Destination Unknown: Feeling like Royalty in Ireland, Weekend Break in a Castle
At the time I lived in Ireland, almost ten years ago, I remember hearing time and time again how Ireland had more sheep than people inhabiting the small island. If you also look at the amount of castles there are, you could think that the natives all lived in castles. Nice thought, which is quickly crushed when you arrive in Dublin and face the buzz of the city, tightly nestled buildings full of daily life.
Once outside the city boundaries, in the midst of the rolling hills or bogland, you will find those castles dotting the countryside though. According to various sources there are about four hundred castles or ruins around, and these are prominent in the scenery that passes by on a drive through the country.
I mentioned previously how this autumn I’d be exploring Ireland in a camper van. And so I did. But our little adventure also included a weekend stay in a castle in the small village of Durrow to celebrate the wedding of an old friend. Even though the castle might have not looked like your average Cinderella castle we did feel like a royalty. Kind of. To accommodate for various budgets, At Castle Durrow Country House Hotel you can choose to stay in the main buidling or in the barn, and you can probably guess where we ended up. In the barn.
I’ve been talking a lot about firsts here in Skimbaco and our stay at the Castle Durrow goes in that category too. This was my first stay in a castle, and the experience joins the likes of learning to make pasta and trying out surfing this year.
Weekend Break at the Durrow Castle, Ireland
What I liked about the stay at the Castle was the feeling of relaxed luxury. Despite the lush surroundings full of history, you can arrive dressed casually, ready for a stroll on the grounds or longer 22-kilometre Leafy Loops Walk around Durrow. Besides, clay pigeon shooting and archery can be organised at the Castle grounds on a few days notice and there are possibilities for golfers, canoeists and hikers in the vicinity of the Castle. While some of these activities are fairly foreign to me, I did love the hiking opportunities around the Castle and talking about firsts, maybe I should go back and try my hand at clay pigeon shooting!
As mentioned earlier, there a various options for accommodation ranging from De Luxe Bedrooms to Family Rooms and to the Castle Yard Rooms (or the barn, as I called it) to suit various budgets and tastes. With special offers, a Midweek Pamper Dinner Package or a 1-Night Weekend Break with Dinner package go for for 210€ (approximately $270) for two, hence the stay at the Castle doesn’t have to be any more expensive than a night in a quality hotel with an excellent dinner. We paid 90€ ($115) for the Castle Yard Room during the wedding.
One of the highlights of the stay for me was the praised breakfast. An ample buffet had everything from healthy fruit salads to fresh pastries and local cheeses full of taste, without forgetting the freshly cooked Irish breakfast. And after, it was easy to sink into one of the deep, comfortable couches on the hallway, and admire the details of the beautiful decor.
While on my travels I often stay in more “outdoorsy” accommodation, I have to admit that the possibility to combine the luxury of a stay in a castle to the activities outside was a delicious one. One that I would gladly do again!
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