To celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary we wanted a special getaway, especially when staying within Ireland. When John came across Waterford Castle I didn’t know much about it, and so had no real expectations before we stayed. It turned out to be one of the most unique and romantic stays I’ve ever had in Ireland. Imagine, a 16th century castle,located on a 310-acre private island….what’s not to love!
It was roughly a 1.5 hour drive from Cork. To get to the castle, it is only accessible by their private car ferry, as the castle is located on its own island. To my surprise this car ferry operates 24 hours a day – so you can arrive whenever you wish. It only takes a few short minutes to get across, and is free of charge,and it was an exciting taste of what was to come – pure blissful seclusion!
We stayed at the end of June, and the weather was spectacular, which made exploring the island a dream. For those of you who are interested in golf, the 18-hole par 72 Des Smyth designed course, is ranked in the top 30 parkland courses in Ireland by Golf Ireland.
The approach to the castle entrance was like a fairytale, it would seem it still has all of its original grandeur and character. The reception area was equally impressive with its huge stone fireplace. We were assigned the “Hurst” room , which had original cast iron windows set in granite stone overlooking the castles entrance and gardens. The bathroom had an original feature bathtub and toilet, it certainly felt like taking a step back in time, all the while retaining its beauty.
After check-in it was time to explore and take in the splendor of the Island’s parklands, forest and wildlife. We did a circle around the island, which I think totaled approx 8km. It was a beautiful evening so it was easy to keep going being surrounded by such beauty. Within minutes of starting our walk we saw a wild deer, grazing in the woodland, and plenty swans and other birds down by the waterfront. I recommend walking at least as far as the small lighthouse! There are maps available at reception with different island trails to choose from. There are lots of other activities on offer, falconry, clay pigeon shooting, and if you let them know in advance they will even organise and prepare a picnic basket for you to enjoy on the grounds. On our walk back to the room to get ready for dinner the sun was starting to go down, and looking at the castle and gardens ahead of us it honestly reminded me of a scene from Pride & Prejudice!
Our dinner was part of our package, a 3 course meal in The Munster Room restaurant, overlooking the water.Critically acclaimed in the Michelin Guide,awarded Fine Dining Hotel of the Year 2019 by Irish Hotel Awards, and two AA rosettes, it did not disappoint! The breakfast menu was also exquisite, one of the best I’ve ever seen, not just a typical hotel buffet breakfast, but rather a buffet selection along with a full made to order menu with the likes of Eggs Florentine, Benedict, & Pancakes on offer, all included in the rate.
The following day the castle was setting up for a wedding – it looked absolutely amazing, and what a place for a wedding! You can have exclusive use of the entire castle and its 19 bedrooms for your wedding for what I consider a very reasonable price considering that covers 19 guest rooms. The bride and groom get a complimentary stay in the Presidential Suite which looks just out of this world!
The castle is small, but can accommodate more guests in the Lodges. They have 45 Lodges in total.
If you are planning a romantic trip for two, I would highly recommend you stay in a castle room though as opposed to the lodges because its such a unique feel to stay in a castle!
Located 90 minutes from either Dublin or Cork airport
Located 10 minutes from Waterford City
Price: Prices vary from €158 per night to €500 depending on room type and time of year. Try to book a mid week stay for best value – Waterford Castle website frequently has good value offers for castle rooms including dinner.
Keep an eye out for deals which are often featured on LivingSocial.ie
Good Bits: Scenic 16th century castle, huge array of activities,the food, the exquisite room fit for a princess!
Bad Bits: I absolutely could not fault it, the bad bit was having to leave!
Tips: As they offer a range of activies such as Archery, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Falconry – I would strongly recommend booking these activities in advance. The picnic for example needs to be booked 24 hours in advance.
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