By Peter Terzian
July 10, 2019
Courtesy of Dromoland Castle

There are travelers who shrug at the prospect of staying at a balmy beachside hideaway, a flower-carpeted rainforest lodge, or the latest stylish high-rise hotel. For these folks, it’s a castle or nothing. Give them misty mornings, polished paneling, and brass door knockers. And of course, England, Scotland, and Ireland have no shortage of these regal retreats.

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 were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

Related: The World's Best Awards 2019

Seven of the properties on this year’s top 10 list can be found in Ireland. “A lovely hotel with an abundance of character and history,” wrote one reader of Dromoland Castle (No. 7), an 1835 building with appropriately castellated towers in County Clare. Another voter called it “a dream getaway with fabulous activities on site. Our kids loved the pedal go-karts and still talk about them a year on.” Set in the remote, atmospheric Connemara region — a “beautiful woodland setting,” said one reader — Ballynahinch (No. 6) is “very romantic, with a tinge of rustic.”

One reader deemed Adare Manor, a 19th-century charmer in County Limerick at the No. 4 spot, “one of my favorite places in my entire life.” As the fan gushed, “the staff conducts service with pristine grace, kindness, and warmth. It was such a joy and comfort that I changed my plans so that I could stay there longer.” Another reader’s description of Ashford Castle (No. 3), a sublime pile once owned by the Guinness family, sums up the appeal of the enchanted structure succinctly, likening to it to “a comfortable cocoon.”

To see the full list — and which storied property won this year’s top accolade — continue reading.

Cliveden House, Berkshire, England

Courtesy of Cliveden House

Score: 90.88

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Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Torlundy, Scotland

Courtesy of Inverlochy Castle

Score: 91.24

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Ballymaloe House, County Cork, Ireland

Courtesy of Ballymaloe House

Score: 91.37

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Dromoland Castle, County Clare, Ireland

Courtesy of Dromoland Castle

Score: 91.48

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Ballynahinch Castle Hotel & Estate, Connemara, Ireland

Barry Murphy/Courtesy of Ballynahinch Castle

Score: 91.88

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Sheen Falls Lodge, County Kerry, Ireland

Barry Murphy/Courtesy of Sheen Falls Lodge

Score: 92.00

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Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland

Paul Lehane/Courtesy of Adare Manor

Score: 92.20

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Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Score: 92.98

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Gleneagles, Perthshire, Scotland

Nick Ballón

Score: 94.00

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Ballyfin, County Laois, Ireland

Courtesy of Ballyfin

Score: 95.16

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A short drive from Dublin, this early-19th-century former estate retains its No. 1 spot for the third year in a row. The rooms really do make you feel as though you’re stepping back in time, with canopied beds, period antiques, and curved windows that overlook the gardens. But that doesn’t mean that Ballyfin is stuck in the past. The spa and gym are sleek and modern, and the cuisine reflects a 21st-century philosophy of fresh ingredients and healthy eating.

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.