5 Reasons to Stay at the Clontarf Castle Hotel

fixedwI’ve always wanted to live in a castle. Unless I ever get filthy rich or decide to pursue a career in butlery, that’s not going to happen. Thus I satisfied part of that childhood desire of mine by staying in a castle the last four nights.

Tonight is my last night in the Clontarf Castle Hotel, and I just wanted to share how incredible the experience has been. I cannot recommend this place enough. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. It’s a castle! This hotel is not like any other. Its walls are those of a very old castle. And it’s so much more than just a novelty feature. Sure, the bedrooms just feel like ordinary hotel bedrooms. But there are a number of lounges that intertwine in and out of the castle parts of the building. This is particularly important for rainy Irish days when you don’t want to go out much. Hanging out in the castle parts of the building on those days is a vacation in itself.
  2. Location. The hotel is in Clontarf, a little seaside town about 10 minutes away from Dublin and 20 minutes away from Howth, where I spent a lovely day today. Honestly, there’s not a ton to do in Clontarf, but it’s great if you’re like me and want to pretend you’re indigenous for a few days on vacation. Now, there are certain perks to staying in Dublin–considerably more choices of restaurants and pubs, as well as more tourist destinations–but Clontarf feels like an escape from the hubbub of real life, which has its benefits.
  3. Affordable luxury. This is a four-star luxury hotel that you can stay at for under $100/night.
  4. Amenities. I’ve spent most of my time in an awesome in-hotel bar called the Knight’s Bar, but there’s also a club and an expensive restaurant here. Just depends on what you’re looking for, but it’s nice to have all of them in the hotel. They seem to attract a number of locals, not just people staying at the hotel. And there have been a ton of weddings here during my stay. I may or may not be married to an Irish woman; I’m really not sure what happened in that ceremony.
  5. Service. I need a separate section for this, because it’s been astoundingly good. See below.
  • My flight arrived last Friday at 8:00 am, and I wanted to go to the hotel first. I would have been fine with just dropping off my bags because check in wasn’t until late afternoon, but they found me a room right away. It was really nice to be able to relax after the long trip.
  • I had a bit of an issue with cash on my second day. I realized that many places here only accept “cash or chip,” the latter of which means that your debit card has a microchip in it. Your American debit cards will not have this chip, and without it you may not be able to use ATMs or make payments. In the US I just use my credit card for everything so I can track my expenses, but I wasn’t going to be able to do that here. I was a little stuck, but I explained the situation to the concierge, and he let me pay for cash from the hotel with my credit card. I didn’t expect them to help in that way, but they did, and it was a huge relief for me.
  • I’ve tried to eat a variety of Irish food during my trip, but I had difficulty finding shepherd’s pie in any restaurants for some reason. Finally I found it today at a local shop where they make food daily and package it for reheating. So I had a cold meat pie with no way to heat it (my room doesn’t have a microwave, but the pie was in foil, so a microwave wouldn’t have helped). I mentioned it to the concierge (a different guy than the first one), and he told me he would take care of it and send it up to my room when it was ready. 20 minutes later I was happily eating a deliciously warm authentic Irish shepherd’s pie in my room.
For all three of those situations, the hotel could have said, “We don’t do that.” But instead, they found a way to help every time. You’re not going to find that everywhere, so make sure you come here the next time you’re in Ireland. Mention the shepherd’s pie guy to the concierge and you’ll share a laugh.