Garden lovers’ getaways: 10 top places to stay around Ireland
In summer, a hotel’s outdoor space is just as important as what’s on the inside
The parterre at Bantry House
A well-maintained garden is a joy to behold in summer. When planning a holiday when the warmer months are stretching out before us, a hotel’s outdoor space becomes just as important – if not more so – than what’s on offer on the inside.
With this in mind, we have rounded up 10 of the best country homes, hotels and B&Bs around Ireland that also have stunning gardens attached. Some are open to day visitors, too.
Bantry House and Garden
Co Cork, bantryhouse.com
Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, overlooking Bantry Bay, this stately house has been home to the White family since 1765, and opened to the public in 1946. Visitors can explore the house and formal gardens, have tea in the tearoom, or stay overnight in the east wing. The gardens were created by Richard White, the second earl of Bantry. Seven terraces complement the bay, which the house overlooks. The gardens fell into neglect from the 1930s on, but were fully restored to their former glory in 1997. The parterre, with a fountain at its centre, is currently filled with tulips the owners planted in winter, while wisteria dominates the southern aspect of the house. White was a keen traveller and collected many pots and statues from around the world, which can be seen at the north terraces. Facing east, the statue of Diana the Huntress greets visitors.
B&B from €179 for two people sharing. It costs €6 to visit the gardens as a day guest, and there’s also a lovely tea room for light refreshments
Co Galway, cashelhouse.ie
This house in the heart of Connemara has had a long history of owners who were passionate gardeners, clearly evident in its 50 acres of outdoor space and woodland walks. Overlooking Cashel Bay, Cashel House was built for captain Thomas Hazell, an English landowner, in 1840. The rose hedge that he is said to have given to his wife as a gift for their 40th wedding anniversary still thrives today. Keen botanist and TD Jim O’Mara later owned the house, and turned the orchard field into a walled garden. There is an enormous collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias planted around the property that he collected from all over the world. The current owners, the McEvilly family, happily bring guests on a tour of the extensive gardens, including the Secret Garden. The dining room overlooks the gardens and serves food prepared with fresh fruit and vegetables grown just outside the window, fertilised by seaweed from the beach nearby.
B&B from €75 per person sharing
Co Carlow, kilgraneyhouse.com
This Georgian country house, overlooking the Barrow valley in Bagnalstown on the Carlow-Kilkenny border, is surrounded by extensive gardens planted with the owner’s favourite herbs, some of which are common and easily recognised, while others are less familiar. The granite stone courtyard is filled with culinary and medicinal plants, which are often used in preparing food for guests. There are guided tours daily, and this year they’ve introduced a series of open Sundays, offering visitors a history of the property, an overview of the garden’s design and an insight into how the many herbs are grown and used for cooking and remedies, with a selection of herbal teas to try at the end of the talk.
B&B from €85 per person sharing. The gardens are open from 2pm, with guided tours at 3pm. Entrance fee is €5
Liss Ard Estate
Co Cork, lissardestate.ie
Protected by acres of greenery, Liss Ard Estate, just outside Skibbereen in west Cork, is set on 200 acres of lush countryside, dotted with woodlands, gardens, wildflower meadows, trails, ponds and a private 50 acre lake. It is also home to the Sky Garden, one of just two such gardens in the world designed by renowned American “land art” sculptor James Turrell. Shaped like a crater, the Sky Garden gives visitors a unique opportunity to view the sky either by day or night. Liss Ard offers a variety of accommodation options, including the Victorian Country House, the adjacent Garden Mews, and the Liss Ard Lake Lodge, a Victorian Dower house.
B&B from €72.50 per person sharing. The Sky Garden is open to non-residents from May 20th, noon-5pm, €5 per person
Co Laois, castledurrow.com
The aptly named Flower family, later known as Viscounts Ashbrook, started the gardens at Castle Durrow 300 years ago. After the Ashbrook family left, the gardens fell into disrepair, until the Castle was taken over by Shelly and Peter Stokes in 2000. After a lengthy restoration, there are now 50 acres of lush lawns, green parkland, forest, colourful borders, a river and orchards. There is a sunken garden with a canal, a Victorian Grotto, and a pleasure garden. The chef handpicks produce from the kitchen garden every day to use in the restaurant. Residents can enjoy a pre-dinner drink on the terrace overlooking the gardens.
Dinner, B&B from €250 per couple. Garden tours with refreshments/light lunch cost €9.50/€19.50
Co Wexford, marlfieldhouse.com
Set on 40 acres of woodland with rose, vegetable and herb gardens, lawns and an ornamental lake, Marlfield House in Gorey is a haven for horticulturalists. Run by the Bowe family, this 1840s regency house has peacocks, hens, dogs and ponies meandering around the enclosed gardens. There is a micro-climate feel to the gardens as they are so enclosed, with roses, camellias, rhododendrons and hydrangeas surrounded by shrubbery and trees. Due to the many different seating areas and little nooks and crannies throughout the gardens, guests will always find a peaceful spot to enjoy to themselves during their stay. The restaurant is very much a garden-to-plate experience, using fresh herbs such as basil and coriander, vegetables and fruit grown on the estate, to accompany the wild salmon, spring lamb, Bannow Bay oysters and Wexford mussels sourced in the surrounding area.
B&B from €126 per person sharing
Co Mayo, enniscoe.com
The gardens at the classical Georgian Enniscoe House are hidden among the woods at the foot of Mount Nephin. Garden enthusiasts will love its pastures, woodlands with lakeside walks, pleasure grounds and carefully restored Victorian gardens. The Enniscoe Estate has been in the Kellett family since the 1650s, with the house dating from the 1790s. The owners still have receipts from plants, shrubs and trees bought in the 1870s. There’s an ornamental garden laid out in a late Victorian/Edwardian style, with many fine architectural features restored under the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme. In the restaurant, a huge emphasis is placed on locally sourced food, much of it from the estate’s walled market gardens.
B&B from €90 per person sharing
Co Fermanagh, nationaltrust.org.uk/crom
On the shores of the Upper Lough Erne, Crom Castle is set within a 1,900-acre estate. Part of it is private, but the lands owned by the National Trust are open to the public. Crom is home to a large portion of Ireland’s remaining native broad-leaved woodland and wet grasslands, which teem with wildflowers, bees, butterflies, moths and dragonflies. Lough Erne itself provides ample opportunity to spot herons and otters, from a rented boat or canoe available to hire. While much of the castle is off limits, groups of up to 13 can stay in the west wing (price on request). Meals can be provided at an additional cost. There’s also a campsite with glamping pods to rent, and seven self-catering cottages.
Entrance to the grounds and visitor centre costs £6.50 per adult
Co Monaghan, hiltonpark.ie
Hilton Park has been home to the Madden family for almost 300 years. The exterior includes a walled kitchen garden, historic herb garden, herbaceous border and a parterre. The house overlooks the parterre and the plains of the pleasure grounds to Hilton Lough, with its canal and Lovers’ Walk. The family received a grant in 1994 to renovate the pleasure grounds and rose garden, and replant the parterre, which had been laid out in 1870 by Ninian Niven, probably the best known landscape designer of his time. Hilton is also famous for its very tall oaks, planted in 1752 to commemorate the marriage of an ancestor to Anne Cope, who brought acorns from her family home at Loughgall. The current owners – the eighth generation of the Hilton family to live in the house – now grow unusual vegetables and fruits, as well as herbs, for their guests to enjoy at dinner.
B&B from €210 per room
Co Wicklow, mountushergardens.ie
The world-famous gardens at Mount Usher in Ashford have been open to the public since the 1960s. First planted in the 1880s by Horace Walpole in the wild, romantic Robinsonianstyle, the gardens cover 22 acres. They now include a distinguished collection of more than 5,000 plants, originating from India, China, North and South America, and including Rhododendrons, Magnolia, Eucalyptus, Maple, Camellia, Cupressus, Pinus, Notrafagus and Cornus, to name a few. In response to regular requests for places to stay, the owners of Mount Usher House now offer two large double rooms, with views of the gardens and the River Vartry. The house is also available as a venue for select events.
Bookings can be made through Airbnb or email firstname.lastname@example.org. B&B from €88 to €150. Entrance to the gardens costs €8 per adult