Gyreum, Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo
If you want to reinvigorate your soul and get back to nature, it doesn’t get much more earthy than a trip to Gyreum, a wind- and solar-powered eco retreat in a colossal yurt-like timber temple with living wildflower roof, sunk into the hills of Sligo. Many come for their Pilgrim’s Progress six-county walking tour that culminates in a full moon-lit hot tub, but it’s an inspirational space to take part in a diverse range of creative and eco-centered events. Built on a ley line, stay in one of Gyreum’s inner tents, break bread at the great communal table and absorb some of Mother Earth’s free energy.
Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Co Down
In a stunningly restored Victorian sandstone building, the five-star Merchant Hotel in Belfast’s historic cathedral quarter was once HQ to the Ulster Bank. Even in the 19th-century bankers knew how to spend money and the old world grandeur of antique tapestries, Italian marble, massive gilt-framed mirrors and impossibly high ceilings is truly impressive.
Inisturkbeg, Clew Bay, Co Mayo
Who wouldn’t dream of owning their own island? Well if you can’t own it why not stay on someone else’s private island in the extraordinary setting of Clew Bay in Co Mayo overlooking ancient Croagh Patrick. Inisturkbeg, a luxury island retreat developed from scratch on a deserted island offers a getaway to one of five island ‘cottages’ with infinity pool, gym and spa, access to a private chef, butler and use of the retreat’s horses or catamaran for a scenic spin round the tiny ancient island.
Drenagh, Limavady, Co Derry
You may not be to the manor born but you can still pretend. The ab-fab Regency pile of Drenagh, on 1000 acres of parkland near Limavady, has been the home of the McCausland family since the 1600s but is all yours to rent. With eight bedrooms, you and your friends can enjoy the elegant delights of its billiard room, home cinema, indoor pool, walled garden (the largest of its kind in the country) while your chauffeur and house staff cater to your every whim.
Originally published as “Ireland’s top 10 unusual places to stay” © 2012 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved.
10 Gems of the Emerald Isle
Top 5 Places to Find Real Irish Food in Dublin
The World’s Most Unusual Beaches