As frosty days turn to long nights, there’s no need to escape the cold. Put the winter doldrums aside and embrace the best that the season has to offer, Downton Abbey-style, at Ireland’s Dromoland Castle. Think: Cozy spaces. Evenings spent by the fire. Brisk walks through the countryside. Days idle by, with opportunities to enjoy falconry or horseback riding. Warm up with afternoon tea or a signature spa treatment. Nights are for indulging in an artful take on traditional Irish ingredients at The Earl of Thomond Restaurant before retiring to the cocktail bar for a tarot-card inspired libation or a glass of Irish whiskey. Then, it’s off to the stately guest rooms for a restful night before beginning another day as a royal.
If Ireland’s temperate climate isn’t enough to lure travelers from the States – though it’s chilly, the daily low rarely dips below freezing – Dromoland Castle in County Clare has a number of winter specials on offer. Stay two nights and receive a special rate that includes a five-course Table d’Hote Dinner in the Earl of Thomond Restaurant. The two-night package starts at $700 based on double occupancy. Or, gather your gal pals for a special wine weekend from February 21–22. The getaway includes a six-course meal that showcases the best of the Co. Clare culinary scene, paired with six different wines. Rates start at $881 for the two-night package.
Set on 450 acres of parkland with 97 rooms and suites, Dromoland Castle dates back to the 16th century when it was home of the O’Brien family, whose lineage dates back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, one of the last High Kings of Ireland. Converted to a hotel in the 1960s and fresh off a $20 million renovation and restoration, Dromoland Castle exhibits the best of its regal Irish heritage.
Central to Dromoland Castle’s appeal is its location. Just 15 minutes from Shannon Airport, Dromoland sits at the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way – the 1,553-mile route along Ireland’s west coast. Dotted with small fishing villages, the trail passes vivid seascapes, with plenty of opportunities to stop to enjoy a local catch. The Cliffs of Moher, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is just an hour’s drive from the Castle. And the limestone, lunar-like landscape of the Burren National Park is only 45 minutes away.
Though surrounded by Ireland’s famously dramatic landscapes, Dromoland Castle is just an hour away from Galway, which will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020. The arts abound, as the city has been designated a UNESCO City of Film, and it has a vibrant musical, theater and literature scene. Dublin, home to the newly opened Museum of Literature Ireland, is 2.5 hours east.
Families: Multigenerational families have the perfect venue at Dromoland, which features something for each age group – tennis lessons, bespoke golf clinics, horse and buggy rides, archery, garden tours, falconry, bubble baths on demand, and even a genealogy expert to help trace any Irish familial roots.
Golf: No one does greens better than Ireland. With its 18-hole parkland course, Dromoland offers expert lessons at its School of Golf, as well as a newly renovated driving range that feature “power tees,” eliminating the need for bending down to replace a tee each time.
Dromoland is perfectly suited to enjoy Ireland’s famed links courses – Lahinch, Ballybunion and Tralee – as well as the new Adare Manor, which will host the Ryder Cup in 2026. Stay at Dromoland and transfer between the courses via helicopter – which the Castle can arrange – or simply take advantage of Dromoland’s ability to book a tee time.
Weddings: All of Dromoland Castle can be rented out for royally lavish weddings. Among the Irish touches: The bride can make her entrance via horse and carriage; bagpipers can create fanfare as the guests arrive; tents or even glass pavilions can be erected on-site; step dancers can perform; and fireworks over the golf course will end the evening with a pop!
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