The Best Resort Hotels in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2016

Ashford Castle
Photo: Courtesy of Ashford Castle

“Peaceful yet majestic” is how one Travel + Leisure reader described Ashford Castle. Indeed, the hotel sits on 350 quiet, scenic acres fronting a lake in western Ireland. But it also has a grand presence — the castle dates back to the early 13th century, and has been added to many times over the years. Today it is an 83-room escape from the modern world, furnished in baronial style with gilded mirrors, four-poster beds, and velvet upholstery. Add to that a wealth of activities, from tennis to falconry, and attentive service, and it’s clear why our readers named Ashford Castle the best resort hotel in the United Kingdom and Ireland. 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 lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated hotels on their rooms and facilities, location, service, food and drink, and overall value. Properties were categorized as city or resort based on their locations, not on the features of any individual hotel. Each of the top properties in England, Ireland, and Scotland has a place in the history books — or, at least, was built to appear as if it does — and offer guests the opportunity to feel like the lord (or lady) of the estate. Among them is Inverlochy Castle, a 19th-century mansion in Scotland’s western highlands that once hosted Queen Victoria, and Cliveden House, an English country estate that entertained Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin. Said one T+L reader, “With beautiful period furnishings and full direction by the National Trust, this hotel represents a step back in time that is seldom found in this day and age.” Other hotels, such as Gleneagles, in Perthshire, Scotland, were built in the style of another century, but for modern times. Throughout this 1924 property, you’ll find regal touches like freestanding marble baths, heavy drapery, and grand fireplaces — as well as more modern amenities such as fully stocked mini-bars, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs. Seeking a unique countryside escape? Far away from the pressures of modernization, each of these properties embraces its country’s heritage while also delivering a luxurious hotel experience.

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No. 5: Inverlochy Castle, Torlundy, Scotland

Inverlochy Castle
Courtesy of Inverlochy Castle

Score: 93.00

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No. 4: Cliveden House, Taplow, England

Cliveden House
Courtesy of Cliveden House

Score: 93.87

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No. 3: Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, County Clare, Ireland

Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg
Courtesy of Trump International Golf Links and Hotel

Score: 94.06

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No. 2: Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland

Gleneagles Hotel
Courtesy of Gleneagles Hotel

Score: 95.08

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No. 1: Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

Ashford Castle
Courtesy of Ashford Castle

Score: 95.84

The U.K. and Ireland's castles have long enticed travelers with their architecture and histories. This year, Ashford Castle, set on 350 acres on the shores of Lough Corrib, is the crown jewel of them all. The circa-1228 structure recently underwent a $75 million renovation that restored its stonework and brought in a billiards room, a cigar terrace, a movie theater, and an indoor pool. Ashford Castle’s signature features remain, including its sumptuous interiors, Waterford crystal chandeliers, and afternoon tea — which guests can enjoy after a lesson at Ireland’s oldest falconry school.

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