With its lanes of thatched-roof, old-Irish bungalows fronted by flowering gardens, lovely little Adare is beloved by a certain subset of Irish grannies as the prettiest village in Ireland. It’s easy to see why: An hour south of Shannon Airport on the river Maigue, the town has charm to spare (although it’s quite touristy these days). Adare’s crown jewel is east of the town center, where the 19th-century Adare Manor lies with its pergola-covered stone walls, turrets, and gables on 840 acres of manicured gardens and wild woodlands.
Designed in grand Gothic Revival style and completed in 1862, the manor took 30 years to build—and provided valuable industry for villagers during the potato famine years. Inside, it’s a castle with some quirks: 365 stained-glass windows and 52 chimneys, for instance, for each day and week of the year. Rooms have four-poster or carved-mahogany beds, sitting areas, and semi-chintzy drapes.
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Right on the edge of historic Adare village, the hotel is 20 minutes from Limerick, a 190,000-person city, and a half-hour from Shannon Airport. In the town itself, tour a heritage cottage-turned-museum and visit an abbey, a friary, a park, sweet and craft stores—and, of course, a few pubs.
Need to Know
Rooms: 62 rooms, 1 suite. From $350. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The formal restaurant, the Oakroom, has big windows that overlook the grounds and serves Irish smoked salmon and dishes like wild-garlic-crusted lamb, while the Carriage House is where golfers lunch on club sandwiches and roast Irish chicken. Have afternoon tea or an evening cocktail in any of the cozy sitting rooms; late-night, go to the basement bar, the Tack Room, for live Irish music. Spa and gym details: In a stand-alone stone building, the Lavender Cottage spa administers facials and massages using Darphin and Elemis products. A small fitness area, steam room, and indoor pool are open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Who’s it for: Those who want a country-style castle experience without being terribly secluded. Our favorite rooms: Stay in the manor home (rather than the modern addition) and try to get a high-floor room with views of the golf course. Go for green: Adare Manor Hotel’s championship 18-hole golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, draws golfers from all over the world. Book early to secure good deals.