When we think of Scotland and Ireland, many of us immediately conjure up the beautiful, medieval castles that pepper the landscapes throughout both countries. Often, the majestic castles loom over the modern day cities, their commanding presence still a key feature, even after hundreds of years.
When planning a trip to either Scotland or Ireland, treat yourself to a luxurious night (or two!) in one of many castles that have been transformed into hotels or bed & breakfasts. Explore the grounds, read up on the history, or just pretend you're royalty for a day! It is a wonderful, enchanting way to experience these two beautiful countries.
10 Dromoland Castle - Ireland
If you are looking for total luxury and exquisite views, then Dromoland Castle is the place to visit. Upon first entering through the grand gates of the castle, the manicured gardens and looming turrets assure you that this is a stay you won't soon forget.
Dromoland Castle dates back to the 16th century, where it was occupied by the O'Brien clan, who were direct descendants of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. Today, the castle combines its rich history with magnificent luxury, each guestroom decorated with unique touches that pay heed to the time period when the castle was built. With 450 acres to explore, including a rose garden and lily pond, Dromoland Castle offers many leisure activities for you to enjoy as well.
9 Inverlochy Castle - Scotland
Inverlochy Castle is nestled among some of Scotland's most breathtaking scenery, at the base of Ben Nevis in Glencoe's haunting mountains. This area of Scotland has a dark and mysterious past, with tales of the terrible Glencoe massacre that took place in 1692. Despite the tragic history, tourists continue to flock to this area to experience its beauty and grandeur in person.
What better way to spend some time in this gorgeous landscape than to spend a night at Inverlochy Castle? There are 17 beautifully-decorated rooms to choose from, as well as three separate dining areas to enjoy their first class cuisine. There is also the 2-bedroom Gate House, located a three-minute walk from the castle, to offer you even more privacy and tranquility. While castles cater mainly to adults only, Inverlochy Castle welcomes children of all ages, and offers a nice variety of activities for the children to do, including a billiards room, games room, and a boat trip on their loch.
8 Cabra Castle - Ireland
Only an hour outside of Dublin, Cabra Castle is a popular venue for weddings and special events, its regal structure a formidable backdrop for photos. The original castle dates back to the 1760's when it was first owned and occupied by the O'Reilly family. The Courtroom Restaurant in the castle offers an award-winning menu with many traditional Irish dishes for you to enjoy.
Cabra Castle, which is situated on 100 acres of parkland and including its very own golf course, offers 105 beautifully-decorated rooms to stay in and two stunning dining areas to enjoy your meals. The hotel caters to large events such as weddings and conferences, and it offers a unique experience for every guest. With golf on-site, countless places to walk and discover, and several horseback riding facilities nearby, you won't be short on things to do.
7 Aikwood Tower - Scotland
Aikwood Tower is a 500-year old structure that was built on lands granted to the Scott family clan by King James V in 1517. It has remained in the Scott family throughout the years. Sir Walter Scott is even a descendent from this Scott family, and his epic poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel featured descriptions of Aikwood Tower.
The tower is a stunning choice for a large family gathering, perhaps for a special occasion like a wedding or reunion. There are 5 gorgeous double bedrooms, sleeping a total of 10 guests, with extra cots and cribs available. With its beautiful landscape and warm communal rooms, Aikwood Tower is by far one of the most luxurious self-catered accommodations in Scotland.
6 Kilkea Castle - Ireland
Kilkea Castle dates back to 1180, when it was built for Walter de Riddlesford, a Norman knight who had arrived in Ireland during the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169. It is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland, and it offers stunning hotel accommodations, exclusive use, and wedding options. The sprawling fort is set on 180 acres of rolling woodlands, including their very own golf course.
This hotel offers three styles of accommodations; stay in one of the 11 richly appointed guest rooms within the castle, one of their newly refurbished Carriage Rooms, or in one of the 3-bedroom self-catering lodges located on the property. Whichever one you choose, you are surely to delight in all this 12th century castle has to offer.
5 Culzean Castle - Scotland
Perched on the cliffs of Scotland's west coast, offering breathtaking views of the Isle of Arran, Culzean Castle never fails to impress visitors. With endless shoreline to explore and 600 acres of Ayrshire's beautiful woodlands surrounding it, Culzean Castle is the perfect location to explore so much of Scotland's history.
The castle offers 6 luxurious rooms individually or the entire castle can be rented for exclusive use. Imagine, your very own castle for the night! The architecture and design inside the castle is stunning, every room showing the masterful talent of the famous Scottish architect Robert Adam, who was commissioned in the 1770s to build Culzean Castle.
4 Ashford Castle - Ireland
Dating back to 1228, Ashford Castle offers guests an unforgettable stay in its majestic medieval fortress. With 83 guest rooms to choose from and a beautiful little Hideaway Cottage, you can select the perfect room for your stay. The Prince of Wales bar is a beautifully-decorated bar whose warm fireplace and cozy furnishings make it the perfect place to enjoy a pint of Guinness.
Enjoy the gourmet food served in the George V Restaurant, play a round of golf, treat yourself to a massage at the on-site spa, or try some horseback riding at the Ashford Equestrian Centre. Whatever you choose, you are sure to remember this stay fondly!
3 Kincraig Castle - Scotland
Kincraig Castle, with its white stone walls and fascinating architecture, looks to be right out of a fairytale. This time, it could be you playing the part of the princess and spending your night in this gorgeous castle. Located in Ross-shire, just 30 minutes north of Inverness, Kincraig overlooks the Cromarty Firth and sits upon 10 acres of mature gardens.
Kincraig is the historic home of the MacKenzie clan, who have lived in this area of Scotland for over 800 years. The castle offers 15 en-suite bedrooms for guests to stay in and two different dining options; the award-winning gourmet Alexander Restaurant or the intimate and casual restaurant The Snug, located in the castle's turret. With countless activities in the area, from archery and golf to museums and boat trips, there is something for every traveller to do.
2 Clontarf Castle - Ireland
Clontarf Castle is the perfect combination of medieval magesty and modern magnificence. The castle's original structure dates back to the 12th century, and its outer walls reflect this deep history. The interior, however, has been restored and transformed into a gorgeous luxury hotel that provides all the comforts for guests.
The sprawling castle offers 111 guest rooms, all of which are built around the 12th century keep, with evidence of its original structure throughout the hotel. There is a wide variety of dining options at Clontarf Castle as well, including the award-winning Fahrenheit Restaurant, the dazzlingly fun Indigo Lounge, the robust Knights Bar, and the charming Fusion Tea, which offers a lovely afternoon tea.
1 Dalhousie Castle - Scotland
Nestled on 11 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Esk, just south of Edinburgh, Dalhousie Castle boasts 800 years of history, having once belonged to the Ramsay Clan and hosted such guests as King Edward I, Sir Walter Scott, and Queen Victoria. The castle offers guest 35 different guest rooms to choose from, all decorated in furnishings fit for a king or queen.
With their very own falconry on the grounds, guests can view a variety of fascinating birds, including owls, eagles, hawks, and of course, falcons. Under the supervision of expert staff, try your hand at archery, one of Scotland's oldest sports. When your day is finished, and you are looking for your evening meal, make it an unforgettable experience by dining in the castle very own Dungeon Restaurant. With award-winning gourmet food served in the castles medieval dungeon, it is an experience you won't soon forget!