The Best Castle Hotels in Ireland With Kids

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Read on for highlights of four of my favorite areas for an Ireland family break ensuring a sample of some of the most luxe and kid-friendly castle hotels to stay in Ireland that offer the classic country estate past times like falconry, archery, horseback riding, and golf, as well as gorgeous, modern spas and pools.

Ireland is a land of magic and mystery, history and haunting, faeries and friendly people. In other words, Ireland is tailor-made for families. I have been traveling to Ireland with my family for more than a decade gathering my favorite places to help other families plan ultimate Irish itineraries.

Family Castle Hotels of Ireland

Dunguaire Castle, Kinvarra, photo courtesy of irelandfamilyvacations.com

Rent a car (and read up on the proper rental insurance) and make a circle covering the entire country and experience the best family castle hotels of Ireland.

The Best Castle Hotels of Ireland. with Kids and how to see the best in Ireland

Scenic drives require many stops to consume such views. Photo by Robin Hutson

The 7 Best Castles To Stay in Ireland with Kids

 

Dromoland Castle

Home to the famed Cliffs of Moher, historic castles, and stunning coastlines, western Ireland’s magic is apparent the moment you arrive.

The Best Castle Hotels of Ireland. with Kids and how to see the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher. Photo by Robin Hutson.

Located just minutes from Shannon Airport and a short drive to the Wild Atlantic Way, Dromoland Castle is perfectly positioned for a deluxe home base to explore this area. This is a prestigious Legend Preferred Hotel that embraces families and offers kids clubs during peak school and summer breaks, and children will likely receive personalized cookies and milk at bedtime. Baby-sitting is also available for date night dinners at the Castle’s Earl of Thurmond restaurant.


Join the Luxe Family Trips Facebook group where well-traveled parents advise one another.

Activities at Dromoland Castle for the entire family include falconry, archery, boating, and a tour by jaunting car, a horse and buggy made for site seeing.

Close to the castle, families can enjoy hands-on Irish history at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park where traditional homes were brought from across Ireland to create a living history village surrounding the 15th century fortress. And evening at Bunratty’s Traditional Irish Night or Medieval Banquet (It’s nothing like Medieval Times) is a perfect end to your trip back in time.

Cliffs of Moher

The spectacular Cliffs of Moher are an hour away and a perfect gateway to the magic of the Burren, a rock landscape in County Clare where you can experience Neolithic tombs, an award-winning food trail, and farm tours. Families with younger kids will want to be sure to visit the Burren Nature Sanctuary with goat-led nature walks and a fairy forest in addition to a popular playground.

Ashford Castle

Travel further north to the farthest point of Lough Corrib, to arrive at Ashford Castle consistently voted one of the hotels in the world and the jewel of the Red Carnation Hotels portfolio. You’ll be excused if you don’t leave the castle grounds during your stay. Activities for the family include falconry, archery, kayaking, horse trekking, lake cruises, and golf. The meticulously groomed gardens invite hours of discovery, and the world-class spa is a must to experience.

Even the rainy days, so common in Ireland, are exceptional at Ashford Castle. Begin with a luxurious afternoon tea, then you and your spouse take turns exploring the property on walks with the kids, while the other retires to the time-transporting library with a good book (or just absorb the views and peace and quiet), and end the day in the private cinema for a family movie.

If your schedule allows, plan to spend Halloween at Ashford Castle, one of the most memorable holidays for our family. With a bit of magic the hotel transforms to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. Children don their school robes and rush off with new wizard friends to cook with house elves, enjoy tea in the gardens, practice magic, and enjoy their own banquet before a movie. Parents receive six hours to enjoy themselves alone — including dinner in the George V Dining Room.


Starting in the South?
Check out our new in depth guide to County Kerry and Killarney


Dublin’s Fair City

The Merrion Hotel

With Ireland’s busiest airport, it’s no surprise that many Ireland vacations begin or end in Dublin. Walking is definitely the best way to see the city, and Merrion Hotel, in Dublin’s Cultural Quarter, is in the heart of it all. Although not a castle, this hotel of four Georgian townhouses, has long been the regal headquarters of Dublin.

A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Merrion has a many family amenities including children’s menus and a gorgeous indoor pool. Merrion Square, nearby, has a children’s playground, too.

From here you can shop and people watch on Grafton Street, Dublin’s popular shopping district. The National Museum of Archeology, with its gold hoards and bog bodies, is an easy stroll, as are Trinity College and the lively Temple Bar area known for traditional Irish pub music.

The Best Day trips from Dublin

Day trips from Dublin are a terrific way to enjoy both the city and the glorious Irish countryside. Additional sites outside the city center, like the Guinness Storehouse, the Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park, and Malahide Castle are all easy to reach via taxi, bus, or light rail.

Whether you drive or use a day-tour company you’ve loads of family-friendly options. Head north to the Boyne Valley in County Meath to explore the Neolithic tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, the ancient seat of the High Kings at the Hill of Tara, and Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle at Trim.

 

Family Castle Hotels of Ireland

Glendalough, County Wicklow, photo courtesy of irelandfamilyvacations.com

County Wicklow

County Wicklow, known as the ‘Garden of Ireland’ seems further than the quick half-hour drive south from the bustling streets of Dublin. The nearby Powerscourt Estate enhances the native beauty of Wicklow with its terraces and Italianate, and Japanese Gardens.

Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest in Ireland, is a perfect picnic spot on a sunny day. Walking paths and a play area will keep your family occupied all afternoon.

County Kildaire

If you’ve a horse fanatic there is no better place to visit than the Irish National Stud in County Kildare, Retired champs graze peacefully in paddocks, their jobs done while mares watch as their foals frolic in separate fields. Peaceful St. Fiachra’s Garden invites tranquil strolls, while the stunning Japanese Garden leads you along the path of life.

The K Club

The spectacular K Club, another Legend property with Preferred Hotels, makes a wonderful base for touring the greater Dublin area if you would rather not stay in the city. Though you’ll require a car for day trips, it is far easier to take the train from nearby Kildare Town into the Dublin city center. But be sure to reserve a few days to enjoy family activities at this luxe resort. Horse riding, archery, fly-fishing lessons, and golf clinics are only a few of the activities offered.

Watch how families can spend their days at the K Club.

 


County Cork: Culture, Castles & Cuisine

Ireland’s largest county is host to one of Ireland’s most well-known attractions: the Blarney Stone. But there ‘s so much more to recommend a visit to County Cork.

Don’t miss a tasty visit to Cork’s English Market for local delicacies and exotic treats, and learn about the world’s largest butter market at the Cork Butter Museum. Nearby Cobh was the final port of call for the ill-fated Titanic and now hosts The Titanic Experience as well as a memorial to the Lusitania, which sank off its coast the following year.

The incredible Fota Wildlife Park is nearby; be sure to arrange a VIP-Family Experience in advance for an opportunity to hand feed animals and go behind the scenes with the staff.

Hayfield Manor

Cork City, Ireland’s second largest, is easily explored on foot from fabulous Hayfield Manor. Large family rooms and interconnecting suites with bedtime milk and cookies are only the beginning of the family-friendly amenities of Cork’s first five-star hotel.

Castlemartyr Resort

East of the city, near Midleton – a haven for fans of Irish whiskeys— the history of Castlemartyr Resort stretches back to the Knights Templar. Relaxing games of croquet or pony cart rides can be enjoyed on the extensive grounds. The indoor pool is one of the most beautiful in Ireland, and the hotel offers a seasonal kids’ club and babysitting.

Blarney Castle and Kinsale

Leave Cork City for points west to visit Blarney Castle. Kiss the stone (or not) before exploring the fabulous estate grounds. Don’t miss the Poison Garden or the Rock Close.

Venture to Kinsale, Ireland’s foodie capital, for fabulous dining and pirate history. Follow the coast of the Wild Atlantic Way a bit further west to discover Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southerly point.

The Kingdom of Kerry

Killarney, in Ireland’s ‘Sunny Southwest’ has long been a popular place to visit. The ‘Ladies View’, made famous by Queen Victoria during her visit in 1861 and part of the scenic Ring of Kerry, is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Ireland. A day trip to the Dingle Peninsula to visit Fungi, the Dingle Dolphin, and view the history along Slea Head Drive is a must.


Check out our new in depth family guide to County Kerry and Killarney


Killarney Park Hotel

Just steps from Killarney National Park is the Killarney Park Hotel, in the heart of Kerry’s most vibrant town. Touches of modern luxury blend with old-world elegance in this five-star, family-owned hotel that’s part of the Leading Hotels of the World. Just outside the doors jaunting carts line up to take travelers through Ireland’s first National Park to Muckross House and Gardens or Ross Castle. Your concierge can arrange bicycle rentals, golf, or even a relaxing afternoon in the spa.

From the shores of Lough Leane you can hop aboard a lake tour to Inishfalled Island where the early history of Ireland was written. Or, if you prefer a stroll, the streets of Killareny filled with charming shops, cafés, and pubs.

The Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe, stretching through the MacGuillicuddy Reeks Mountains is one of the most incredible natural landscapes in Ireland. Situated near the entrance to this incredible area is The Dunloe, (click for dates & rates) a fantastical family paradise with extra-large family suites, gentle horses, a massive adventure playground, indoor playroom, and summer movie nights. The Dunloe is, however, currently closed undergoing a massive renovation. It will reopen May 2018, and the pictures look incedible.

Nearby Kate Kearney’s Cottage offers a Traditional Irish Night filled with music and dancing, an experience that will have everyone on your family clapping and tapping along.

The 7 Best castles to stay in Ireland with kids for a luxury Ireland vacation.

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Planning a family break in Ireland

Feeling overwhelmed? The average Ireland family vacation lasts ten days. Prioritize your vacation to include the hotels nearest your top three ‘must visit’ areas.

For a first trip to Ireland you can’t go wrong with the fair city of Dublin, the beautiful scenery of Killarney, and Dromoland Castle, near the magnificent Cliffs of Moher.

I delight in creating personalized itineraries for families to make the most of their vacation in Ireland.

Whether you choose to stay in one of these areas for your entire Ireland vacation or spend a few days at each, you’ll find Ireland ready to create memories to last a lifetime.

About Jody Halsted

Jody Halsted has been traveling across Ireland for over a decade with her own children, discovering the most family-friendly sites and activities on the tourist trail and off. Dedicated to Ireland family travel, her website Ireland Family Vacations, provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation.

For families looking for a perfectly tailored Ireland vacation, Jody offers Ireland vacation coaching, working with your family to help you choose the perfect lodging, destinations, and activities to fit your family’s budget, interests, and expectations.

 


Taking the Family To Europe?
Well Travelled Families Must Be Well Covered

Allianz AllTrips Premier Plan

I’ve flown almost a million miles in my life and never thought about travel insurance until recently. I can’t help but focus on increased incidents of terrorism and extreme weather. For families like ours who travel frequently for work and pleasure, it made sense to purchase an annual family plan. The benefit of annual plans is that you pay one fee to cover everyone in your household over a twelve-month period. Each trip has the same level of protection, whether it is a work trip, ski trip, spring break, cruise, or a trip to Europe.

The price of our annual plan, AllTrips Premier, came to $450 for our family of four. Prices are based on the ages of the members insured. Change fee reimbursements, emergency medical coverage and transportation, and delayed baggage coverage are those words you don’t love until you need them. $45,000 in rental car protection certainly exceeds what the car rental companies offer at the counter.

Hopefully we don’t encounter any issues on our journeys, but I am delighted by the comfort that our insurance policy offers me. Read more about the Allianz AllTrips Premier Plan.

Though they are a sponsor, Allianz had no oversight in any content. These opinions are mine after researching family travel insurance and purchasing one of their plans for my family. –Robin Hutson

15 Responses
  • Lisa Goodmurphy
    February 29, 2016

    So many incredible places to stay in Ireland! My husband and I stayed at Ashford Castle on our “babymoon” 20 years ago and it probably still ranks as one of the nicest places we have ever stayed. We are returning to Ireland in March with our younger daughter and are staying at two of your other featured hotels – Dromoland Castle and Killarney Park Hotel – and we can’t wait!!

    • Robin
      February 29, 2016

      That’s so wonderful! While editing and photo researching this piece, I can tell you we are headed to Ireland now the first chance we get!

    • Jody
      February 29, 2016

      You have a wonderful itinerary ahead of you Lisa! Have an amazing trip!

  • Nicole • The JetSet Family
    February 29, 2016

    We have not traveled to Ireland yet, but after attending the Los Angeles Travel Show this weekend I think it’s just topped our short list.

    • Jody
      February 29, 2016

      I love when people ‘discover’ Ireland! Please let me know if you need any advice!

  • Sarah Ebner
    February 29, 2016

    Oh my, what wonderful places to stay – they all look incredible. We went to Ireland some years ago now and stayed in Connemara in a lovely hotel and then a very cheap and cheerful place in Galway. We’d love to go back and sample some of these…..

    • Jody
      February 29, 2016

      I hope you get to return and try a bit of luxurious Ireland Sarah! (Though cheap & cheerful are wonderful, as well!)

  • samiya selim
    March 1, 2016

    I try and never have regrets for places I didn’t get to travel to, when I had a chance, I always say opportunity will come up, but Ireland is definitely one of those places we wish we had visited during our 11 years living in England…it is just so beautiful and these castle hotels, wow! Stunning! Just increases my resolve to get back to Europe someday once done with Asia 🙂

    • Jody
      March 7, 2016

      It’s never too late to visit Ireland!

  • mark
    March 5, 2016

    These places look amazing! I would love to stay at one of these castles. It would be fantastic!

    • Jody
      March 7, 2016

      I hope you get the chance one day Mark!

  • Susan Nystoriak
    September 17, 2016

    This blog/website is an amazing resource. Ireland is a place I look forward to visiting someday. While my family is not Irish at all, I don’t think it matters in the least! As a writer, I find the charming and almost “mystical” photos of Ireland to be truly inspirational. And as my daughter declared, it would be like a dream come true! Thanks for the wonderful information here! It helps a lot as I dream and plan my Ireland trip for the future.

    • Robin
      September 28, 2016

      Thank you Susan! I hope your Ireland vacation is the dream journey you have waited for!

  • Laine Mullin
    December 11, 2016

    My husband and I and our 10 month old would love this. Always wanted to go to Ireland and to stay in a castle would make it magical. ..Ashford and killarny sound beautiful…,how much do these hotels cost in u.s. money? And how do we convert the money?

    • Robin Hutson
      December 11, 2016

      Laine, It would definitely make it a magical trip! We have Trip Advisor links after each of these properties (and they will show US dollars from the booking site of your choice) so that you can check rates near your travel dates. Hotel rates fluctuate so greatly, we do not print them, as they will not be accurate enough.

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