Take Me There: 5 Best Castle Hotels in Ireland

Always dreamt of being a Lord or Lady?  This St. Patrick's Day, why not plan an escape to one of these Irish castles turned hotels?  Ireland is filled with beautiful castles, and you'll see each has a unique style and feel.  These are my picks for playing king of the castle, after all "a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures" - Irish words to live by!

Dromoland Castle

This castle hotel  is full of traditional decor with a slightly modern twist.  If you love gardening and walks, this is the place for you.  Not only are there  two manicured gardens to stroll, the property also has some of the oldest and largest trees in Ireland.

©Dromoland Castle

©Dromoland Castle

©Dromoland Castle

©Dromoland Castle

©Dromoland Castle

©Dromoland Castle

Lough Eske Castle

Located just outside Donegal Town, Lough Eske Castle has been chosen as one of the top hotels in Ireland by Condé Nast Traveler, and it's not hard to see why.  Known for its updated style, and fairy tale setting, it feels almost too good to be true. 

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

©Lough Eske Castle

Ballynahinch Castle

Because of its secluded location on over 450 acres in the heart of Connemara Co. Galway, Ballynahinch Castle is one of my personal favorites.  Self described as an "unpretentious castle hotel," it boasts a salmon fishery and has the 12 Bens Mountain Range to its back.   If you enjoy numerous outdoor actives such as hiking, shooting, fishing, and biking, this property is highly recommended.

©Ballynahinch Castle

©Ballynahinch Castle

©Ballynahinch Castle

©Ballynahinch Castle

©Ballynahinch Castle

©Ballynahinch Castle

©Ballynahinch Castle

©Ballynahinch Castle

Ashford Castle

The most traditional on the list, Ashford Castle is for those who want to truly feel as though they are in another era.  With 83 rooms on the shores of Lough Corrib, a killer spa, and bag piper serenades, this castle has a reputation for being one of the best.

©Ashford Castle

©Ashford Castle

©Ashford Castle

©Ashford Castle

©Ashford Castle

©Ashford Castle

©Ashford Castle

©Ashford Castle

Adare Manor

Technically a manor, and not a castle (details, details), I couldn't help but add this hotel to the list.  Adare Manor closed in January for 18 months of extensive renovations and restoration, and I cannot wait to see its completion.  The property includes a golf course named one of Ireland's best by Golf Digest, as well as falconry and archery experiences, and a full service spa, making it a great place for travelers with a variety of interests.

©Adare Manor

©Adare Manor

©Adare Manor

©Adare Manor

©Adare Manor

©Adare Manor

©Adare Manor

©Adare Manor

If these castles have you day dreaming about the land of green, let us help you plan an Irish escape, you'll surely feel like the luckiest traveler around!  Erin Go Bragh!


Are you ready to escape?  Contact us to start planning your next vacation.

What To Pack: Spring Travel Edition

Spring is one of the best seasons for travel. Many destinations tend to be more affordable and less crowded, unless you're headed to a Spring Break hot spot, then all bets are off. These are my picks for packing from March-June, and can work anywhere from Europe, to NYC, to Northern California. Some things I currently own, and some will be in my closet soon!

©Stock & Olive

©Stock & Olive

1. Who doesn't love a packable stripey umbrella?

2. I have this jacket, and it gets tons of use in both Spring and Fall.

3. A denim dress is great for travel, because it can be worn so many ways, I currently have three in rotation.

4.  Comfortable espadrilles are perfect for long walks, and easy to pack.

5. A Captain's tee, so everyone knows who's in charge.

6. Bucket bags are back, and great for holding travel necessities.

7. A light sweater for unpredictable weather and chilly Spring nights.

8. I need this scarf.

9. I love how this necklace goes with everything.

10. A raincoat alternative with a hood, to keep hair happy!


Are you ready to escape?  Contact us to start planning your next vacation.

Take Me There: Sandals Royal Plantation

With The Bachelor final rose ceremony right around the corner, there is a lot of buzz around where the overnight dates and season finale were filmed.  I'm not a huge bachelor fan, but I do occasionally tune in to check out the resorts and locations where the show was shot.  After working for Sandals, I immediately recognized this year's finale spot from the previews.  I've stayed at Sandals Royal Plantation a number of times, so figured I would do a quick review, for any of you "bachelorettes" that are curious.

Sandals Royal Plantation is located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, about an hour and a half from the Montego Bay airport.  Ocho Rios is a town offering a bunch of activities that encourage you to leave your resort and explore, including climbing the famous  Dunn's River Falls, or pretending you are a Jamaican bobsled driver - I've done both.  Although it's an all inclusive, the resort is more of a boutique hotel, with only 74 suites, each with an ocean view and personal butler.  

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

The entire hotel has a very "old world" feel in its architecture and decor.  I'm a huge fan of the lobby and reception areas, and love passing the resident peacocks.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

Royal Plantation does not have a huge beach, but it's very secluded and quiet, compared to other Sandals Resorts.  The photo shows that the beach is divided into two parts, known as East and West Beach.  To get to the beaches you much climb down a number off stone steps from the bluff, so I would not recommend this hotel for anyone that is physically challenged.  

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

Unlike other Sandals, this resort leaves the pool bars and bumping music behind, creating a more serine experience.  The below photo shows the hotel's only pool, a far cry from the mammoth pools Sandals is typically known for, so if you are a pool person this might not be your spot, the resort is definitely more beach focused.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

Pictured above, most rooms include a french balcony, with upgraded categories having full size and wrap around options for privacy.  Below is one of the suite bathrooms, which I think is an area where the hotel is lacking.  The bathrooms feel a little outdated, and could use a slight refresh and updating, which is something to note if considering Royal Plantation for your vacation.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

If you like to have your cake and eat it too, book the Villa Plantana, a private villa, in a secluded location on the property.  It's the best of both worlds, having its own pool and private entrance, but still offering the option to join in the fun at the main resort.

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts

In the evening the resort has a quite and relaxed atmosphere typically offering jazz, or a band on the outdoor terrace.  Royal Planation has three restaurants for dining, as well as a beach grill during the day.  If you are staying for longer and want more dining options, nightlife, or need a pool bar fix, there is a small path that connects this resort to it's neighbor, Sandals Ochi - just an inside tip ;)  But please note the guests at nearby Sandals Ochi are not allowed to visit the Royal Plantation property.  If you want to know more about Sandals Royal Plantaiton, or Jamaica, let us help!

©Sandals Resorts

©Sandals Resorts


Are you ready to escape?  Contact us to start planning your next vacation.