There are over 30,000 castles and ruins that cover the beautiful country of Ireland. Some small and quaint, others massive and grand. Many are tour sites that take you throughout the rooms and several allow for self guided roaming. Some you can host weddings in and it’s becoming more common to stay overnight (even in the self-claimed haunted ones!). Once Hayden heard that it was possible to sleep in a castle, there was no discussion. This went directly on the “must-do” list. You can imagine how the price ranges quite a bit and I’m sure you can also imagine what this did to my “backpacking mind”. I’m used to sharing meals in order to save on waste and hitch hiking to avoid costly cab rides and now… now my travel partner wants to stay in a castle!? Thankfully it’s true. Without him, I would not experience some of the things we’ve done and for that I’m grateful.
After much research, we narrowed it down to the gorgeous Kinnitty Castle Hotel located at the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Offaly. The price was right considering we got a 4 course dinner, full breakfast, an over night stay and a complementary bottle of sparkling wine all for less than your average New York city accommodation.
How do you get to this wonderful palace? You can take a bus to the edge of the city and then catch a cab into the villge where the castle sits. Or there’s our choice, rent a car and stop wherever and whenever you want to!
Hayden and I teamed up as driver and navigator. I gave clear instructions as he focused on keeping us on the left side of the road (opposite to America). Success! We stopped a few places a long the way like this adorable fresh fruit stand. I think it’s a great idea to support local businesses that are driven to provide a quality product! I went for some blackberries. Delicious.
After a 3 hour drive leaving Dublin, we finally arrived to our accommodation made of gothic architecture in the middle of this open green pasture. From the road it looks like the setting from a fairytale, including the horses that greeted me when I jumped out for a photo!
We made it! Judging from my face, I’m not excited at all.
Like several of my recent posts, photos have been speaking for themselves. Lets just look around!
My personal favorite was this court yard. It’s primarily used for wedding receptions but we used it as a breath of fresh air with some great photo opportunities.
Our room made me feel like an old fashion princess… Well, excluding the available running hot water, electric fan, alarm clock and television mounted on the wall. So, ignore those things and it’s like we were really back in the 1800’s!
After we checked in and snooped around, it was time for our 4 course dinner. (Way beyond my typical dining). On the menu were options like steak, fish, pasta and a few other quality dishes. All of them of course topped with some type of fancy nut-crusted, herb infused sauce to make it more appealing. Each table was served a platter of grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes along side a bread basket. Dessert gave a list from sorbet’s to cheesecake and delicate chocolates.
The morning began with an Irish breakfast that consisted of several options. People love variety so you can imagine how well suited it was to find porridge, fruit, natural yogurt, meat, cheese, a variety of breads, granola, cereal, eggs cooked to your style, sausage, bacon, smoked salmon, juice, milk, coffee and tea.
Saying goodbye to our room was yet another bitter-sweet. Who would want to leave a castle? Maybe two backpackers ready to see a different county! Farewell Kinnity Castle, it’s time for a new adventure.
We were in no hurry to get back to Dublin, so we decided to check out several of the villages along the way. Here are some snap shots from the road!
The last bed and breakfast we stayed in was a home called Heatherview ran by Maura and Jim. We were there in order to rest and freshin up over night before our early morning flight and it was perfect! A sweet spot, welcoming hosts and a tasty breakfast sent us on our way. Thanks Jim for your “special ingredient” in my Irish porridge!
Backpack on, rental car returned and tickets in hand… Scotland, here we come!
Would you rather spend a year living 200 years in the past or the future?
Brings back memories! In September, 1999, we took our last road trip through southwest Ireland, using recommendations from Karen Brown’s lodging book for Ireland. This was before internet and cell phones were popular, so we used a booking agency to make our life easier. We stayed at a lot of B&Bs (best were in Galway and Kinsale), a working farm, a B&B in the middle-of-nowhere with a deep jet-soaking tub and bubblebath (causing the tub to overflow :)), and a castle. What I remember most was that the castle was waaay too cold for our cold-blooded selves. Great memories!