Use of nearby fitness center for free; in-room massages available on request
Limited seating in the restaurant (guests recommend making reservations)
The 19-room Waterford Castle Hotel is a beautifully restored medieval castle set on a picturesque private island reached by a free ferry that takes two minutes. An array of sports and activities -- golf and tennis, nature walks, clay-pigeon shooting, and picnics -- can make for a special stay. Rooms are pleasant, but the bespoke bathrooms really shine. Don't expect any cutting-edge technology (it might break the spell of stepping back into the Middle Ages), but there's free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and flat-screen TVs in the rooms. The property underwent refurbishment in 2015, including the restoration of the castle exterior and several antique elements.
Meticulously restored medieval castle with added Victoriana
Few properties evoke the sense of traveling back in time as the Waterford Castle Hotel. From its first incarnation as an early Norman keep to its 19th-century expansion, this imposing ivy-clad hotel -- complete with turrets, arrowslits, and battlements -- feels every inch the fairy-tale castle of yore. Through a beautifully carved wooden entrance, the medieval spell continues into the high-ceilinged lobby with its ancient tapestries, stone arches, and a magnificent centerpiece fireplace. Further into the hotel, the ambience becomes more stately home, with refined antique furnishings, oil-paint portraits, and various Victoriana. Mullioned windows look out over the hotel's expansive and picturesque grounds, with views extending to the surrounding river, woodlands, and golf course.
Private island location in picturesque southeast Ireland
The Waterford Castel Hotel is situated on its own private island on the River Suir in southeast Ireland. Access is via a free ferry service from the edge of Waterford City, which takes only a couple of minutes. It's a two- to three-hour drive from Dublin, just under two hours from Cork. Those keen to explore beyond the island can find fine beaches and picturesque villages on the coast about a 20-minute drive away.
The 19 rooms are neatly arranged with largely traditional decor, antique-style furnishings, and tasseled drapery. Rooms are light on in-room technology, though free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs are provided, focusing more on traditional features such as turndown service, crisp linens, and free tea and coffee delivery. The real treat is the beautiful bathrooms with Victorian-style porcelain basins, free-standing claw-foot tubs, and Mulvenna toiletries, as well as heated towel rails and hairdryers. Modern self-catering apartments are also available within a few minutes' walk from the castle, with three to four bedrooms, kitchens, and living area with gas fire.
The hotel's island is a veritable playground for sports and other activities, from its 18-hole golf course to clay-pigeon target shooting, archery, tennis, and croquet. More sedate pastimes include nature and wildlife walks around the island with a picnic basket prepared by the head chef. The Munster Room restaurant is renowned for excellent dining, serving a seasonal menu in typically stately surrounds. The Fitzgerland Room is an elegant bar area where guests can take afternoon tea or unwind with a drink in front of an open fire. The King's Channel Clubhouse serves an informal dining menu from a lodge-like space overlooking the first tee of the golf course. There's also an arcade game room, and barbecue grills.
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