Living in a castle, if only for a fleeting moment has long been a dream of mine and one I recently got to fulfill at the Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin. The 4-star hotel offers the all the modern conveniences of a luxury property built while embracing its history as a 12th century keep.
Clontarf Castle Hotel is about ten minutes drive from the city centre of Dublin in the quiet coastal suburb of Clontarf. There is no mistaking the castle as you pass the gate house and pull up in front of the impressive building. Both the exterior and interior you’ll find a clever architectural marriage of old and new.
Colourful banners hang next to a gorgeous juliet balcony on a towering stone wall beside a grand open fireplace in the foyer. Below, a seating area decorated with contemporary tables and chairs in rich purple, pink and silver hues is an example of the substantial recent investment made in bespoke design featuring throughout the hotel.
The location, the history and the extensive facilities the hotel offers makes it a popular venue for conferences and weddings. Thankfully though, it doesn’t have the vapid feel that some business hotels unfortunately achieve. The hotel’s design means that in many ways it still feels like a boutique hotel. As you explore, you discover cosy corners for reading by a fireplace, lounges for a quiet Fusion Tea and that’s all before you reach the bars, restaurants or the Great Hall.
We stayed in a Deluxe Room which was surprisingly very well sized and even included an corner nook that was the ideal spot for a checking emails over a morning coffee. The regal purples and rich pink and green tones used throughout gave the room a modern but very cosy feel. Although you’re in a medieval castle, all of the features you would expect in a luxury hotel are at your fingertips like a laptop friendly safe, wifi, cable TV and a music library.
Each of the suites at the hotel were uniquely designed and decorated with respect for the space and the building’s history. My favourite spot was the conservatory style space off the living area in one of the suites. It was bathed in sunlight with a view of from the highest point in the hotel.
The Fahrenheit Grill is where we started our days, dining on the breakfast buffet. Pulling up a plush red velvet chair to a view of the castle gardens through a beautiful bay window was a perfectly peaceful way to begin our days. The buffet includes local Irish produce from salmon to cured meats and fresh fruit and yoghurt. Warming eggs or porridge to order with all the trimmings you’d expect from an Irish breakfast like sausages and bacon. The restaurant is a popular dinner spot with locals and guests alike, recently awarded their second AA Rosette for culinary excellence.
There are two bars at Clontarf Castle; the sleek, modern Indigo Lounge and the more traditional Knights Bar. We chose Knights Bar in the original part of the hotel for a meal. Grabbing a table next to the fireplace, the bar was warm, cosy and buzzing with customers. The design and decor honour the castle’s medieval roots and it would easily be a place where you could settle in for the evening, with a pint of Guinness, imagining how different life would have been in the castle’s early days as one of Dublin’s defence lines back in 1172.
Knights Bar has a cosy and relaxed gastro pub, with a new menu, serving up local Irish ingredients in a modern way. We shared the Grilled Irish Salmon Fillet, Mango & Coriander Salsa with Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges and the Knights Braised Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine & Black Treacle, Roast Garlic & Sundried Tomato Polenta Chips and Knights Mixed Vegetables. Both dishes were warming, hearty choices, perfect on a chilly Dublin evening but it was our waitress Elaine who made our evening. She was a delight and is no doubt a favourite with the bar’s regulars.
Move & Explore
Clontarf Castle has a Fitness Suite for guests to use. The room is small but has adequate cardio and weights equipment to keep you busy during a daily workout. The hotel also provides a discount to a nearby gym, Westwood Gym. We enjoyed a walk down to the water via Vernon Avenue one morning during our stay. The area is safe and quiet with some lovely small cafes, including a Paleo cafe, Honeysuckle if you are looking for a local outing. Alternatively, Dublin is a short taxi or car ride away for those who want to go sightseeing. Reception will happily arrange a cab collection for you.
Thank you to Clontarf Castle Hotel for hosting The Fit Traveller for our stay.
Clontarf Castle Hotel
Castle Avenue, Clontarf
Dublin 3, Ireland, D03 W5N0
+ 353 (0)1 8332321
Read about the hotel’s history here.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller. She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health. As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Skye created The Fit Traveller as a beautiful online space and community where people feel inspired to escape the desk to move and explore more.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her insatiable appetite for adventure.