Sleep Like a Queen at Castle Leslie, Ireland’s Ancient East

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Whether this is your first time traveling to Ireland or you are a repeat guest of the Emerald Isle, you won’t be disappointed with a castle stay. Located in the region of Ireland’s Ancient East, in County Monaghan, Castle Leslie is a family-owned estate and Irish castle hotel. With several unique lodging options, situated on 1,000 privately owned acres, you’ll sleep like a queen, or king, in any of the antique filled rooms. With the estate’s close proximity to Dublin International Airport, the castle works for either a starting point or end to an Irish holiday.

This trip to Ireland was my first time staying in castles and manor houses. From my castle stay at Gregan’s Castle to another opportunity at Barberstown Castle, I quickly learned that each hotel castle had it’s own unique history and design. Castle Leslie met my expectations of a beautifully furnished old castle, yet I was delighted to walk downstairs, in a light-filled hallway that offered over-head skylights. You don’t see modern design elements blended seamlessly into a stately mansion everyday.

A wide array of hotel options are available on property, from the heritage bedrooms in the castle, to lodge rooms, village cottages and old stables mews. The former coach house is a fifteen minute walk from the castle – or a short drive through the estate. It is ideal for families and small groups. If you are traveling with your pet, dogs are allowed in the old stables mews rooms.

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Our suite offered a view of Glaslough Lake and was filled with antiques fit for a queen. In fact, Queen Margaret of Sweden stayed in the Mauve Room, and so did Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones fame. I knew I had landed in a sweet spot when I discovered the chocolate truffles left in our room from Glaslough Chocolate Company. Owner Sammy Leslie adds a personal touch to everything within the castle, including using local businesses whenever possible.

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Like me, Sammy has an affinity for horses. You’ll want to visit Castle Leslie Equestrian Center even if you are not a rider. This is the place to learn how to ride, or up your game if you are an experienced equestrian. The hotel offers specific holiday packages geared toward the horse enthusiast. The horses and staff are truly fabulous.

If you are staying at Castle Leslie, you’ll also be dining at Snaffles restaurant, named after the mouth piece from a horse’s bridle. The fine dining restaurant is the social hub of the Estate. There’s also Conor’s Bar for knocking back a pint of Guinness and enjoying a bit of traditional country home cooking in a casual atmosphere. Of course, Castle Leslie offers traditional afternoon tea in several gorgeous rooms within the Castle. (You don’t need to stay at Castle Leslie to enjoy afternoon tea, but you’d be wise to make advance reservations.) If that isn’t enough to keep you full, there’s always the full Irish breakfast. With so many dining choices, I should warn you ahead to eat wisely or, like me, you’ll return from your holiday with clothing that fits a little more snug. With that in mind, there’s plenty of activity to be had on the 1,000 acre estate.

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In addition to horseback riding, you’ll be able to fish and kayak on Glaslough Lake, try your hand at the ancient sport of falconry or clay pigeon shooting. After a day of horseback riding, I’ll always opt for the spa.

Room rates start at €90-€110 per person at the Lodge, including bed and breakfast, per night. Castle rates are slightly higher, starting at €100-€175 per person. Check the website for current pricing. You can also compare pricing at booking sites such as Travelocity or Castle Leslie is a member of Ireland’s Blue Book and Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report.

Review by Nancy D. Brown, Bay Area Travel Writer and castle enthusiast. I was a guest of Castle Leslie will exploring Ireland’s Ancient East. All photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown.

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