You can’t visit Ireland without spotting or visiting a castle along the way. While looking into various castles in Ireland, I realized that some of them had been converted into hotels.
This got me thinking that it would be cool to stay overnight in one with my family. After considering a few different options, I settled on one that struck a balance between having room for my whole family, maximizing my credit card benefits, and offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
And so I booked a night for my family at the Adare Manor, a five-star castle hotel in County Kerry. It was one of the highlights of our trip to Ireland.
Adare Manor – Booking
There are actually quite a number of castles in Ireland that you can book a stay at; however, most are small and can only accommodate couples or families of four in a room.
You could book two rooms, but depending on the age of your children, it may not be an ideal set up. Furthermore, the costs start to add up quickly, as some castles aren’t cheap to stay in, so this greatly narrowed down our options.
In the end, we went with Adare Manor because of its convenient location, the slightly modern yet elegant vibe, and the fact that they could accommodate my family of five into one room.
While Adare Manor is considered a castle by most, it technically isn’t one. Rather, it’s a Neo-Gothic manor built in the 1800s by the Earl of Dunraven.
For all intents and purposes though, it looked and felt like one, and the kids couldn’t tell the difference.
The story behind the manor’s beginnings, along with the attention to design and detail, makes it an interesting place to stay. For example, it was constructed as a “calendar” house, with 365 windows, 52 chimneys, seven pillars, and four towers to represent the number of days, weeks, and seasons in a year.
If I’m planning a stay at a high-end property, I always check to see if it is a part of Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR). Sure enough, Adare Manor was a participant in the program.
Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts offers additional perks that make your dollar go a little further, such as:
- Guaranteed late check-out
- Early check-in, if available
- $100 dining or spa credit
- Complimentary breakfast
Sometimes booking the FHR rate ends up being more expensive than booking directly with the hotel, so make sure the extra perks justify any additional cost you may incur.
For Adare Manor, I found a FHR rate of €865 ($1,125 CAD) for a Manor Deluxe Twin Room, which was the same as what the hotel was charging. Online, it showed that this room can only accommodate two adults and two children.
I emailed the hotel in advance, and they confirmed they could accommodate five, as long as the third child was a toddler. At the time of booking, which was pre-pandemic, my daughter was only three.
After I made my booking, I simply emailed them to change the number of guests on the booking. They also amended my room to a Manor Deluxe Double Room.
Since I made the booking using my Amex Platinum Card, I could also apply my annual $200 travel credit towards the booking, which brought down the cost.
I also booked a room for my parents under my husband’s Amex US Platinum Card for €674 ($888 CAD), and used his $200 (USD) annual FHR credit towards their booking.
Another option if you don’t fancy the FHR benefits but still want to minimize your out-of-pocket cost is to book using a credit card with fixed-value points. Any credit cards with fixed-value travel points, such as HSBC Rewards or TD Rewards, can be used to offset the cost of your booking.
Adare Manor – Location
Adare Manor is set on an 840 acre estate surrounded by woodlands and medieval ruins, with the River Maigue running through the property. It’s located in the UNESCO heritage village of Adare, on the western side of Ireland.
Adare is known for its lively pubs, antique shops, and traditional houses with thatched roofs. It’s conveniently located just outside of the city of Limerick, between Killarney and the Cliffs of Moher, making it an ideal location to make a stop.
Adare Manor – Check-in
You can’t miss the entrance to Adare Manor. Just as you exit the small town of Adare, you’ll come across a large gated entrance.
As we pulled up to the entrance, an attendant came out of the guard house to greet us and asked for our reservation details. He checked our information against his list, and then allowed us through.
We drove down a small road through the well-groomed property, before hitting the main entrance of the manor.
The manor itself looks like something out of Downton Abbey. The large, gray stone walls with stained glass windows towered above us, and gave it a sense of grandeur.
Outside, the grounds are expansive and well-manicured.
As a matter of fact, you’ll see little robotic lawnmowers that look like little Batmobiles grooming the lawns all over.
At the entrance, we were welcomed by another pair of attendants, with one fully suited in a tailcoat and top hat. They ushered us into the check-in area, which was a room off to the side of the lobby.
The lobby’s décor was elegant and traditional, but didn’t feel dated. The room had wooden floors, a high ceiling surrounded by stone archways, and dark, wooden paneling that made it reminiscent of a cathedral.
If you look carefully, you’ll see gargoyles and other decorative stone and wood carvings adorning parts the manor. In fact, many of these carvings depict creatures from the medieval book of mythical beasts, the Bestiary.
The seating consisted of upholstered armchairs and couches set around tufted ottomans. On one wall was a massive painted portrait above a fireplace mantle.
In fact, you’ll find quite a few painted portraits adorning the hallways throughout the manor.
In the corner is a concierge desk, who will happily help you book on- and off-property activities.
While Jon checked in, I sat in the lobby admiring my surroundings. I’m glad to report that the check-in staff did not make a fuss about my third child no longer being a toddler.
We arrived around noon, and luckily both of our rooms were ready for us.
Adare Manor – Deluxe Double Room
Our Deluxe Double Room was located on the fourth floor in the new wing of the manor, right at the end of the hall. There is an elevator to move between floors.
They placed us next to my parents’ room. The two rooms actually had their own separate entrance into the hallway, so for a larger family, it could potentially serve as a two bedroom suite.
The room was massive and brightly lit from the sunlight pouring in through the windows. As you enter the room, there’s a closet on your left and a bathroom directly in front.
The closet had a safe and ample storage space.
Hung up inside were also bathrobes and slippers, delightfully sized for each member of family! My daughters got quite excited about this, as they’ve never had their own slippers and bathrobes in a hotel before. What a treat!
The wooden floor of the entry way gave way to carpet near the bedroom area.
The bedroom itself was very spacious. It had two queen beds, but to accommodate our family of five, the hotel had also set up a rollaway bed for us.
In fact, there was also a crib in the room, as when I originally booked the room pre-pandemic, my youngest was only a toddler. The hotel wasn’t sure what we preferred at this point, although it’s clear what my youngest preferred.
Even with the addition of a crib and rollaway, we didn’t feel cramped for space.
There was a small table with a couple of chairs by the window, a desk in the corner of the room, and a TV on top of the dresser.
In the dresser was a mini-fridge, beverage station, and a variety of snacks that were complimentary for our stay.
The desk had three cupcakes set out, one for each kid, which they thoroughly enjoyed. We really felt that the hotel went out of their way to welcome everyone in our family.
The in-room technology was impressive for a 19th century building. Complimentary Wi-Fi was available throughout the manor.
In the room, there was an iPad that provided information on the hotel’s amenities, accessed room controls, took requests for housekeeping service, and placed in-room dining orders. I’m also happy to report that the hotel serves kids meals.
Behind the night table were several USB ports on the wall, which made it easy to charge our phones and devices.
The bathroom was spacious and decorated with wallpaper depicting a hunt. There was a bathtub, separate rooms for the toilet and shower, and a double sink.
Acqua Di Parma amenities were supplied in the bathroom, and they even gave us separate Sebamed toiletries for babies and young children.
The room was well-appointed, and we had plenty of room for everybody.
Adare Manor – Breakfast
There are several venues for dining on-site.
Breakfast is included with any stay. It’s served in The Gallery, a room inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.
There is a self-serve buffet, and then also items that can be ordered from a menu.
The buffet portion had a decent spread, but it seemed slightly subpar for a for a hotel of this calibre.
Staff served a variety of juices, and left a basket of baked goods at the table. There were also made-to-order hot dishes available, including waffles, pancakes, omelettes, and the traditional bacon and eggs.
Afternoon tea is also served here in The Gallery. I was impressed that they even offered a special afternoon tea menu just for kids.
Adare Manor – Dining
The Drawing Room serves light bites, such as soups and sandwiches. Table games, like chess and dominoes, are available here to keep the kids entertained while dining.
The Oak Room is the Adare Manor’s Michelin star restaurant. There is a choice between three tasting menus.
My parents treated us to dinner here and the food was exquisite, as one would expect for the price.
The Tack Room Bar is a perfect place for light bites and a cocktail in the evening. Although we didn’t get a chance to check it out, we were told it houses quite a collection of fine liquors.
You can also book a whisky tasting to sample some of their finest selections.
The Carriage House is a newly renovated elegant dining and social hub that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s located just a short walk from the Adare Manor.
Adare Manor – Activities
There are a lot of activities offered on-site; however, only a few are complimentary. These include audio tours around the property, hiking trails, bike riding, and two daily movie screenings.
Each day, the Adare Manor also hosts one complimentary activity, which can be a garden tour, a session on padel tennis, or a yoga session.
The Padel Club is the hotel’s activity centre and a new addition to the property. It’s located down a small path just outside the manor.
The décor here is very 21st century modern, which is in contrast to the manor itself, but keeps with the elegant and luxurious theme. Upon arriving, the staff were happy to give us a tour of the facility.
The building houses the gym, pool, hot tub, steam room, and sauna, which are all complimentary to use. The pool facilities were beautiful, and had I not been with the kids, I probably could’ve spent the better part of a day just relaxing here.
The change rooms were very clean, with a row of lockers and a few shower rooms.
Again, we were impressed to find kid-sized robes and sandals.
The building also houses two padel tennis courts and a state-of-the-art virtual simulation room, which can be rented out at an hourly rate.
Inside the virtual simulation room, you’ll find a large room with a projection screen in the front and a seating area in the back with some snacks and beverages. You can choose a variety of games or sport simulations to play.
The staff were nice enough to let my son test it out for free.
There’s also a small wellness retail shop that sold Lululemon apparel.
Inside the manor is a small cinema, and each day, they show two films. There is one in the afternoon geared towards kids and families, and an evening feature for adults.
Outside, there is a fairy trail that kids will have fun exploring. Along the trail, there are statues and fairies, tree stumps to step on, benches to sit on, a slide, and a little house in the middle of it all.
The massive estate grounds are immaculate, and offer a very picturesque setting. It’s nice to take a stroll around after dinner, or to cycle through it with the complimentary bikes.
They even have a cargo bike for those with younger kids who can’t yet bike. In the cargo bikes, they can sit in the front while mom or dad pedals.
Adare Manor offers a variety of fee-based activities, too, including archery, fishing, clay pigeon disc shooting, falconry, golf, and horse-drawn carriage rides. My dad and husband enjoyed trying disc shooting, since it’s something we don’t readily have in Canada.
Spa treatments are also offered, should you be inclined to book one.
A Surprise Encounter
Apparently the hotel is visited by many well-known folks, too. We were told by staff that you never know who you may run into.
The week prior to our arrival, they hosted a golf tournament, and Tiger Woods was present as a guest. Unfortunately, we missed him during our stay, but as we returned from a nice stroll around the property, we encountered a real-life Ghostbuster in the lobby!
What a nice way to top off an already amazing stay.
Other Irish Castles to Consider
This hotel was once truly a castle. The décor is more traditional and dated, but if you prefer a more authentic experience, it may fit the bill.
Even if you don’t stay at the castle, you can still visit the property for high tea, as we did. You’re also free to then walk around its grounds and gardens, which are also lovely.
Dromoland offers more complimentary activities than Adare Manor; however, rooms can only accommodate a maximum of four guests.
Ashford was another luxury castle we considered, with plenty of unique paid family-friendly activities, such as tree-climbing or zip lining. Located further north, it would have been a significant detour from the rest of our itinerary just to visit.
Adare Manor lived up to its reputation, providing my family with a truly luxurious castle experience while showcasing Irish hospitality at its best.
I’d highly recommend staying in a castle for any family visiting Ireland, as it’s quite a unique experience. We definitely splurged for our stay at Adare Manor, but there are other properties that are more budget-friendly too.