the two sides of the hotel. You can request a Classic Room with a balcony and a view of Dublin Bay for an upcharge. While the Classic Room is fairly spacious by European standards and a family of two adults and one toddler will be comfortable, it might be a little tight for a larger family or a family with an older child. There's a vanity, a small table and two armchairs, as well as plenty of storage space. However, there's no refrigerator, so storing fresh foods, milk, juice and anything else isn't really an option. Request buckets of ice each night in order to keep milk cold for toddlers -- the hotel will happily accommodate.
Executive Rooms have all the same amenities as Classic Rooms, but with lots of extra space, so they are ideal for families and longer stays. Each of these rooms feature two king size beds, making them a good bet for families with teenagers and older children, as well as co-sleeping families.
If you have a bit more wiggle room in your budget, you might consider booking a Family Room. These rooms are the most spacious of all the non-suite accommodations. They have two king size beds, as well as space for a third single bed, which can be provided upon request. There's also a separate dressing area. Additionally, the staff will provide a mini-fridge upon request for guests in these rooms.
There are several suites at Fitzpatrick Castle, including Royal Suites and Castle Suites, all of which have views of the bay and a separate sitting room. The suites actually date back to the early 18th century and are decorated with rich fabrics and deep woods that evoke the elegance of that time period. Though these rooms are larger and feature a few upgrades, including balconies, bathrobes and slippers, heated towel rods and more, the sleeping area itself isn't larger, making them better suited for smaller families. One nice perk of a suite stay is that you can have a traditional tea service set up in your room, rather than joining the crowd in the library -- a great option to have, especially if you are traveling with a wiggly baby or toddler who gets into everything.
In-room babysitting services and 24-hour room service are available in all room types. If you are not sure whether certain amenities are available in your room, or don't see them upon your arrival, be sure to ask the staff, as they are generally willing to do anything within reason to make your stay more comfortable. Keep in mind that this is very old, historic building, and there will naturally be a few eccentricities -- heating and cooling aren't perfect, halls are narrow, elevators are small, the stairs can be a bit precarious for young children and accessibility features are nearly non-existent -- but if you arrive prepared, there's no reason the pleasantness of your stay should be affected.
I stay here at least 3 to 4 times a month as I have business in the area. A real touch of class, great gym and health area including pool. Worth a stay as they do the extra special things that make the place stand out from other hotels. Some of the staff I met have been there a long time and give that stately grand home feeling to the place. Is it any wonder a lot of American visitors to Ireland stay here given the nice homely Irish welcome.
This hotel is everything we want from a hotel. They have rooms with balconies facing out over Dublin and Dublin Bay. Lots of free parking. One can take a bus direct to Dublin airport. A bus goes into downtown Dublin as does a train from nearby Dalkey.
The hotel has restaurants but Dalkey has every type of restaurant and pub etc., that one can imagine. The coast, beaches etc., are nearby. The staff are wonderful, your wish is their command, within reason of course. Breakfast, included with our room, has everything that we wanted and we could order what was not on the buffet, most things had no extra charge, just ask. We were extremely happy with our stay.
Fitzpatrick features a gorgeous, immaculately kept 20-meter indoor swimming pool, surrounded by beautiful tiling in serene shades of blue, and modern teak loungers. There's a wall of windows facing the outdoors, as well as another large window facing one of the hotel's public lounge areas -- a great spot for parents to keep an eye on older children while enjoying a bit of peace and quiet. Grownups can also indulge in a bit of relaxation in the on-deck hot tub while the little ones play. There is no lifeguard on duty, so if you have younger children or children that aren't proficient swimmers, be sure to join them. Designated swim times for children are usually scheduled two or three times per day in one-and-a-half to two-hour blocks -- once late in the morning and again early in the evening. Be sure to check the schedule upon your arrival.
On the hill just behind the hotel, you'll find Victoria Park, which features a well-outfitted playground where your kids can burn off a bit of energy -- a perfect pre-dinner activity. In addition to the playground, there are walking trails with excellent views of Dublin Bay, as well as a number of historic structures.
If you will be visiting during a major holiday or summer break, be sure to call or check the hotel's Web site for any special events or programs it may be offering for children, as these take place seasonally.
PJs is a traditional-style restaurant serving breakfast and dinner daily, as well as Sunday brunch. Ask your server about a kids menu, as they are common in Ireland, and most restaurants also offer children half portions of just about everything on the regular menu.
Even if you don't eat any other meals at Fitzpatrick Castle, you're likely to find yourself at PJs during breakfast time. Both extensive Continental options, as well as a hot, full-Irish buffet are offered as a part of a Bed and Breakfast Package, but other items including omelets, crepes and pancakes can be ordered from the menu at an additional cost.
Don't be intimidated by the white tablecloths and frou-frou dÃ©cor either -- children of all ages are certainly welcomed at PJs. Just be warned that high chairs are very limited and you might even have to specifically ask for one. Booster seats are also scarce here, as well as in other restaurants in Ireland.
The Grill at the Castle
Despite its upscale vibe, the Grill is also very welcoming to little ones. It's located in the Castle's former dungeon, and big kids will definitely get a kick out of this. Both a la carte and prix fixe menus are available, as is a dedicated children's menu, featuring a few lovely items including sticky chicken wings and fillet of salmon, in addition to the old standbys of fish sticks, chicken tenders and pasta. There's also a host of fun desserts created just for kids. Adults will also have plenty to choose from -- the menu is extensive and includes everything from burgers to smoked salmon, with lots of ingredients of Irish origin.
Be sure to check out the Funday Lunch at The Grill from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. In addition to the standard menu, you'll find novelty desserts and kids mocktails. There's even face painting!
Again, if you aren't offered a high chair, be sure to ask for one as they are likely floating around somewhere.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
If you're traveling with a baby or young toddler, no need to worry about sleeping arrangements. Just request a cot ahead of time and the hotel will have a play yard-style crib outfitted with sheets and a thick blanket set up in your room when you arrive.
When you check in you'll receive information for logging into the free in-room Wi-Fi, but each password is only good for 24 hours, so you'll need to request a new one each day of your stay. This takes just seconds for the reception staff to print out and is well worth the convenience of being able to research restaurants and sights from your room.
You should also note that swim caps are required while in the pool, but if you forget to bring one for any member of your family, they are available for purchase at the hotel.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season for Ireland is between May and September and low season is between November and March. Winter low season bargains can be found and rates are reasonable during the shoulder season months of April and October.
Temperatures rarely dip below 40 degrees in the winter or above 70 degrees in the summer. Though rain is common throughout the entirety of the year, the wettest weather occurs during the low season when it tends to be dark and windy. Summer days are longer and much warmer, though there's likely to still be a chill in the air when the sun isn't shining.
Dublin Airport is about 30 minutes away by car and a shuttle is available. If you are renting a car at the airport, be aware that there is a small toll on the highway you will need to take to get from the airport to the hotel, so pick up some Euro before you head off.
You can also take the DART -- Dublin's electric rail system -- to the Dalkey Station, which is about a mile from the castle. The DART runs every 15 minutes, but there is no stop at Dublin Airport, so you will have to take a bus or taxi into the city center and catch the DART from there. DART offers various ticket types, including a family package that is valid for up to two adults and four children, for less than 20 Euro for an all-day pass.
Taxis are available from the airport to the castle, but it would likely be a costly ride.
Renting a car is the preferred way to get around Ireland, especially if you'll be traveling cross-country or between multiple counties. There are several car rental agencies at Dublin Airport, including a few popular American chains. Self-serve parking at the hotel is free, as is street parking in Dublin on weekends and holidays. Weekday parking is metered and rates are reasonable. Free street parking can be found in most of the other nearby villages, but is limited and can be tricky to figure out. In any case, be prepared to spend an extra few minutes looking for a spot wherever you go.
If you don't plan on renting a car or you don't want to worry about parking in the city, you can purchase all-day DART passes that will take you to and from most of the coastal towns between northern County Dublin and County Wicklow, south of Dublin.
For Mom and Dad
The hotel's leisure center is wonderfully outfitted with a large pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Spa treatments and fitness classes are also available, and in-room massages can be arranged.
The Library Bar is a cozy place to have a drink and chat with the knowledgeable bartenders after the kids go to bed, though on our visit, it wasn't uncommon to see older children playing games and reading while their parents enjoyed a pint.