Ireland’s colourful history has led to a rich tapestry of architectural styles, with Norman castles and neo-classical mansions sitting side by side with cosy farmhouses and contemporary wonders. All around the island, these interesting, charming accommodations are packed with character -- and characters! So in the spirit of turning your Ireland trip into a real journey, here are some of the most memorable places to stay along the way.
Cullintra House, Inistiogue, County Kilkenny
The Cullintra House, a cosy,
19th-century home in the Kilkenny heritage village of Inistiogue, offers a warm
welcome – but you will soon discover you are not the house’s most important
guest. Here cats are king, and the owner’s feline friends quite literally have
the run of the place. You will find cat memorabilia galore and little furries
in the bedrooms, in the dining room where guests eat communally and rambling
the gorgeous grounds, like they – quite rightly – own the place.
Grouse Lodge, Roesmount, County Westmeath
Grouse Lodge, the
rambling stone farmhouse and beautiful outbuildings that act as a residential
recording studio for Irish and visiting bands, became Michael Jackson’s secret
hideout for six weeks in 2006. REM, Shirley Bassey, Manic Street Preachers and
Sinead O’Connor have all recorded in this reasonably-priced midlands village property,
complete with an indoor heated pool, jacuzzi, nine double bedrooms and an on-site
organic chef. Come for the rock ‘n’ roll stories, retold in the small hours at
the on-site pub.
Number 25 Eustace Street, Dublin
You could easily pass Number 25 Eustace Street
in Dublin’s cobbled Temple Bar area without realising the treasure that lies
within. The 18th-century merchant’s house sleeps seven, was carefully restored
using authentic materials and furnishings, and is available to rent on a
nightly basis. Climb the creaky stairs to the drawing room where you can play
the Bechstein boudoir piano, or lounge in the rolltop free-standing bath and
imagine what life was like as a Georgian city slicker.
The Schoolhouse, Annaghmore, County Sligo
little schoolhouse, built in the 1860s
on the wooded banks of the Owenmore river, now sleeps four but was once the
schoolroom and two-bedroom house of the schoolmaster. It still has the original
school fireplace, chalk boards and coat hooks, and legend has it that the last
owner buried all of his money in a tin on the school grounds.
Number 31, Leeson Close, Dublin
Little has changed since the days when every visiting celebrity from Henry
Kissinger to Ted Kennedy dropped in to Number 31’s
sunken lounge for a martini. Iconic Irish architect Sam Stephenson’s
1960s home and party pad has kilim rugs, a big open fire, mirrored cocktail bar
and floor-to-ceiling windows that look onto an inner Japanese garden, all evoking
the heady decade that once made this discreet guesthouse a magnet for Dublin’s
Gyreum, Castlebaldwin, County Sligo
If you want to reinvigorate your soul and get back to nature, it does not get
much more earthy than a trip to Gyreum,
a wind- and solar-powered eco retreat in a colossal yurt-like timber temple
with a living wildflower roof, sunk into the hills of Sligo. Many come for its Pilgrim’s
Progress six-county walking
tour that culminates in a full moon-lit hot tub soak, but either way, it is
an inspirational space to take part in a range of creative and eco-centred
events. Built on a ley line, stay in one of Gyreum’s inner tents, break bread
at the great communal table and absorb some of Mother Earth’s free energy.
Inisturkbeg, Clew Bay, County Mayo
If you cannot afford your own island, why not stay on someone else’s? Inisturkbeg is a luxury island retreat in the
extraordinary setting of Clew Bay in County Mayo, overlooking the ancient
Croagh Patrick mountain. Inisturkbeg offers five island “cottages”, with an infinity
pool, gym and spa, access to a private chef and butler, and use of the
retreat’s horses or catamaran for a scenic spin round the tiny ancient island.
The article 'Ireland’s unusual places to stay' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.