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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!
The Merrion Hotel, Dublin
It’s hard to find a more elegant place in Dublin than this renowned hotel in the heart of the city center, which has played host to high profile guests like Barack Obama. The afternoon tea service is often called one of the country’s best, and this hotel is a particularly good match for art lovers—it has the largest private collection of 19th- and 20th-century art in all of Ireland. Sign up for one of the illuminating guided tours, or go at your own pace and explore the hotel’s storied halls on your own.
K Club, Kildare
The rolling hills just outside Dublin are home to some of Ireland’s most discerning hotels, and K Club leads the way. The stately property stands proudly on the banks of the River Liffey, where guests can go fishing or for long, bracing walks along the water. The mature estate boasts an impressive 550 acres and features not one but two Arnold Palmer Championship Golf Courses.
Ballyfin Demesne, County Laois
The Downton Abbey vibes are strong at this opulent estate. At just 90 minutes from Dublin, this impeccably-restored Regency country house has a long and colorful history of catering to the country’s elite—as well as a sweeping 614-acre estate that offers skeet shooting, horseback riding, fishing, and archery. But don’t be fooled by the hotel’s outsize reputation—with only 20 guest rooms on site, there’s no shortage of intimacy and privacy.
Cliff House Hotel, County Waterford
As it turns out, there is such thing as a beach hotel in Ireland! Indeed, it’s hard to find a more unique property than this stunning, unusual hotel built into the edge of a cliff overlooking Ardmore Bay. While it might not reach peak sunbathing temperatures during your stay, there is still much to enjoy given the hotel’s direct access to the sea, from kayaking and surfing to whale watching and long strolls along the famous Cliff Walk. And with only 39 rooms, the two of you will pretty much be guaranteed privacy during your stay.
Clare Island Lighthouse
Not only does Ireland have a beach hotel—it has an island escape as well! And what could be more romantic than running off to a faraway island with your other half? Located off the west coast, Clare is a mountainous little island with just 145 permanent residents. While its namesake quirky hotel might not have all the bells and whistles of larger mainland properties, it offers a charm and singularity you won’t find anywhere else—there aren’t many 200 year-old decommissioned lighthouses that also serve as cozy, secluded guesthouses.
Ashford Castle, County Mayo
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of this recently-renovated castle just outside Galway in the village of Cong, County Mayo. With parts of the premises dating back to the 13th century, there’s no shortage of (ghost) stories and history to explore. And thanks to that costly renovation, there isn’t a faulty socket or drafty room in the place—a tall feat for such an ancient Irish castle.
Hayfield Manor, Cork
Cork is often called Ireland’s culinary capital, and there is no better or more tranquil place to experience the city’s culinary offerings than in this understated yet stylish manor house. Set on two acres of mature trees, each of the property’s 88 rooms is individually decorated—which means you and your significant other can request “your room” should you decide to visit this romantic enclave again.
Gregans Castle Hotel, the Burren, County Clare
The Burren is known as one of the most interesting and significant landscapes in all of Ireland. Vast, wide expanses of limestone look more akin to the surface of the moon than to the west coast of Ireland, and this national park is home to a rich variety of wildlife, as well as human-built stone formations that predate Egypt’s pyramids. When J.R.R. Tolkien visited this area, 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 and the unpretentious atmosphere. Today, Gregans Castle is a regional leader in ecotourism, making sure the Burren stays pristine for generations to come. It’s a hotel truly for nature lovers—there aren’t even televisions in any of the rooms, so guests are encouraged to fall asleep to the enchanting sounds of the environment.