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Ireland has long attracted couples in search of romance, whether it’s for honeymoons, anniversaries, or (as one of the closer European countries) just a special long weekend away. From refined dining and world-class shopping in Dublin, to the history and quiet charms of smaller villages, there is something for every type of couple on the Emerald Isle. Here, we’ve hand-picked some of this beautiful country’s most romantic escapes, from grande dame city hotels to seaside retreats away from the hustle and bustle. It’s time for you and your better half to pack your finest Irish-knit sweaters and some mud-proof Wellies—Ireland awaits. Sláinte!
Best Urban Escape: The Merrion Hotel, Dublin
A night or two at this quintessential city hotel is an essential stop upon arrival in Ireland before heading out to greener pastures. Then again, it’s so nice you might be so inclined to take your time—the impeccably warm service is some of the best you’ll experience anywhere.
The hotel also has a stunning collection of 19th and 20th-century European art (one of the best hotel art collections in Europe, in fact), and you can spend hours exploring it with either an audio guide or an in-person tour.
The hotel features two fabulous gardens that recreate the look and feel of 18th-century gardens with box hedges and water features, and offer such peaceful respite that it hardly feels like you’re smack in the heart of one of Europe’s most endearing cities.
Best for Active Couples: K Club, County Kildare
This glorious Irish estate is a bucket list destination for golf fans, but even if you aren’t a golfer, it’s hard not to fall for the property’s sweeping grounds, comfortable rooms, and fascinating history. It was built in 1832, and still contains many of the original desks, drapes, artworks, and antiques. During the daytime, you’ll have an action-packed agenda filled with horseback riding, bracing walks across the grounds, clay shooting and falconry. In the evenings, there are a number of dining options of varying degrees of formality.
Make sure to have a sample some of the craft cocktails at the Vintage Crop bar, like the Minstrel—a potent blend of Tipperary Watershed whiskey with chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, fresh lime juice, and cherry bitters. After an eventful day, you’ll feel like a true aristocrat by the time you retire to your bedchambers: no two rooms are alike, and most offer inspiring views of the nearby River Liffey.
Best Lakefront: Lough Erne Resort, County Enniskillen
For a change of scenery, consider a visit to the Lough Erne Resort, located in the unexpectedly beautiful Fermanagh lakes region. As far as Irish resorts go, this one is a baby (it opened in 2010) — but what it lacks in history it more than makes up for with natural attractions.
There are two fabulous golf courses on the grounds, each filled with challenging features and plenty of local plants and wildlife spotting along the way (mind the pine martens). And if the two of you are comfortable with boats, it’s possible to rent a cruiser and explore various attractions around Lake Erne, including numerous 18th-century estates, Marble Arch Caves, or a quick stop at the endearing Belleek Potter museum. You can even ask the resort to pack you a picnic so the two of you can enjoy a private lunch on the water as you explore.
Best Luxury: Adare Manor, County Limerick
Adare Manor has all the classic fixings of an Irish castle that you would expect—towers, lots of windows, an abundance of fireplaces and chimneys and gargoyles, but it’s the details that set this property apart, and consistently land it at the top of critics’ lists.
Every room comes with impressive marble bathrooms, as well as windows overlooking gorgeous views of the beautifully manicured east grounds. Four on-site restaurants mean you’ll have no shortage of dining options during your stay (we especially love the 132-foot-long Gallery for afternoon tea service), and a Tom Fazio golf course presents a truly refined expression of the sport.
Leave ample time for a visit to the spa, where treatments are inspired by traditional Irish folklore. Forgot your Wellies at home? No worries—the property features an extensive Boot Room where you can borrow waxed jackets and boots for those bracing walks.
Best History: Ashford Castle, County Mayo
Ahh, Ashford, the remote Irish castle from your dreams. The property dates back to the 13th-century Anglo-Normans, and has been successively expanded and renovated over the centuries (you can take a tour that provides all the details), but it was perhaps most notably purchased and expanded by the Guinness family during the Victoria era.
Luckily, there isn’t a drafty hallway or creaky pipe to be found here—thanks to a $50 million renovation by the current owners, the prestigious Red Carnation Hotels, Ashford has been recreated for a new century. Part of the renovation includes a beautiful spa for couples’ massages and a movie room that be reserved for private screenings.
Make the journey to this West Coast gem and you’ll see why it’s long been a favorite for Hollywood elites and jet setters. Over the years, Ashford has hosted President Ronald Reagan, Senator Ted Kennedy, Princess Grace of Monaco, Brad Pitt, and numerous other film stars.
Best for Nature Lovers: Gregans Castle Hotel, the Burren, County Clare
The Burren is one of the most interesting, significant, and mysterious landscapes in all of Ireland—vast, wide expanses of limestone look more like the surface of the moon than the west coast of Ireland. This national park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, as well as human-built stone formations that predate Egypt’s pyramids. In short, if you’re looking for an unexpected part of Ireland to inspire imagination, this is the place to do it.
When J.R.R. Tolkien visited this area to do just that, he was inspired to write The Lord of the Rings—and when he stayed at Gregans Castle Hotel, he no doubt took full advantage of the many fireplaces, quiet writing nooks, and unpretentious atmosphere. If it’s peace and quiet the two of you are after, then this is the hotel for your Irish escape—there aren’t televisions in any of the rooms, and the only noises you’ll hear at night are peaceful winds blowing over the landscape.