Filled with surprises, the area around the River Barrow is a great hunting ground for places to stay with a difference…
Nestled into the undulating green folds of the countryside around the River Barrow, you'll find some of the island's most beautiful places to stay. Historic options abound here, whether you want to relax in a Georgian country house or be a king for a day in incredible castle accommodation. And with great self-catering choices, award-winning B&Bs and modern hotels in the heart of the action, finding somewhere great to stay has never been easier.
Lorum Old Rectory - lorum.com
This country house B&B lays on the style with super-charming bedrooms that are bursting with character. Dating back to 1863 and boasting an exquisite location deep in the Barrow Valley at the foot of the Blackstairs Mountains, the house has a delightfully old-world feel thanks to an 18th century grandfather clock, huge windows with views of Mount Leinster, and an abundance of books. Take dinner by candlelight in the graceful dining room with its 19th century table and large black, marble fireplace, cosy up with a book on one of the comfy couches in front of an open fire, or stroll around the gardens.
Kilgraney House, Bagenalstown - kilgraneyhouse.com
This is a bolthole with a difference – a country house hotel that feels like home and is surrounded with gorgeous gardens and granite stone courtyards. The truly tranquil rural setting will have you melting into relaxation in no time, while elegant rooms, excellent food and AromaSpa overlooking the Barrow Valley amp up the luxury factor. Adults only.
Waterside Guesthouse - watersideguesthouse.com
If you're planning to walk or cycle the Graiguenamanagh to St Mullins stretch of the towpath, then Waterside Guesthouse is a good bet for an overnight or two. It's got a great location on the water within an attractive old mill building, and Brian and Brigid Roberts who run the guesthouse will make sure you're well looked after with everything from bicycle hire to tips on great local walks and activities. Rooms are cosy and well-sized and Graiguenamanagh's traditional pubs, friendly cafés and restaurants are all within walking distance.
Huntington Castle, Clonegal - huntingtoncastle.com
If you're looking for somewhere to stay with a difference, then Huntington Castle is the place for you. An overnight here gives an unrivalled glimpse into what modern day life is like within a 17th century castle, as Huntington is still lived in by the descendants of its original occupants. Rooms are suitably lavish with four poster beds, oak panelled décor and picture-lined walls, and you can expect the kind of hospitality that makes you feel like one of the family.
Lord Bagenal Inn - lordbagenal.com
The Lord Bagenal occupies a great location in Leighlinbridge, just beside the river and right in the heart of the village. The bar here is a local favourite, with its wonderful art collection, great craft beers and a solid bar menu while in summer, the outdoor terrace overlooking the river is a delightful place to unwind and relax after a day on the Barrow. Family rooms are spacious and comfortable, and babysitting is available on request. Weekends can get busy in the summer with weddings, so book well in advance.
There's a great range of self-catering on offer along the Barrow, with rural retreats that are sure to have you feeling relaxed in no time. Garrison House in Leighlinbridge has a great B&B in a delightful Georgian country house, but is also a good spot for self-catering, with two- and three-bed holiday homes. For a real feeling of getting away from it all, book yourself into the Coach House at St Mullins, where you'll have both the great Mullichain Café and stupendous views of the river right on your doorstep. Or relax in delightful 18th century surrounds at the stunning Stable Yard House at Burtown House. Sleeping six and offering 24/7 access to the garden, it's a characterful place to stay with antiques, open fires and an Aga.
Seven Oaks Hotel & Leisure Club - sevenoakshotel.com
If you want to be in the thick of the action with everything on your doorstep, then this four-star modern hotel in Carlow town should tick the boxes. All rooms include a double and single bed and there are interconnecting rooms available, a good bet for families with older children. In the leisure club, you'll find a 20-metre pool and jacuzzi, while the Oaks Bar is a decent spot for evening bar food.
Carlow is particularly well served on the B&B front with friendly welcomes, great breakfasts and local tips on what to see and where to go. Brandon View House is located about 6km from Graiguenamanagh with the Blackstairs Mountains forming a beautiful backdrop. Rooms are charming and elegant (some with four poster beds), and in the communal lounge, you can watch TV or play board games. Avalon House in Carlow town scored the Bed & Breakfast of the year in 2019 at the Irish Hospitality Awards, so it's definitely doing something right! With great hospitality, excellent value and two lounges (one boasting a 700-strong DVD library), it's a winning choice in the centre of town. Or try an organic farmhouse B&B at Coolanowle Country House just on the Carlow/Laois border. The extensive grounds are a joy to explore, and as the house is a Good Food Ireland award-winner, you can be sure of an excellent breakfast.