One of the top things to do in Ireland is to spend a day (or more, if you like) as a royal and stay in a castle hotel. Although you can find castles and forts in many other parts of Europe, Ireland is one of those few countries that lets you enjoy the luxury and glory of the monarchical lifestyle by actually staying in a castle-turned-hotel. However, it can be an expensive affair and it took me a while to find a place that did not burn my pockets and fit into my 10-day road trip in Ireland. So if you're looking for an affordable castle hotel in Ireland - Ballyseede Castle Hotel in Tralee is the perfect choice.
Located hardly 45-minutes away from Dingle, and offering an authentic, regal and typically Irish experience, Ballyseede Castle Hotel is set in thirty acres of woodland in the heart of Kerry. The castle is not huge, which is a good thing because it feels opulent but also cosy, grand but also personal, and stellar service coupled with excellent interiors make the experience unparalleled.
The castle dates back to the 15th century but is now owned by the O'Sullivan family. It is located about 5 min away from the city centre of Tralee. Although it looks old from the outside, the interiors are a blend of classic Victorian styled furniture into a modern living environment with portraits hanging on the walls, large windows allowing the sunlight to pour into the otherwise dark interiors, magnificent chandeliers, elegant staircases, and wall-papered bedrooms, truly representative of aristocracy. Not only does Ballyseede Castle Hotel qualify as an affordable castle hotel in Ireland, it does not disappoint when it comes to the quality of service, facilities available and its interiors.
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As you enter into the castle's driveway, under the shadows of the looming trees, he 3-storied stone building, partially covered by creepers, stands out. Don't be afraid if you're greeted by the pet Wolfhounds - they're harmless and friendly! Mr Higgins and Einstein were probably the best part of the welcome, second only to the warm smiles of the staff. A flight of stone steps, stone-carved lions at the door and ambient lighting reveal very aesthetic interiors. The fireplace, parquet flooring, soft and subdued tones and portraits of royalty on the walls are significant in creating a fancy yet intimate reception for discerning guests looking for an affordable castle hotel.
If you have heavy luggage, do ask the help of the staff to take it up to your room if you're not on the ground floor (there are no elevators in the buildings).
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Although Ballyseede Castle Hotel maybe classified as an affordable castle hotel, there are facilities on site that will not let you feel the need to leave the castle grounds to look for entertainment or food outside. The gardens are a great place to enjoy a leisurely walk, read a book in a tranquil setting or simply watch the donkeys and ponies grazing in the fenced-off pastures.
Located near the entrance of the hotel is the O'Connell Restaurant. A formal setting with flamboyant green walls and a bright red & gold carpet, the restaurant offers a pleasant environment offering Irish cuisine made with the finest locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is open for dinner but only with prior reservations.
My favourite part of this affordable castle hotel is the Tea Room. Delicate and soft blue carpet, wall-paper & curtains set the tone for a quaint relaxation room in one part with button-backed couches, oak tables, marble lamps, an artistic fireplace and mantelpiece. The other part of the tea room is more well lit, with tables and chairs next to the exquisite windows half-covered with drapes, looking into the gardens outside. Fine China tea sets and period artefacts lace the room. This part of the restaurant is open 24 hours, serving hot tea and cookies throughout the day.
Right across from the tea room is Pappy's Bar. A very snug and dimly-lit bar, one can enjoy all-day dining here, with the option to take their food and drinks into the tea room. The bar is open until late hours of the night, making it the perfect place to enjoy post-dinner drinks and intimate conversations.
Although usually reserved for private events, the Stone Room Restaurant also serves a buffet breakfast every morning for the in-house guests. As the name suggests, the restaurant has stone walls with small windows, thus making it imperative for the chandeliers to be lit even during the day. The food as well the service here is excellent, as is true for any other restaurant in this affordable castle hotel.
About 40 tastefully decorated and spacious rooms are available in this affordable castle hotel, from the basement to the top (3rd) floor. Although the room in the main castle building will cost you about €130 per night, cheaper options are available in a building called The Lodge, which is about 2 min away from the main castle building.
The carved oak wardrobes in the room, plush carpet, soft-colour drapes on the windows contrasting with the bright pattern of the wallpaper, four-poster bed and a spacious bathroom added to the magic of the place. Our room had a beautiful view of the castle's grounds, directly overlooking the pastures with the donkeys and ponies.
The Resident Ghost (s)
This affordable castle hotel is apparently home to a few (friendly) ghosts, one of which is Hilda, a World War I nurse and the last of Blennerhassett family, the last owners of the castle before it was turned into a hotel by the present owners. Some former hotel guests claim to have seen her peering out of the window of the Crosby Room, her previous bedroom. Sometimes, she leaves behind a scent of red roses.
I tried searching for her during my stay, but without success! A walk through the narrow and quiet corridors late at night can be very eerie, nevertheless.
Although it is cheaper to stay at The Lodge, I would advise you to take a room in the main castle building and since Ballyseede Castle Hotel is an affordable castle hotel, it will not cost you an arm and leg to get a decent room. Also, the rooms in the basement do not have a view, so if you want a brightly-lit room, then ask for one on the ground, first or second floor.
The castle is a 4-star hotel and although it may not seem as grand in terms of the size, the small spaces only make it more homely and comfortable. The interiors are stylish, ornate but classy, and nothing less than royal.
Book your stay at Ballyseede Castle here.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I paid for staying at the Ballyseede Castle Hotel and all the opinions expressed in the post are my own genuine views.