One of the top requests for visitors to Ireland is to stay in a castle. While many of the Irish castles are in ruins, there are still a great number of options throughout the island.
That said, one of my favorite options for those looking for a castle or hotel stay on castle grounds is Killeavy Castle Estate. Opened just shortly before the pandemic, this authentic Irish castle is still quite a bit under the radar, which is why you need to jump at your chance to visit! Below we share all that you need to know to decide which part of the estate to stay in and why you should put this property on your Irish itinerary.
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Location of Killeavy Castle Estate
Located in County Armagh in Northern Ireland, this beautiful castle hotel offers a unique blend of luxury and natural beauty. The estate is nestled in the heart of the stunning Slieve Gullion Forest Park, which is known for its lush woodlands, serene lakes, and scenic walking trails. Nature lovers will appreciate the opportunity to explore this picturesque landscape as part of their stay.
The best part is Killeavy is located only 1 hour from both Dublin and Belfast, making it a fantastic destination for nature lovers looking to get way for a few days. Whether you are heading from Belfast to the Giants Causeway or only taking a day trip from Dublin, Killeavy Castle is the perfect escape and never too far off your route.
History of Killeavy Castle Estate
Killeavy Castle is a historic estate located in County Armagh in Northern Ireland, in an area that was often associated with the struggle for Irish independence as the boarder can be seen from the castle grounds..The history of Killeavy Castle Estate is rich and dates back several centuries going all the way back to the 1800s.
In all of these years, however, the estate has only changed hands 4 times. The property was in the Bell Family since the 1800s with the last remaining family member, Maureen Bell living in an RV outside of the castle as the buildings were in such disrepair.
One interesting thing to note is that the original owner of the estate, the Foxalls, still have their family crest displayed on the castle. Their family crest motto is “Do without saying” which works well in the ethos of the Killeavy Castle Estate’s current endeavors.
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After years of being abandoned, the property was purchased by Mick Boyle and restored to its beautiful glory of years past with significant renovation and restoration efforts. The castle itself was converted into a luxury space offering 2 suites and 2 rooms, while the coach house was modernized to create a 45 room luxury hotel and spa. All of this was done while preserving its historic charm and also offering modern amenities to guests. The estate also includes beautiful gardens and woodlands.
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Rooms at Killeavy Castle Estate
The estate offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Mourne Mountains and the beautiful Camlough Lake. These natural vistas provide a serene backdrop for your stay, regardless of whether you stay in the castle or in the boutique hotel. For guests looking to stay at Killeavy Castle Estate there are several options. You can rent out the entire castle (the only option for the castle is to do this) or stay in the modern boutique hotel accommodations connected to the refurbished coach house. Below I share more about each of these.
The castle itself is a historic gem, offering a unique blend of old-world charm and modern comfort. Staying in a castle surrounded by nature is an unforgettable experience. While not everyone can stay in the castle itself, I will say that if you can manage to snag a booking, it is probably one of the more affordable options in terms of castles in Ireland. The castle is rented out as one entity with prices starting at around 2000 pounds per night. The castle has 2 suites with attached bath (one in the tower of the castle even!), one bedroom with an attached bathroom with shower and one bedroom with a shared bath. There are numerous sitting areas upstairs and on the main level as well as a formal dining room.
The decor 0f the castle is filled with richly colored furnishings, with dark wooden tables and chairs and of course four-poster beds to provide that regal touch to the bedrooms. The bathrooms are modern, while keeping the feeling of the time. The best bathing spot of the castle has to be the beautiful bath at the top of the tower up 2 spiral staircases!
In addition, there is a full bar area in the basement of the castle which used to be the kitchen. And for me, the coolest part down here is the servants tunnel leading to the coach house.
Rooms at the Boutique Hotel
While the castle may be the big draw for many visitors, the boutique hotel on the estate grounds is well worth the visit alone! There are 45 luxurious rooms in a newly built addition to the former coach house to the castle. The structure of the old coach house was kept in tact and now houses the reception, lobby, sitting areas as well as the restaurant and bar.
The rooms at Killeavy Castle Estate are large, well appointed rooms where your every comfort and desire have been meticulously considered. You will be greeted by an ambiance of opulence and sophistication with a design focused on comfort, with plenty of room to relax and unwind.
The centerpiece of the room is the plush bed with feather-soft pillows and beautiful linens, surrounded by a timeless decor that creates an inviting atmosphere.
The bathrooms offer a soaking tub with bath salts included and an open shower with premium toiletries provided. Fluffy towels and bathrobes complete the spa like experience.
The Spa at Killeavy Castle Estate
The spa at Killeavy Castle Estate is one of the amenities that lures visitors even just for a day visit! After a day of exploring nature, you can relax and rejuvenate at the spa on the estate, which offers a range of treatments and therapies. In the spa you must make sure to visit the aromatherapy shower which lathers you will oils to help protect your skin and hair from the pool chemicals. It smells amazing too. After your time in the spa, why not try a real cold bucket shower!
There are two indoor pools, a sauna, heated concrete chairs and an outdoor hot tub with gorgeous views over the countryside. For those looking for a little drink, don’t forget that you can enjoy a glass of prosecco while relaxing in the spa.
Dining at Killeavy Castle Estate
The estate’s dining options include fine restaurants that serve delicious Irish cuisine made from locally sourced and organic ingredients. Led by Executive Chef Darragh Dooley, ingredients are sourced from their onsite farm, garden and from local suppliers. The food complements the natural surroundings perfectly.
The Bistro Bar is a popular dining spot for locals as well as for guests. We didn’t get the opportunity to eat the restaurant as it was not open on our weekday visit, but if the food in the Bistro is anything to go off of, the restaurant will be out of this world. We absolutely loved our 3 course meal at the Bistro, including my mocktail that I couldn’t get enough of!
The Killeavy Castle Estate is a true farm to table establishment that is worth a visit even if you are just passing through.
In the morning, an elaborate breakfast buffet was provided with a full Irish fry and other Irish favorites, including made to order eggs if requested and a jar of vegemite even!
Going Green: How Killeavy Castle Estate is going Carbon Neutral
One of the things I most loved about my stay and visit at Killeavy Castle was their efforts to give back to the local community and their aim to become carbon neutral by 2024. The estate currently employs 170 people from the surrounding community which is a great boon to this area.
Killeavy Castle Estate is also committed to sustainable tourism. They have implemented various eco-friendly initiatives, including renewable energy sources and waste reduction programs. A few examples of their work in this regard is their paper packaging for vanity kits and the use of glass refillable bottles for water in each room. Furthermore, they are continuously seeking ways to reduce single use items including slippers guests use at the spa.
Another way that Killeavy Castle Estate takes pride in its commitment to sustainability is through organic farming. They have their own walled garden and farm, providing fresh, locally-sourced ingredients for their restaurant. Guests can even take guided tours of the estate’s farm to learn more about sustainable agriculture.
In addition, they have a Farm Shop where guests and those in the local community can purchase goods made on the farm. Gareth Black, the estate’s butcher gives a fantastic view into the work being done here on the farm. Make sure to stop in for a visit and chat with him.
Why You Should Put Killeavy Castle Estate on Your Itinerary
Today, Killeavy Castle Estate is known as a destination for weddings, events, and tourism. It offers a serene and picturesque setting, making it popular for visitors looking to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Nature enthusiasts or those just trying to get away from their day to day busy lives, can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and birdwatching in the nearby forest and countryside.
Overall, Killeavy Castle Estate is an excellent choice for nature lovers seeking a luxurious and environmentally-conscious retreat in Ireland. Its stunning natural surroundings, commitment to sustainability, and range of outdoor activities make it a top pick for those looking to connect with nature while enjoying a castle hotel experience.
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