09 Nov Review: Abbeyglen Castle Hotel Galway
The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel will give you an authentic Irish welcome, hospitality and craic.
That’s why the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is one of my top castles to stay when visiting Ireland.
Driving up the Sky Road to the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel you catch a glimpse of turrets and flags poking through the trees and hills. It’s all very exciting and romantic, especially if you have never stayed in an Irish castle before. Walking from the car park towards the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel you then notice the helipad, the marble fountain, the ivy-clad façade and the big old wooden double door. So far, the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is ticking all the ‘traditional Irish castle’ boxes.
However, as you walk through the plush, sumptuous and relaxing lobby you are greeted by something you wouldn’t expect to find in an Irish castle hotel – an African Grey parrot named Gilbert. Gilbert is resident duty manager at the Abbeyglen Glen Hotel and hangs out by the reception area and chats to guests and whistles at the ladies. He is a very charming parrot, almost as charming as the staff who are so welcoming, helpful and funny, full of Irish wit and humour. Nothing is too much trouble for them and they will be the highlight of your stay.
The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is a family owned four-star hotel in Clifden, County Galway, in the west of Ireland. This luxury Manor House Hotel is more like a mansion house than a castle. However, the warm Irish welcome and hospitality will make you feel like a King or Queen. You really are treated like royalty. Sure, they have plenty of practice at welcoming the rich and famous as a small Hall of Fame attests. Framed photos of past guests proudly adorned the walls – Chelsea Clinton, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, Peter O’Toole and Billy Connolly – to name but a few.
Built in 1832, the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is situated on the scenic Sky Road in Connemara. It is less than a five-minute walk to the pretty town of Clifden. It is perfectly situated to explore Connemara. You can easily take a trip to Galway City or to explore the Wild Atlantic Way from here. Have a look at my photos of Connemara and Galway.
The grounds of the castle are well maintained and lush and green and feature tennis courts, fountains, a lovely patio area with tables and chairs, walking trails, a mini golf/pitch and put course as well as a helipad, should you decided to leave the car and take the chopper.
Inside is full of charm and authentic touches. There’s dark wooden panelling, elaborate art-work on the walls, lush, plush decorative carpets, thrones, dark leather armchairs and sofas as well as huge chandeliers. Turf burning fires warm the public areas and candles burn all around. It is very traditional and maybe a little bit dated looking but I sincerely think this adds to the charm. You’ve got to remember that this is a castle that is nearly 200 years old. However, many of the rooms have been refurbished including new showers and carpets and whilst I was there more work was being carried out on the carpets in the public areas.
Downstairs, the lobby area has fires and sofas, the library has books, games, more fires and more sofas and the bar has a turf burning fire, cosy seats and tables and a grand piano smack bang in the middle. There’s also another room with a big screen TV, pool table, card table and another piano. This large room is a good size for functions and watching sporting events.
On the first floor of the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel are triple bedrooms, which have a double or twin bed as well as a single bed. The second floor is where you’ll find a conference room with computers and large desk. There’s also the fabulous restaurant where the buffet breakfast and dinner is served. Additionally, there’s a smoking terrace with a big screen TV, outdoor heaters, and a fish tank! You will find lots of these quirky things throughout the hotel.
There’s also a very nice spa and beauty rooms in the tranquil gardens.
There are many different types of rooms on offer including ones with canopy four-poster beds and ones with a separate living area. For the ultimate Irish castle experience, there are rooms available in the turret of the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. I was given a tour of each type of room. They are all striking, inviting and well appointed.
I have stayed in the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel on more than one occasion. I have stayed in two different rooms on the second floor. One room had two single beds pushed together to make a double bed (a pet hate of mine) and the other room had a fabulous king-sized bed. The rooms situated at the back of the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel face a lovely secluded greenery area and the rooms at the front look out over a stream and the green hills that roll down to Clifden.
The rooms I stayed in had the following: double/twin beds with lots of pillows and lovely crisp linens with extra bedding in the wardrobes. The beds were a little on the hard side but as I have a bad back this was perfect for me.
My room had two beautiful antique chairs and a table as well as two bedside tables with a lamp on each one. Each room has a big screen TV and DVD player, kettle, teapot and tea, coffee, milk and sugar. There was a huge desk with a mirror and chair which was perfect for setting up a laptop and working.
There was a powerful hairdryer (hurrah), an iron, ironing board, trouser press, safe and a big wardrobe with plenty of hangers and shelves. Also, there were two full-length mirrors in the rooms that I stayed in. The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel offers a laundry service too.
Many of the rooms feature claw foot baths, and one has a double Jacuzzi, perfect for some good clean dirty fun. The bathtub was nice and long bath but not very wide, and the shower above the bath was nice and hot with good water pressure. The sinks were big and there was a huge mirrored wall with shelf space for all your toiletries. Shaving plugs are also on the wall as well as a magnifying mirror. There were lots of towels and a shower cap, soap, shower gel, shampoo and drinking glasses.
Light and clean
There were loads of lights in the room and a lot of natural light due to the big windows. However, the curtains were big and heavy and blocked out all the light and made the room nice and dark at night-time. Both the rooms I stayed in were very quiet. I only heard the other guests going in and out of their rooms in the morning. However, I am a light sleeper so I usually hear this in hotels.
My room and bathroom were clean and my room was cleaned every day of my stay. In fact, the entire hotel was clean.
A warm welcome
When you arrive, you are served an afternoon reception in the bar. There is a fresh pot of tea or coffee and some delicious fresh scones with real Irish butter and jam. Pull a seat up by the fire or the window and relax and enjoy the welcome.
In the evening time, there is a champagne reception. Bottles of bubbly are popped and glasses of fizz are served. Trays of crackers topped with smoked Irish salmon and Irish cheeses are also served. Brian the manager then tells you all about the history of the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel and what you can do around the area. (If you watch Gossip Girl, Brian the manager reminds me so much of the loveable Cyrus Rose. He is so much fun.)
Abbeyglen Castle Hotel restaurant
Each evening, I ate dinner in the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel restaurant. I loved the old high-backed chairs and the views out the large windows. The food is wonderful here too and the restaurant has a well-deserved one AA Rosette for great food and service. It really is service with a smile and usually a story or two – well you are in Ireland after all. We do love a good story!
There is a good amount of choice on the menu which has some great Irish ingredients and dishes. The slant is more towards traditional comforting Irish fayre rather than modern interpretations. This means you are getting a proper Irish meal and good-sized portions too. Take your choice from the very best local seafood, live lobster, a fresh catch of the day and Connemara lamb. The seafood chowder is marvellous.
If you are staying in the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel on a Tuesday you’ll be able to experience Irish Night. The Irish menu is written in Gaelic and there is a serving of several traditional dishes. This is accompanied by a memorable evening of traditional Irish music and song.
Oh, and wait until you see the dessert table. Yes, a table, full of desserts made each day by the fabulous dessert chef. I helped myself to a slice of almost everything as it all looked so good. I am happy to report it all tasted divine. Everything was worth the extra pounds added to my tummy.
Now, the best thing about the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is what we Irish call ‘the craic’. You will have the absolute craic here in the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel.
After dinner, everybody makes their way to the bar. Here is where the talented resident piano man and talent locals begin entertaining the guests. Now, singalongs and traditional Irish ‘sessions’ are not my most favourite thing. But I stayed up till 3 a.m. here as I was having so much fun.
Guinness and whiskey
The stories being told, the traditional Irish songs sung, the firm favourites belted out around the piano were tremendous. The atmosphere was electric. The guests were full of joy and Irish cheer, not to mention full of Guinness and Irish whiskey. Loads of people were up dancing. It was one of the best nights I have ever had in a hotel. One of the most authentic Irish experiences I have had the pleasure of enjoying. I went to bed that night with a big grin on my face. I can only imagine how happy those non-Irish guests were having experienced something so truly Irish, welcoming and inclusive.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything else that authentic in another Irish castle hotel. And for that alone, a stay in Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is a must do when in Ireland.
Here’s a photo of me having the craic with Brian, the manager.
My most favourite part of any hotel stay is the hotel breakfast. The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel buffet breakfast is a belly buster. There is so much choice. The lighter options include fresh fruit salad and juices, yoghurt, cereals and traditional Irish smoked salmon and brown bread. There’s plenty of hot food too including eggs any way you like. There’s also all the ingredients to have a traditional full Irish breakfast.
In fact, the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel has all the ingredients for a perfect, fun-filled, traditional and authentic Irish castle stay.
Check out the Abbeyglen Castle website for booking information.
If you want to get a feel for the craic that you’ll have at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel have a look at this brilliant promo film starring a host of famous Irish faces.
Where is your favourite Irish castle and why? Let me know in the comments below.
If you liked this hotel review you may also like my review of the Finn Lough Bubble Domes in Northern Ireland.
You might also like my review of the Orient Express Pullman Restaurant in Galway, Ireland.
You can see the stunning scenery around Clifden, the Sky Road and Connemara in my photography portfolios of Ireland.
If you do plan on driving the Sky Road or the Wild Atlantic Way have a read of my Guide to Driving in Ireland that I wrote for the Allianz Insurance Ireland blog.
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