Castle Leslie

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5 Luxury Family Hotels In Ireland


Five Star hotels and kids don’t always go together, but I found five luxury family hotels in Ireland that managed to tick all boxes.


With more of us holidaying at home, luxury family hotels in Ireland are in high demand. Sometimes it can be hard for hotels to get the balance right – we might want a five-star experience, but it is also important that hotels are family friendly. I’ve stayed in all of these hotels with my family and can highly recommend them. Some hotels have family rooms or interconnecting rooms, while others have lodges on the grounds of the hotel.

luxury family hotels in Ireland - Mount Juliet

It is important to note that some facilities listed below may have restrictions imposed. I always recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or if you have to change your plans at the last minute. However, if you are booking a non-refundable room, check out



1. Fota Island Resort, Co. Cork

One of our favourite luxury family hotels in Ireland, we have visited Fota Island Resort on a many occasions. While the hotel is perhaps not as luxurious as some of the others on this list, the hotel facilities and the on site self catering lodges are superb for families.


We stayed in one of the new three bedroom Fushia lodges last year and loved it. Not only were they very spacious, but the modern interiors were some of the best I have seen. The children loved playing in the large back garden and we even had some resident rabbits join us each morning for breakfast! 


Fota Island Resort has a large outdoor playground, an indoor pool and a kids playroom. There are also lots of kids camps to choose from during school holidays. Camp Fota (€10 per session) operates for 4 – 12 year olds with indoor and out door games in their own dedicated kids lodge. There are also golf camps and an adrenaline adventure centre (age 8+ ) with kayaking, bush craft and lots more (€20 per session).

The restaurant has supervised kids buffets at 6.30pm followed by movie nights and quizzes so parents can even have a date night!  However, It is important to check that these camps and facilities are still running when you are booking.


We also stayed in the hotel rooms at Christmas time when we were lucky to see the Fota Beyond Christmas experience. This is one of Ireland’s best Santa Experiences and one I would highly recommend. The dark furnishings in the hotel lend itself perfectly to the festive period. With warm fires and lavish decorations, this is a great time to visit. All children also receive a large teddy bear in their room, Bea, which soon became our new family pet!

Luxury Family Hotel Breaks In Ireland
One of the advantages of staying in Fota Island Resort is its close proximity to Fota Wildlife Park. To witness many animals including kangaroos and lemurs roam free, is something that we all loved. Fota Wildlife Park also runs a Summer camp for children aged 4 and above, that focuses on the importance of animal conservation through five themed days.

Fota Island Resort is also very close to Cobh where you can take the Titanic experience tour, or take the boat trip to spooky Spike Island, to explore the fortress that once held 2300 prisoners. 

Read: My review of Fota Island Resort

Check prices here




2. Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan

One of my favourite hotels in Ireland, Castle Leslie is not like a traditional hotel. The Leslie family still live here at times during the year and the hotel even closes at Christmas time for a large family get together. The minute you enter the hotel you get the sense that you are visiting someone’s home. Although it is less grand than Ashford or Dromoland Castle, it has a relaxed, cosy atmosphere that is extremely inviting.


The grounds are spectacular with plenty of activities available for guests. It doesn’t have a swimming pool, but it makes up for this by having one of Europe’s finest equestrian centres and one of Ireland’s best preserved lakes for fishing. You can also try kayaking, clay pigeon shooting or even take a hot air balloon ride.


The lodges are located in the village of Glaslough, about five minutes walk from the Lodge at Castle Leslie. These four and five bedroom lodges are more like luxury town houses. All have open fires, nine foot ceilings, are lavishly furnished and cater for 8 – 10 people. They are located only a few minutes walk from the village of Glaslough and the Lodge at Castle Leslie, and about ten minutes from the Castle.


The village of Glaslough is an attraction in itself, with quaint shops and family friendly pub in the centre. Make sure you pop in to Ambledown Cottage for some great pizza in a beautiful, albeit quirky setting. Another must do is a visit to nearby Lake Muckno. Located in Castleblaney, this lake is undoubtedly Monaghan’s finest, with spectacular scenery from all sides. Take the time to do the Black Island walk. Enjoy the forest trails with fairy doors and Wilbert’s adventure playground. We tried kayaking and loved it. The water was so calm, it was even suitable for small children. You can wakeboard, waterski or take a boat out on the lake and prices are very reasonable. 

Read: Captivated my Castle Leslie

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3. Lough Erne Resort, Co. Fermanagh

Luxury Family Hotel Breaks In Ireland

This luxury hotel is situated on a 600 acre peninsula overlooking two championship golf courses and lower Lough Erne lake. The lodges are a huge attraction, with conical roofs that look straight out a fairytale. The food at the hotel is superb and there are are lots of options to choose from, with a fine dining restaurant, a Loughside Bar and Grill, as well as some tasty bar food.

The large indoor pool allows for family swims from 8am – 11am  and 4.30pm-530pm. There is also an unsupervised play room, Ernies Den, with table football, air hockey and lots more. 

Luxury Family Hotel Breaks In Ireland

There are some excellent walks around the hotel golf course with stunning views over the lakes. There are also more arduous walks close by, the famous Stairway to Heaven boardwalk at Culcaigh Mountain, being one of them. This is more suited to older children as it is a 15km round trip with 450 steps. A popular spot for social media enthusiasts, no doubt teenagers will enjoy taking selfies at the top!


Marble Arch Caves and Lough Navar Forest Park are also close by as well as Corralea activity centre. The town of Enniskillen is only 5 minutes drive from Lough Erne if you fancy a change of scene. Make sure you pop into Francos for some good food in family friendly surroundings.

Read: Living it up at Lough Erne Resort

Check prices here



4. Kelly’s Resort Hotel & Spa, Co. Wexford

Kelly's Resort Hotel, Wexford - luxury family hotels in Ireland

Perched on five miles of sandy beach, with award winning cuisine and a host of activities for children, it is no surprise that Kelly’s Resort Hotel is considered one of best luxury family hotels in Ireland. Although officially only a four star hotel, the service and facilities on site deserve five stars. There is non stop entertainment for both adults and children available, with kids clubs, mini-golf and a multi-award winning spa, all on site. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the hotel, (many don’t), there are lots of things to do in Wexford with kids.

The food is superb, with an extensive buffet (probably one of the best I’ve seen) and an a la carte restaurant, where parents are encouraged to dine alone, while the kids enjoy the buffet with their new found friends. There is complimentary child minding from 7-9pm which allows for a romantic dinner for two, a rarity for parents with young children. 

Read :Is Kelly’s is the best family hotel in Ireland?




5. Mount Juliet Estate, Co. Kilkenny

luxury family hotels in Ireland

Mount Juliet is one of Ireland’s finest hotels and is one of the most popular luxury family hotels in Ireland. We stayed here recently and had a fantastic experience. The grounds, the facilities and the choice of dining options are superb. You can choose to stay in the Manor House, as we did, or the more modern Hunters Yard, which I’m told caters extremely well for families, and offers great value too.


I was surprised at how much children’s activities are available in Mount Juliet. There is a large playground with a zip line, as well as a fairy trail located in the gardens. Extensive kids clubs operate during school holidays, (extra charge applies), so parents can enjoy a round of golf or spa treatment while the kids avail of the supervised activities. 


There are two kids clubs, one from age 5-12 and the other 12+. Activities range from archery, equestrian and meet the owls, to baking, golf, treasure hunts and arts and crafts. It is important to check activities in advance with Mount Juliet as some activities may change. There are also evening activities such as a talent show and movie nights, and children can dine with their new pals giving parents the opportunity to have a date night.  


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There is also a leisure centre and equestrian centre which we loved. I tried horse rinding for the first time with my daughter Alex and it was fabulous! We trotted past the Manor House, through the woods and along side the golf course – it was an experience I would highly recommend. 

Read: My review of Mount Juliet Resort

Check prices here


I hope this post on luxury family hotels in Ireland will help you plan a family break soon. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed may not be operating to full capacity – please check with individual hotel for clarification. I always recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or you need to cancel due to personal reasons.


Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.  Read more in my privacy policy.


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The Travel Expert


Holidays in Ireland

6 Fun Things To Do In Monaghan


Take a stroll around Lake Muckno, cycle around secret Drumlin trails and have afternoon tea in Castle Leslie! Here are six fun things to do in Monaghan!

I have visited many counties in Ireland but until recently, Monaghan had escaped me. It wasn’t a place that was on my bucket list, in fact it wasn’t really on my radar at all. However after spending a few days there with my family, my eyes were opened, and I was surprised at the variety of things to do in Monaghan. The cliché ‘hidden gem’ sprang to mind on numerous occasions during my visit. 

The towns of Monaghan and Castleblaney are full of life and have a wide variety of dining options. In fact, Monaghan finished in the top 10 of Irish foodie destinations, run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland. Known as the land of drumlins, Monaghan’s rolling hills enhance the dramatic landscape and its proximity to the border with Northern Ireland ensures locals have some great stories to tell. We found lots of fun things to do in Monaghan during our quick visit, check them out below.

Spend a day at Lough Muckno.

I would drive to Monaghan again just to visit Lough Muckno. It should be top of your list if visiting Monaghan. Located in Castleblaney, this lake is undoubtedly Monaghan’s finest, with spectacular scenery from all sides. Take the time to do the Black Island walk. This is a leisurely 2km walk that is suitable for all the family. My kids loved the forest trails with fairy doors and being able to walk along the waters edge was an added bonus. Wilbert’s adventure playground is located here too which is packed with ziplines and large slides.

Visit Castle Leslie and Glaslough Village

We were fortunate to stay at Castle Leslie’s Village Cottages which are situated in the picturesque village of Glaslough. Take time to pay a visit to Castle Leslie and you will see why Paul Mc Cartney and so many other celebrities chose to get married here. You can dine at the Lodge or have Afternoon Tea in the Castle but if you fancy eating in the town, Ambledown Cottages is a unique find. Read my blog on my stay at Castle Leslie for more details.

fun things to do in Monaghan

Have lunch in Dinkins

After spending the morning playing pitch and putt we worked up a healthy appetite for lunch!  We visited the family run restaurant, Dinkins, which is located in the heart of Monaghan town. Traditionally a bakery, it is also home to a full delicatessen and a restaurant.

The passion and pride in which our host April described the menu was incredible. “There isnt a cake downstairs that I wouldn’t eat myself” – April’s enthusiasm was a pleasure to watch and I knew immediately we were in for a treat. We enjoyed a marvellous selection of sandwiches, paninis and salads and there were clean plates all round. Of course we simply had to try some of their delicious cakes too. Check out my son’s happy face below, that says it all!

Visit Monaghan Museum

Although I wouldn’t necessarily class this as a fun thing to do in Monaghan, the Monaghan County Museum is definitely worth a visit, and you may have some fun along the way too! Located in the centre of Monaghan Town this award winning museum has been open for 40 years. Although not particularly a children’s paradise, there are plenty of interesting artefacts from the Stone and Ice age that kept them amused.

Local man, Irish rugby international and all around nice guy Tommy Bowe, has kindly donated his various rugby jerseys to the Museum and they were a big hit with my son too.

There are numerous exhibitions on throughout the year and we were fortunate to see ‘The Watchman’, which tells the story of 200 years of policing, crime and punishment in Ireland. The kids enjoyed trying on the jail scrubs and pretending to get arrested! The latest exhibition ‘The Monaghan Spitfire’ centres around the remains of a WWII Spitfire that was excavated last Summer as well as an original set of nazi invasion plans for Ireland. 

fun things to do in Monaghan

Have dinner in Monaghan Spice

As previously mentioned Monaghan is becoming widely known as one of Ireland’s food destinations. There is a wide selection of dining options and Monaghan even has its own Taste of Monaghan, food festival at the end of September.

We ate in Monaghan Spice, an Indian restaurant that has recently been named as one of Ireland’s top 50 World Restaurants. Both the service and quality of the food was impeccable. The menu is extensive with plenty of options for adults and children alike, from mild to spicy dishes. Portions are large so if opting to share you should take that into account. The kids loved the sharing platter that we had for starters which came with chicken tikka, tandoori chicken and kebabs. For main course I opted for one of the house specialities, prawn chingri chaloo and it didn’t disappoint. For more details click here.

fun things to do in Monaghan

Rent a bike and ride through the drumlin townlands

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try this myself, but it is something to plan for my next trip!, has trails and bikes to suit all ages and fitness levels. Choose a short 6km trail, or if you are feeling adventurous, try the a 57km Carleton/Kavanagh trail. Visit viking forts, monastic settlements and the pretty town of Glaslough. Prices from €15 per day for a regular bike or €35 per day for an electric bike.

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Although I have only listed 6 fun things to do in Monaghan, trust me there are lots more! Our visit was a quick one, we only stayed for two nights so I would definitely recommend you stay longer. I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit but I have no doubt that it won’t be long before I’m back 🙂


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Holidays in Ireland

Captivated by Castle Leslie

castle leslie_opt

Ambling from room to room in Castle Leslie, I felt a little like Elizabeth Bennett when she was snooping around Pemberley.

The atmosphere, the grounds, even the lake bore a striking resemblance to Mr Darcy’s mansion in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, although on a slightly smaller scale. When I was given a tour of Castle Leslie, it didn’t feel like a hotel, it felt like I was looking around someone’s house when they weren’t there.

The Leslie family has lived on the estate since 1665 and the hotel is now run by Sammy Leslie. Castle Leslie is closed over Christmas while the family gather together over the holidays. As I gazed at the long antique table, I pictured the family sitting around enjoying Christmas Dinner together.  Yes, Castle Leslie was not like any other hotel I have visited.

The lengths that Sammy Leslie went to to bring the estate back to it’s former glory are remarkable. Without a penny in the bank, and the estate in serious disrepair, Sammy started by refurbishing fourteen bedrooms between 1995 and 1997. She organised tours of the house, started tea rooms in the conservatory and dinners were served by candlelight in the dining room.

Slowly but surely over the following twenty years, Sammy managed to restore the rest of the estate. She added a cookery school and a state of the art equestrian centre. She also helped regenerate the village of Glaslough.

This remarkable woman also pushed limits in her private life. After trying 9 different schools she left school at 15 and rode horses for a living. She walked on hot coals, bungee jumped, drove 40ft trucks and even had a job as a mud wrestler at one point! Her story and that of her eccentric Uncle Jack, are part of Castle Leslie’s charm. Not only did I love the hotel, I found myself loving the family too.

castle leslie

Castle Leslie is smaller than I imagined. Although it felt less grand than Ashford or Dromoland Castle, it has a relaxed, cosy atmosphere that is extremely inviting. It feels more personal, almost homely and I could even imagine living in it.

There are family portraits scattered throughout the house, a grand piano that I am sure was involved in many family get togethers, as well as a cosy bar that no doubt had some great sing songs over the years.

Furnishings are in typical classic style, but fresh and modern at the same time, with no dark dreary rooms.  The lack of a swimming pool means it is only given a four-star rating, but for me Castle Leslie is five-star in every other way.

Castle Leslie

We spotted a large room being dressed for a wedding – I could only imagine how romantic it would be to get married here. Surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodland, lakes and stunning gardens, I don’t believe you could take a bad photograph in Castle Leslie.

If you are fortunate to get married here (like Sir Paul McCartney and many other celebrities), you take over the whole castle – only you and your guests are allowed to stay. Castle Leslie is often referred to as ‘Europe’s most romantic hotel’, I can see why.

There is a choice of dining options in the Lodge, Conor’s bar, which offers traditional pub grub, and Snaffles, a fine dining restaurant, which also has a children’s menu. We decided however to treat ourselves to ‘Uncle Jacks Great Afternoon Tea’ in the Castle instead.

We were placed in the conservatory. I was travelling with my two children, 6 and 9 so I’m not sure if we were put there because we had children, or whether they thought it was the best place to admire the garden views…. Whatever the reason, it suited us fine! The price, €25 per person, was reasonable I thought, and there was ample food for all.

We enjoyed miniature sandwiches of cucumber and chive crème fraiche, ham and wholegrain mustard, and smoked salmon and cream cheese. The middle tier consisted of scones, crumpets and custard tartlets while the pièce de résistance was the top lair, with baked cheese cake, macaroons, opera gateau, to name but a few!

The staff were very accommodating with the children and provided some extra ham sandwiches (€11). Over all I thought €61 was good value for five of us. Of course we couldn’t have afternoon tea without bubbles….

There are so many outdoor activities available on the Castle Leslie estate. Castle Leslie is home to one of Europe’s finest equestrian centres, has one of Ireland’s best preserved lakes for fishing. You can also try kayaking, clay pigeon shooting and even a hot air balloon ride!

Unfortunately time was against us, we were only staying for two nights, and with the hotel booked for a wedding on our second day, sadly we were unable to experience them. 

After our brief tour and walk around the grounds it was time to go back to our village cottage. The title ‘cottage’ is a tad misleading, Castle Leslie’s four and five bedroom Village Cottages, are huge!  

They are built around a village square and each cottage is styled differently, both inside and out. All have open fires, nine foot ceilings and are lavishly furnished. They cater for 8 to 10 people, and are equipped with all mod cons, including free WiFi.

Located only a few minutes walk from the village of Glaslough and the Lodge at Castle Leslie, and about ten minutes from the Castle, they are a great option for families or friends looking for self catering accommodation beside the hotel. 

Village Cottage

Posted by The Travel Expert on Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Glaslough is a pretty little village with lots of character and is the perfect size for a leisurely stroll. We took the 2km self guided heritage trail walk, which is a great way to learn about the connection between the Leslie family and Glaslough village over the last 350 years.

The trail takes you to the old train station, St Salvator’s church, and into the Castle Leslie estate. Simply download the app and you can have an audio trail for your entire walk, with maps to tell you where to go. This tidy town winner is part of Ireland’s Ancient East, which is linked to a network of Irish stories over the past 5,000 years.

Castle Leslie

Walking through the village we came across one of the prettiest cottages I have ever seen, Ambletown Cottage, which is only a few minutes walk from Castle Leslie. I started taking pictures of the stone walls and flowers when out popped Jeremy from behind the half-door.

Jeremy talked to us about the ‘sleepy wee village’ of Glaslough and how he and his family turned this house into a restaurant business. He even offered to let me stay while he went to the local shop, telling me to “just close the door behind you when you are done”! I knew we had to eat there, so we made a reservation (you need to) and came back later that evening.

Ambledown Cottage is a tea rooms during the day, and a pizzeria by night – and boy were the pizzas good! Not only is the food delicious, but the setting is totally bizarre – in a good way! There are several different rooms you can eat in, each with different tables, chairs, and strange objects hanging out of the ceiling (a pram being one of them). The quirky dining area is like the front of the cottage, covered in flowers and has a unique style that attracts diners from all over Monaghan.

Glaslough is also home to one of the best bars in Monaghan the Coach House and Olde Bar, and no visit would be complete without a visit to Glaslough Chocolates shop. Open four years, local lady Trish Murphy-Thom moved back to her home town to set up her own business, making delicious chocolates from her kitchen.

We were shown how she mixes the best Belgian chocolate with fresh local ingredients, including pure butter and Monaghan cream. They are divine! Apparently if you are staying in Castle Leslie you will be treated to a little favour box on your pillow each night. We decided to buy some to bring home instead!

castle leslie

If you visit Castle Leslie you will be fortunate to experience one of Ireland’s most luxurious hotels in a unique village setting. The countless facilities at the hotel including various dining and accommodation offerings, make it ideal for a family break or a romantic weekend. Castle Leslie is not like a typical hotel, it is full of history, character and characters. If the walls had ears, what stories would they tell… I challenge you not to fall in love with the place 💛

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