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10 Best Hotels in Ireland – Donegal, Cork, Killarney

This guide will help you find the best hotel deals in Ireland. We have gathered only the choice hotels and have ranked them according based on aggregated hotel reviews.

Rathmullan is called a “house” because it’s exactly that – just a very huge and grand variety. This old country house, surrounded by its very own rose garden, was built near the shores of Lough Swilly nearly 200 years ago. The surroundings areas of the house are good enough reason for you to stay here: seven acres of beautifully-tended grounds coupled with a two mile long sandy beach. Inside, the Rathmullan House has high ceilings, marble fireplaces and beautiful proportions that reminds of the great Georgian period.

This four-star hotel is made up of 34 well-designed and individually decorated bedrooms. The bathrooms are excellent as well, with some rooms having free standing tubs to accentuate the homey aura. Recently, they have expanded with 10 larger rooms in a new wing to accommodate more guests. They also added a small self-contained conference room. These recent developments cost over 3 million Euros.

Facilities include two outdoor tennis courts, a 15-meter heated indoor swimming pool, a steam room, and their very own spa called Solace Body & Soul Treatments. Nearby is the historical village and port of Rathmullan – home to a number of shops, pubs and restaurants. Rathmullan beach is also worth a visit. There are a variety of water sports available to be enjoyed along with the usual fishing and good swim.

Rathmullan House is also famous for its Weeping Elm restaurant, which serves fresh produce, fresh fish and sumptuous Donegal lamb dishes. The restaurant, surrounded by its very own walled garden, was designed by the late Irish Architect Liam McCormick. Their head chef Ian Orr was picked from the River Café in London. Also, there’s the less expensive Celler Bar (found in the basement) and Batt’s Bar for those not in the mood for heavy meals.

Perhaps the most unique element of Rathmullan House is their relatively recent addition: the Doggie Rooms. Dogs are very welcome here. If you rent this special superior room, you’re not only renting a room for yourself but a room for your dog as well – complete with its own bed and toys (and pooper-scoopers). Aside from their own living space, dogs are free to roam around the surrounding beach and gardens through their own patio door.

We appreciate that not everyone has a fondness for dogs and some can be nervous of them, so our only rule is that dogs are not allowed to roam around the hotel or lounges. They have their own access to their room and have plenty of green grass & outdoor area to run about in.

Unlike other luxurious accommodations, the atmosphere in the Rathmullan House is much like home, and the friendly staff makes sure of that. That is why they are the most recent recipient of the Country House of the Year:

“Donegal has an other-worldiness that is increasingly hard to capture in the traditional family holiday areas, and the laid-back charm of Rathmullan House somehow symbolises that special sense of place,” says Ireland guidemaker Georgina Campell.

Donegal holidays should be spent in Rathmullan House and nowhere else.

5 star Hayfield Manor is known to be the ultimate in luxury. People consider it as close to perfect as a hotel can be. Large bedrooms are filled with beautiful antiques and exquisite fabrics. Each individually styled marble bathroom is supplied with Molton Brown toileteries. They have five kinds of rooms to choose from. Just pick the one that best suits your needs. The more expensive room has all the features of the less expensive one:

Deluxe Rooms – relaxation area with armchairs, heated tower rails, work desk with hi-speed internet, and soft drinks.

Executive Suites – own living room with three piece suite, a marble fireplace, steam showers or jacuzzi baths, and overlooking view of the gardens.

Master Suite Bedroom – private dining on antique table with 24 hour butler service, full bar, separate his (steam power shower) and hers (deep jacuzzi bath) bathroom, separate drawing room, canopies, plush textiles, silk drapery, and overlooking view of Cork City.

Hayfield also takes pride in their special junior guest features: mini bathrobes, cookies & milk for bedtime, children’s menus in both Orchids Restaurant and Perrotts Garden Bistro, children’s afternoon tea, babysitting facilities, and special baby pack.

As for their spa treatment, they have what they call the Beautique. This resident-exclusive spa is in partnership with Elemis Day Spa. Once you enter the Beautique, you are already treated to the fragrant aroma of essential oils. They have 9 individually designed treatment rooms. Aside from that, they have a relaxation room that overlooks the indoor heated pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, and a steam room.

For fine dining, the Orchids Restaurant serves the best contemporary Irish cuisine in a hall that overlooks the Manor’s private gardens. The food is prepared by award winning Head Chef Graeme Campbell. While in the conservatory area is Perrotts Garden Bistro, a more casual and relaxed alternative that serves Mediterranean and international cuisine.

Outside the Manor is the beautiful city of Cork, one of Ireland’s larger cities. Aside from numerous traditional Irish pubs, modern cocktail bars and international restaurants, Cork is also home to a number of art galleries and museums. Then there’s the Jameson Old Midleton Distillery in East Cork that offers an interesting tour that shows how world famous Irish whiskey is made. If you want to bask in the sun, you can enjoy the white sands of Inchadoney Beach, or surf the waves of Ballycotton, or even feast on a fresh catch from Bantry Bay. Also, not to miss are their annual events – The Jazz Festival, Cork Arts Fest, and the Film Festival.

If you plan on going to Cork, then stay at the Hayfield Manor. Just be sure that you have enough Euros, because the luxury doesn’t come without a price.

Arbutus Hotel, which is located just a short walk away from the Killarney bus station, is one of the less expensive hotels in this exclusive list. But that doesn’t mean it lacks in value. Owned and managed by the same doting family since 1926, Arbutus is the piece de resistance of Killarney’s Buckley family.

“We, the Buckley family, are very proud of The Arbutus Hotel and its heritage,” says Sean Buckley. “We may have modernized some of the hotel facilities but the welcome is as warm as it’s ever been. We look forward to seeing you.”

Although officially a 3 star hotel, Arbutus possesses elegance that bests even 4 star accommodations. Each bedroom is individually decorated with high standard furnishings; some even retain the original style from the 1920s – way back when the Arbutus wasstill known as Killarney Hotel. Rooms are grouped into Superior, Deluxe, and Suite.

To keep with the homey atmosphere, the hotel’s resident cook is none other than Norrie Buckley herself. Buckley’s bar menu offers casual meals, including Norrie’s famous rice pudding and chicken paté. The recipes are a mix of traditional Irish and international cooking.

Arbutus Hotel is in a central location for a Killarney getaway. The hotel is only minutes away from some of Ireland’s best golf courses. The nearest one is Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, a 3 courser located right in the town proper. Other courses within driving distance are the Ring of Kerry Golf Club in Kenmare, Beaufort Golf Club, Dooks Golf Club in Killorglin and Waterville Golf Club.

You can also come to Dingle Harbour and visit, or better yet swim with, their resident dolphin, Fungi. This male dolphin plays within a small area at the tip of Dingle Harbour, and has been doing so since 1984. It is thought that he lives in a small cave under the cliffs nearby. He comes out early at dawn and stays outside until late into the night.

Other activities to enjoy in Kerry include bike riding, swimming, sailing, sea fishing, fly fishing, and climbing – all of which are just within your grasp.