The 5 Best Resorts in the U.K. and Ireland

The best resorts in the U.K. and Ireland, according to Travel + Leisure readers, can be found in bucolic countryside settings.

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Book a room at a British or Irish resort hotel and you're getting more than just a place to bunk down for the night. As often as not, you're investing in a fantasy of the good life, a unique window into history, a vision of hospitality and its potential. Chances are you'll also get to hang around with one or two birds of prey.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels (including safari lodges) were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city hotel, resort, or safari lodge based on their locations and amenities.

A guest room with a canopy bed at Ashford Castle
Courtesy of Ashford Castle/The Red Carnation Hotel Collection

Ireland once again takes the mantle, claiming four of readers' favorites. One voter described No. 4 Adare Manor as "heaven," which makes sense given its setting on 840 acres of verdant countryside. (It's also home to the Oak Room, County Limerick's first Michelin-starred restaurant.) Another voter, who called Ballyfin (No. 2) "otherworldly," may have felt transported to another era between the estate's Regency mansion and extensive grounds, which include several types of gardens. But gracious hospitality wasn't overlooked by readers either — in fact, it's what made No. 5 Dromoland Castle stand out to a third voter, who appreciated how "we were treated like beloved family."

Scotland's honoree is the enduringly popular Gleneagles, set on the edge of the majestic Highlands. "It has a confident, undeniably strong sense of place," contributed one reader. "Scottish with a worldly point of view."

Still, it was Ashford Castle — a storied Irish estate — that earned the highest plaudits. Read on to find out more.

1. Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

Pool at Ashford Castle
Courtesy of Ashford Castle/The Red Carnation Hotel Collection

The 800-year-old castle — built by an Anglo-Norman family in 1228 — draws a prestigious clientele that has included British royalty and U.S. presidents. Several readers praised the stately grounds, calling the setting "absolutely lovely" and "magnificent." One particularly enthusiastic reader looked back fondly, saying, "Just writing this makes me remember the beautifully served and delicious tea service, complete with Irish scones, mini sandwiches, and sweets enjoyed by the bay windows overlooking gorgeously manicured lawns and fountains."

Score: 95.51

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2. Ballyfin, County Laois, Ireland

Aerial view of Ballyfin hotel
Courtesy of Ballyfin

Score: 95.50

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3. Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Scotland

Sitting area in a guest suite at Gleneagles hotel
Courtesy of Gleneagles

Score: 95.09

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4. Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland

Exterior of Adare Manor
Courtesy of Adare Manor

Score: 93.97

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5. Dromoland Castle, County Clare, Ireland

Two suits of armor guard the reception area at the Dromoland Castle
Courtesy of Dromoland Castle

Score: 93.70

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