This Irish Castle Is One of the Best Hotels in the World, According to T+L Readers

The stunning estate is basically the size of NYC's Central Park.

Exterior grounds view of Adare Manor during spring

Vanessa Wilkins/Travel + Leisure

Step into Adare Manor in southern Ireland and you'll feel as if you've entered a fairytale. Built in the 1800s, the former home of the Earl of Dunraven is now a luxury hotel and golf resort. It has become a crown jewel of Ireland's hospitality — the regal retreat seamlessly blends its rich history with modern amenities.

Last spring, I journeyed to Ireland's County Limerick — about a two-hour drive from Dublin — to see for myself what makes this hotel one of the best in the world. (Adare Manor just made the T+L 500 list, which details the best 500 hotels in the world, according to Travel + Leisure readers.)

As I drove up to Adare Manor, I was instantly blown away by the sheer magnitude of the building. The neo-Gothic architecture is striking, with dove-gray limestone stretching as far as the eye can see and gargoyles on the roof peering over the grounds. There are quirky accents all around the façade of the building, including 365 stained-glass windows and 52 chimneys.

Vanessa Wilkins sitting in the gardens of Adare Manor on a blue sky sunny day

Vanessa Wilkins/Travel + Leisure

Inside the estate, the bold architecture is balanced out by warm and inviting lounge décor. Major restorations transformed the manor into a contemporary luxury haven while still honoring its 19th-century history through unique furnishings and original artwork.

Plush sofas, custom tapestries, and marble white bathrooms elevate each of the 104 individually designed guest rooms. And, if you’re as lucky as I was, your room will have a view of the gorgeous formal French gardens outside the window.

Additional highlights from the property’s restoration include a grand ballroom, a movie theater, and a state-of-the-art spa. There's also an infinity pool, steam room, and sauna on-site.

The on-site activities are plentiful, but not overwhelmingly so. One moment I was living out my Bridgerton fantasies during an elegant afternoon tea at The Gallery, where I sipped on Champagne and a signature tea blend. The next, I was off to a falconry demonstration, where I met Adare’s falcons, eagles, and the most adorable Scops owl — appropriately named “Tiny.”

Our instructor raised the stakes, suiting me up in a brown leather gauntlet for a free-fly experience. At her signal, a Harris hawk soared over from a nearby tree, landing on my arm with a dramatic span of its wings. All of this happened within my first three hours at Adare. “Where am I?” I thought to myself incredulously. 

Vanessa Wilkins with an owl

Vanessa Wilkins/Travel + Leisure

Even walking the grounds of the property is an adventure. After all, the massive estate spans 842 acres. (To put things in perspective, that's just an acre shy of the size of New York City's Central Park.) Guests can also traverse the property on bikes provided by Adare or arrange for a horse-and-carriage tour.

Adare Manor's staff was just as special as the hotel. Every member shared a genuine love for their craft and the property — it was both palpable and infectious.

There’s Gerry O’Halloran, the energetic manager of The Padel Club, who encouraged me to try a padel lesson. (Padel is a racket sport that is a mix between tennis and squash.) His enthusiasm for the sport motivated me to try my hand at something I’d never done before. And even though I gave myself a two out of 10 on performance, I still had fun trying to play.

Willie Forde, the manager of Adare Country Pursuits, showed off an award-worthy gundog demonstration with his adorable Irish labradors, Midnight and Shadow. And finally, there was Brendan O’Connor, Adare’s general manager, who explained that the staff’s expertise and passion are the winning combination that set Adare Manor apart from the rest. “Our goal is to be the best at what we do,” he told me.

Vanessa Wilkins with groundsman and dog and a plated dinner with meat and spinach

Vanessa Wilkins/Travel + Leisure

The fine-dining restaurant, The Oak Room, is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Limerick. For my meal, chef Mike Tweedie created an exquisite seasonal menu that highlighted Irish ingredients like hand-dived scallops, beef and oxtail sourced from Dublin-based Higgins Family Butchers, and wine pairings to accompany every course.

View of whiskey flight from Adare Manor

Vanessa Wilkins/Travel + Leisure

A short walk from the manor is the more casual Carriage House. And for drinks, there is no better place to be than The Tack Room. Tucked away on the basement level of the resort behind an unassuming wooden door, it is Adare’s own speakeasy-style bar. Guests and local visitors can imbibe on wine, bespoke cocktails, or a pour from their expansive whiskey library. Some bottles are so rare they are kept under lock and key. 

Here, I enjoyed a private whiskey tasting led by Tommie Doyle, the resort’s whiskey ambassador. (Yes, that is his actual title.) Doyle fervently walked me through the history of the “water of life.” He seamlessly wove personal anecdotes and historical facts into his presentation and ended the session with a tasting of four of the finest Irish whiskeys from The Tack Room’s collection.

“There is no wrong way to enjoy whiskey,” Doyle advised, waving away all the fussiness that comes with some tastings. “Just enjoy it however you like, however it feels right, and that is right.” 

Nightly rates start at $830. To learn more about Adare Manor or to book your stay, head over to

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