Nadia got the full royal experience at the gorgeous Co Clare hotel.
Picture the scene: A horse and hound greeting as you drive up a long and winding road to an old castle. You’re ushered in to the smell and warmth of roaring open fires and staff who treat you as if you’re old friends. You’re in a building that’s hundreds of years old, in lush surroundings and luxurious interiors, yet there are no airs and graces. You’ve just imagined Dromoland Castle, Co Clare.
After a warm welcome, we settled in for Mrs White’s afternoon tea before getting started on the activities. I for one love an activity and the 450-acre site makes the perfect playground. Of course, if you prefer to chill you can visit the spa or relax on one of the cosy sofas dotted around the property. I was ready to meet the owls and hawks though, and try my hand at clay pigeon shooting and archery. The falconry experience was a first for me, and after some initial apprehension, I became fascinated with the birds of prey, their speed and elegance. After a little chat about the Owl Theory from The Staircase, we hopped in a Land Rover and head up to shoot some arrows and flying targets with shotguns. Perfect if you’re competitive, especially great for groups. You could go horse riding, or play tennis, take a picnic and go for a hike, try fishing for trout in Dromoland Lough or take a pony and trap ride around the estate. The grounds share the same designer as the Gardens of Versailles, they’re pretty impressive!
While the castle dates back to the 16th century, they’ve somehow managed to integrate the most modern luxuries seamlessly. Bedrooms are plush, with up-to-date tech and glam bathrooms to get ready for dinner and drinks. The octagonal cocktail bar overlooks the lawns and serves a mean espresso martini if you’re in need of a little pick me up a er all of the afternoon activities. Or, try a Salty Dog – Gunpowder Irish gin and fresh grapefruit juice, served with a salted rim before dinner.
Dromoland’s decadent fine dining restaurant the Earl of Thomond is literally draped
in silk (wallpaper) and chandeliers, gorgeous for a special occasion with an excellent wine list, with prices to match. Or if you’re in the mood for comfort food, try the bangers and mash, fish and chips or Irish lamb stew in the Gallery for a more casual evening.
The next morning on enquiry at the boat house, expecting to have to book in for a tour of the lough, we were handed life jackets and let loose for an hour on the water. Everything and everyone is so laid back at Dromoland, you get the feeling anything is possible if you just ask. I popped into the spa before hitting the road for a soak in the outdoor jacuzzi, the perfect end to a gorgeous stay. The quality is reflected in the price tag, but like anything, you get what you pay for.
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