From the Beatles to U2, sleep on an operatic scale with Irish hotels steeped in music history

There are plenty of spots where you can revel in a rocking atmosphere, whatever the era you’re after

Some hotels are steeped in history, mystery and romance. Many are awash with golf, but still more ring with the sound of music. Sixty years ago this year, John Lennon and George Harrison of The Beatles decided to get away from it all. Seeking somewhere off the beaten track they, opted for an Easter minibreak at Dromoland Castle.

That year, 1964, would prove to be action-packed for the Fab Four. They took their first trip to the United States, where they held the top five spots in the singles chart simultaneously. They also made their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, and hung out with the likes of Bob Dylan and Cassius Clay – before he changed his name to Muhammad Ali. So what brought them to Co Clare?

Quite simply, they were looking for some peace and quiet. Dromoland, which had only recently opened at the time, had a reputation for discretion. When Lennon and his wife Cynthia and Harrison and his future wife Pattie Boyd set off from Heathrow, the men were disguised with moustaches, glasses and hats. The cover-ups worked, and they arrived in Ireland pretty much under the radar.

That, of course, didn’t last. When news of their stay leaked out, they grabbed the swords from the suits of armour that graced the front hall, and delighted the media with a mock fight and a quick game of croquet. By the time they checked out, after five more-or-less peaceful days, the gates were scrummed by fans and photographers. Lennon and Harrison braved the throng, while their partners dressed themselves up as chambermaids and were smuggled out in a laundry basket.


The atmosphere at Dromoland remains deliciously peaceful and relaxing, but these days no one could call it stuffy, and it’s still a thrill to see those suits of armour in the hall. The swords are there too, but they’re now attached with wires, just in case you had plans to recreate a moment in music history. Back in 1964, B&B at Dromoland would have set you back a princely IR£5, plus 25 shillings for dinner. Sixty years on, prices start at €387 at

Lennon returned to Ireland again for refuge: when he came back in 1968, it was with Yoko Ono. The couple stayed at Sligo’s Mulranny Park Hotel, and gave guests a thrill with an impromptu pre-release blast of Revolution in the hotel bar. The beds have long since been changed, but B&B at the Mulranny Park starts at €129, or from €209 for the Lennon Deluxe Room, at

Ratchet it up another notch at the Amsterdam Hilton’s Presidential Suite, also known as Room 702, where Lennon and Ono held one of their bed-ins protesting the Vietnam War. Rooms are priced from €205, to at least €2,000 for the famed suite, depending on dates, at

Lennon and Ono made a point of inviting the media into their Amsterdam room, but today’s rock stars choose hotels that are so discreet you’re unlikely to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of your heroes. Still, there are plenty of spots where you can sleep with music history, or revel in a rocking atmosphere, whatever the era you’re after.

The classical past

Fans of Bruce Springsteen, hanging about the front steps of the Merrion Hotel last year, were gifted with occasional sightings of The Boss as he came and went from his Dublin base. But, gallop back more than 250 years, and Mornington House, now the Merrion’s main building, was at the epicentre of music in Ireland. Garrett Wesley, the 1st Earl of Mornington was a musical prodigy, who composed all manner of things – from glees to an opera. He held influential musical soirées in the Merrion’s grand salons and went on to set up the Musical Academy, whose performances funded charitable causes. He also became the first Professor of Music at Trinity College Dublin. Stay at the Merrion from €425 per room, and you never know, a rock star or two may be in residence while you’re there: AC/DC, Garth Brooks and Rihanna have all been there before you. See for more information.

You can get more music history at Kildare’s Carton House, where the gorgeous gold salon has a curiosity in the corner. A marvel of its day, the water organ was powered by a stream that used to run under the house. The mechanics are still in place, although it is not currently in use. On the grounds of Carton, Shell Cottage is also worth a peer through the windows. It needs a bit of TLC since its 1990s heydays when singer Marianne Faithfull lived there, but you can just imagine the parties. From €260 per room, see

Another hotel crossing musical eras and genres is east Cork’s Castlemartyr. It gained a whiff of notoriety when Kanye West and Kim Kardashian chose it as a stop off on their 2014 Irish honeymoon (they also graced the elegant saloons of Ballyfin in Co Laois, and Limerick’s Castle Oliver). Springsteen has stayed too, but from May 27th to June 3rd, it’s all about opera, as the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival comes to near-neighbours Lismore. You’ll get B&B, dinner, premium opera tickets to Handel’s Giulio Cesare, plus a nice glass of champagne in the grounds of Lismore Castle, from €659 for two, see

Rock gods and gorgeous gaffs

Co Monaghan’s Castle Leslie has had more than its fair share of music legends roaming its halls. It leapt to international fame when another Beatle, Paul McCartney, married Heather Mills there in 2002, with a mega guest list including Ringo Starr, Chrissie Hynde and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, but its music pedigree is of much longer standing. The late Castle owner Desmond Leslie, who was married to singer Agness Bernelle, was also into experimental music, and designed the world’s first effective multitrack sound mixing desk, which he had built by Rupert Neve in the 1950s. One of Ireland’s first nightclubs was at Castle Leslie, and although they don’t kiss and tell, guests have included Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull; Enya filmed a new year show live at the Castle; and piano sensation Jamie Duffy was house pianist – which kept things in the family, as his granny had once DJ-ed at the nightclub back in the 1960s. B&B at Castle Leslie starts at €185, see

Liss Ard in west Cork comes complete with a fascinating back story involving underground tunnels, Swiss gold and a retired spy, but it is also known for hosting gold-standard music stars too, from its glory days as home to one of Ireland’s first boutique music festivals. From Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Lou Reed and Van Morrison, to Oasis and members of U2, Liss Ard has been a music haven and a hideaway. It has had a swish makeover in recent times, but it’s still pretty blissful. A vinyl record player in the cocktail bar (excellent cocktails too) keeps the party vibe alive. From €170 per room, see

Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel is another hostelry of choice for touring musicians. In the hotel’s 200 years of operation, it has hosted plenty of luminaries. Luciano Pavarotti practised his arias here, and the Rolling Stones stayed back in 1993 while in town to record Voodoo Lounge. Proving the suites accommodate all tastes, Michael Bublé also slept over, serenading occupants of the lounge after his concert in 2018. Sometimes music myth and legends cross over with different histories. While some say The Chieftains were formed at Seán Ó Riada’s suggestion in the Shelbourne’s Horseshoe Bar after a session, others credit it to Garech Browne, co-founder of Claddagh Records, after another epic session at his Co Wicklow home of Luggala. Shelbourne rooms are priced from €400, see

When U2′s Bono and The Edge bought The Clarence Hotel with businessman and hotelier Paddy McKillen Sr back in 1992, many came hoping for a celebrity sighting or two. While they were famously discreet, in the early days of its Kitchen nightclub, the VIP section was peppered with the great, the good and the colourful. U2 themselves were more seldom seen, but the hotel featured on the BBC’s Top of the Pops in 2000, when the band gave a live performance of Beautiful Day from the rooftop. Last year, Bono and The Edge sold their share to the Dean Hotel Group, so while it’s still rock-star cool, you’re even less likely to spot the lads from the band. From €135 per room, see

Pilgrimage places and photo opportunities

Some hotels are on pilgrimage routes for fans because of famous or notorious events in particular rooms. New York’s Chelsea Hotel and the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles have to be among the most well known.

In its seedy salad days, the Chelsea Hotel was home to musicians including Nico, Tom Waits, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Jeff Beck, Iggy Pop, Bob Marley, Edith Piaf, Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Johnny Thunders ... the list goes on and on. Leonard Cohen immortalised his encounter with Janis Joplin there in his song Chelsea Hotel #2, while on the tragic side, Nancy Spungen, partner of the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious died at the hotel in 1978. The Chelsea had a makeover in 2022, which many would argue has diluted the pleasures of its formerly gritty authenticity. The cocktail bar and restaurant are very swish and still hopping however. From $333 (€310) per room, see

On the other side of the States, the Chateau Marmont always prided itself on being the spot where celebrities stayed to avoid being seen. Residents have included Anthony Kiedis, Courtney Love, David Bowie, and Lana Del Rey; and it has rocked up in songs by The Grateful Dead, Lily Allen and Miley Cyrus, while Jarvis Cocker made a concept album, Room 29 inspired by the place. It has also featured on film in La La Land, and the Lady Gaga version of A Star is Born. Plans to turn it into a members-only spot were withdrawn in 2022, so you can stay in one of its ultra charming cottages from $727, or a more prosaic, but still braggable room from $541, see

More about the memorabilia, the Hard Rock chain of hotels provides a rock-adjacent experience around the world. The Dublin version includes guitars and other items once owned by the likes of Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Phil Lynott. The rooms are pretty snazzy too, there are Fender guitars available to borrow (plus amp and headphones), or you can borrow from the hotel’s vinyl collection, and they promise to whip up a playlist to your taste. Their Can’t Stop the Spring offer gives you B&B and a cocktail midweek from €199 for two, see