While some castle hotels can feel a bit dusty—with all those heavy curtains and canopy beds—the Lough Eske Castle Hotel feels more airy and contemporary than you’d expect from a 150-year-old castle. Located near Donegal Town in the northern part of Ireland, it’s the only five-star hotel in Donegal County. And while the Elizabethan manor house was once at the center of a farm, today it’s fronted by a formal rose garden and surrounded by 43 acres of forest on the banks of Lough Eske, a 900-acre lake.
The hotel has a glass greenhouse-style spa, an indoor pool with views of the grounds, and a restaurant, Cedars Grill, which serves fresh-from-the-sea oysters and filets of Irish beef. But best of all is the lovely, generous staff: Concierges in particular quickly arrive at a first-name basis with guests as they arrange outings and grant even somewhat-annoying requests. And since all guests do here is spa, stroll, and feast, the only real challenge is deciphering the staff’s thick Northern Irish accents.