Bushmills Inn Rating: 4.0 Pearls

The quaint Bushmills Inn in Antrim is quintessentially Irish in every respect: There are fireplaces burning peat or wood throughout the property, a fantastic restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine, Irish music performed certain nights at the Gas Bar, which is lit by traditional gaslight, and 41 cozy, cottage-style rooms. The inn has a rich history dating back to 1608, when a coach house and stables stood here, and the actual main inn building dates to the 1820s; the historic character has been carefully and thoughtfully preserved throughout. Views of the river are marred by the parking lot sitting right in front of it, but most guests are impressed enough by the inn's warmth and coziness that they find little to complain about.

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Get in the St. Patty's Spirit: 9 Hotels That Will Make You Fall in Love with Ireland (3 of 9)

 The quaint Bushmills Inn in Antrim is quintessentially Irish in every respect: There are fireplaces burning peat or wood throughout the property, a fantastic restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine, Irish music performed certain nights at the Gas Bar, which is lit by traditional gaslight, and 41 cozy, cottage-style rooms. The inn has a rich history dating back to 1608, when a coach house and stables stood here, and the actual main inn building dates to the 1820s; the historic character has been carefully and thoughtfully preserved throughout. Views of the river are marred by the parking lot sitting right in front of it, but most guests are impressed enough by the inn's warmth and coziness that they find little to complain about.
People tend to go a little crazy on St. Patty's day; most of us are familiar with the crowded parades, green rivers, and drunken revelry. And it's understandable why so many get excited about their love for  Ireland, which is deservedly famous for its dramatic green cliffs, roaring peat fires, lively pubs, and welcoming locals. Ranging from historic castles to modern boutiques, these nine hotels are packed with Irish charm and may help inspire your next trip -- or at least help get you in the St. Patty's spirit.
First up, Ballynahinch Castle Hotel. The 40-room Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is a less formal, more accessible alternative to the more famous Ashford Castle to the east. It has a riverfront location amid the wild, unspoiled beauty of Connemara and decor that's alternately homey and elegant. It's more of a manor house than a castle, but the main structure dates to the 18th century and both the building and the estate are steeped in history. The 450-acre grounds offer a range of activities, including beautiful hikes, woodcock shooting, and fishing. Both restaurants serve terrific gourmet cuisine using fish, game, and mushrooms from the surrounding region. The Merrion is Dublin's most exclusive luxury hotel, and has a convenient location across from the Government buildings in four 18th-century townhouses. It has fewer rooms than the nearby Shelbourne and feels more intimate and private, though its list of features is still extensive: The hotel has a full-service spa, lovely Roman-style indoor pool, and well-equipped fitness center. The impressive restaurant offering includes Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, the only restaurant in Ireland to receive two Michelin stars, as well as the casual and atmospheric Cellar Bar, housed in the original 18th century wine vaults. It's true that some rooms have unremarkable views of other buildings, the gym is a bit small, and not all rooms have iPod docks, but most will find little fault with this five-pearl gem. The quaint Bushmills Inn in Antrim is quintessentially Irish in every respect: There are fireplaces burning peat or wood throughout the property, a fantastic restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine, Irish music performed certain nights at the Gas Bar, which is lit by traditional gaslight, and 41 cozy, cottage-style rooms. The inn has a rich history dating back to 1608, when a coach house and stables stood here, and the actual main inn building dates to the 1820s; the historic character has been carefully and thoughtfully preserved throughout. Views of the river are marred by the parking lot sitting right in front of it, but most guests are impressed enough by the inn's warmth and coziness that they find little to complain about. Ashford Castle embodies the fantasy of the Irish castle hotel, featuring a massive historic stone facade, complete with towers and turrets; gorgeous, manicured grounds; a stunning setting on a huge lake; and common spaces that are truly grand, with rich wood paneling, chandeliers, and antique furniture. After such magnificence, the rooms can be a bit of a letdown. They still retain elements of their original elegance, but some have frumpy style and need renovations. George V Dining Room offers excellent, formal fine dining (jackets are required in the evening), and drinks and tea can be enjoyed in the graceful drawing room with lake views. The wide range of estate activities includes falconry lessons, boat tours on the lake, golf on the 9-hole course, clay shooting, and archery. Sheen Falls Lodge is arguably the top hotel in County Kerry. The 300-acre estate belonged to the Marquess of Landsowne in the 18th century, and the hotel -- opened in 1991 -- feels like a country manor house. It has a stunning setting on both Kenmare Bay and Sheen River, which has, as the name suggests, gentle tumbling waterfalls. The 66 rooms have classic country decor -- crown molding, cheerful prints (plaids and florals among them, in moderation), and soft yellow walls; all but one have water views. Estate activities range from clay pigeon shooting to fishing to tennis, and more traditional luxury hotel features include a lovely indoor pool, spa, and small fitness center. Formal fine dining is offered at La Cascade restaurant, while (slightly) less expensive dishes are served at the classy Restaurant Lounge. The sommelier hosts daily tastings in the wine cellar. This intimate, 40-room boutique is one of Galway's best upscale options, and has charm to spare, with a historic stone exterior and bold, quirky interior. There are few features to speak of -- no fitness center, spa services, or dedicated meeting rooms -- but the convenient location near the Spanish Arch and the heart of the Latin Quarter is ideal for sightseeing. Rooms have bright, stylish contemporary decor and upscale bathrooms with towel warmers and rainfall showerheads. The restaurant is a local hot spot and serves modern Irish cuisine. The 265-room Shelbourne, built in 1824, is one of Dublin's best-known luxury icons, with a grand entrance right on St. Stephen's Green and an impressive roster of famous past guests (Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts, and Liam Neeson have all stayed here, to name a few). Rooms have elegant traditional decor, though some are quite small and standard Queen Rooms lack bathtubs. Still, the ornate common spaces, hot spot bars and dining venues, luxury spa, and historic cachet combine to make this one of Dublin's premier options. Only The Merrion can compare. The 182-room River Lee is one of the top luxury hotels in Cork, and is part of the upscale Doyle Collection mini-chain. Contemporary, understated decor, a restaurant and bar that are among the city's best, a small trendy spa, and an impressive fitness center and indoor pool (run by an outside company) define the experience. Though some may find the style of the hotel a bit generic, extras such as warm towels at check-in and heated floors in the bathrooms put this a cut above a typical four-pearl property. The location is just outside the city center, but within walking distance of both the English Market and the shopping hub of St. Patrick's Street. The Schoolhouse is a charming, historic hotel located in the leafy Ballsbridge neighborhood. The building housed a school from 1859 through 1969, and underwent a restoration in 1997 that preserved its historic character. The result is a traditional, cozy boutique hotel unlike any other in Dublin. All rooms are named after a famous Irish writer and have classic decor including floral prints and antiques. The architecture of the hotel is most striking in the restaurant and bar, which share a beamed cathedral ceiling. The quiet location, excellent food, and history of this hotel make it one of Dublin's best affordable picks.
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