The 54-room, upscale Ballygally Castle is a romantic hotel occupying the only 17th-century building still in use as a residence in Northern Ireland. The castle comes with a (friendly) resident ghost, and oozes character and charm alongside modern conveniences. Guest rooms are clean, spacious, and contemporary, with luxe modern bathrooms and iPod docks. With views of gorgeous landscaped gardens and the Irish Sea, the castle also has an excellent restaurant, a famed afternoon tea, and "Game of Thrones"-themed activities -- the hit show is filmed in many locations throughout the area.
Seventeenth-century character with modern conveniences -- and possibly a ghost!
Ballygally Castle is a former castle dating from the 17th century, complete with turrets, stone walls, and a friendly, but eerie, resident ghost with her own room, accessible via a spiral stone stairway. The castle is filled with atmosphere and charm. Guests approach the castle via the coastal drive, with the Irish Sea on one side, and a stone wall on the other. Once inside, the vibe combines contemporary luxury and classical castle ambience, with heavy iron and wood doorways, walls that can be up to five-feet thick, spiral staircases, and plush purple sofas and armchairs arranged around cozy fireplaces. Management has a sense of humor, and there are a variety of clever features around the buildings, including by the modern elevator, where the thick, wooden doorframe reads “Rising Room.” The Garden Restaurant has a high peaked ceiling, stone fireplace, wooden floors, and an iron chandelier; a full suit of armor stands guard by the hostess desk. The walls are hung with vintage travel posters in the bar, where cozy pink and purple velvet seating beckons. The castle is a popular local wedding (and wake) venue, with a high-ceilinged ballroom that has period millwork and tartan curtains plus views of the sea, and presumably Scotland, out the windows. The grounds are peaceful and beautifully maintained, with large stretches of green lawns, pathways for strolling, flower gardens, a small island accessible via footbridge -- there's even a trout stream. Ballygally Castle is an experience to be remembered for the couples, families, and groups of friends who visit.
By the beach, overlooking the Irish Sea, with easy access to central Ballygally
Ballygally Castle is located right on the Antrim Coast, overlooking the Irish Sea. The hotel sits on the Causeway Coastal Route, the major sightseeing thoroughfare for the region, and is the only hotel in the area. Directly across the road from the hotel's grounds is a sandy beach, and the immediate area includes private homes and the village of Ballygally, but little nightlife. There are plenty of outdoor activities and tourist attractions nearby, however, including the Nine Glens of Antrim and the Giant’s Causeway, located within a 90-minute drive. Larne Center and the Port of Larne Ferry Terminal are a 10-minute drive from the castle. Cairndhu Golf Course is about one-and-a-half miles away, as is Carnfunnock Country Park, which is great for walkers and runners. Central Belfast is 35 minutes away by car. Ballygally Castle is in a great spot for exploring the area, including the popular "Game of Thrones" locations -- the show is filmed throughout the area. Belfast and Belfast Airport are about 40 minutes away by car.
Rooms at Ballygally Castle are spacious and spotlessly clean, as well as being sophisticated and cozy. Many have sea views; those that don’t overlook the hotel’s beautifully manicured gardens. Rooms come in a variety of sizes and categories, but all have large, contemporary marble or tile bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs, and rubber duckies along with heated towel racks (but little shelf space). Tower Rooms are located in the original castle building, and have exposed rafters and walls that are up to five feet thick. These are the oldest continuously inhabited rooms in Northern Ireland, but they have been updated and modernized to retain all of the character, without the wear and tear of centuries. The hotel has a special Ghost Room that is reported to be inhabited by Lady Isabella Shaw, a former castle resident. The most basic Superior Rooms have beige carpeted floors, mauve and beige walls, warm wood armoires and nightstands, and purple tones on beds and curtains. Standard amenities include large, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs with pay movies, iPod docks and radios, welcome trays with coffee/tea facilities, and handy shoe care and sewing kits. Connecting rooms are available upon request.
Gourmet restaurant, Grand Sunday buffet, high tea, and "Game of Thrones"-themed events
Ballygally Castle has an excellent restaurant serving a modern British menu. The chef cooks with locally sourced produce, and offers a nightly table d’hotel menu as well as a la carte options. There is a breakfast buffet, for a surcharge, that includes a traditional Irish fry-up, as well as plenty of other delicious options. On Sundays, the Ballygally serves a Grand Buffet in the ballroom; this weekly feast is popular with both hotel guests and locals. The hotel also serves traditional afternoon tea. In addition to regular tea, there is a "Game of Thrones"-themed tea that includes items like Hodor’s Pulled Pork Brioche and Kingslayer Cupcakes. Tours to local "Game of Thrones" locations are available by arrangement with the concierge. There is a lobby bar and lounge with a welcoming fireplace, where guests can order off a bistro menu throughout the day. Electric bikes are available for rent from the front desk, and drivers with electric cars can use the charging station in the free parking lot. Wi-Fi is only free in the hotel's reception area.
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