5-star hotels in Donegal: introducing Lough Eske Castle

If you fancy indulging in a spot of luxury on your trip to Ireland's northwest, take a look at Lough Eske Castle, the only 5-star hotel in Donegal.

Filled with upscale features, including a spa set in an authentic Victorian glass house, everything here is designed to make you feel like the lord – or lady – of the manor. The award-winning hotel’s historical charm blends in with thoughtful design touches – from beds carved by hand and silky linens to fully stocked minibars and hospitality trays.

Lough Eske Castle is an ideal base for soaking up the dramatic surroundings of County Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way. On your return to the hotel, fine-dining with local produce like pine-cured salmon and venison awaits.

Rooms to remember at the 5-star Lough Eske Castle hotel in Donegal

Lough Eske Castle, parts of which date back as far as the 1400s, has 96 rooms and suites split across a beautifully restored interior. Lots of thought has gone into the castle’s renovation, with sandstone stairways and gleaming wood contrasting with contemporary sculptures. Pick from countryside-inspired Courtyard Rooms or gorgeous Garden Suites that open out onto the lush landscape. These rooms are a great choice if you’re on a spa holiday – the top-notch facilities of Solis can be accessed via the grounds, just a few steps away. You can also take downtime in your room – just pop on the fluffy slippers and robe you’ll find in the walk-in cedar-wood wardrobe and cosy up with a magazine on your king-size bed made from solid oak.
Leaded windows that let in natural light, eye-catching stone hearths and silver claw-foot rolltop baths make upgrading to a suite all the more worthwhile. Go all out with a Major General White Suite, which has a hand-made mahogany four-poster bed and a separate lounge – you’ll also have stunning views of the Croaghgorm mountains. Other options are equally luxe. Disocover marble en suites featuring his and hers sinks with toiletries by Irish-based Handmade Soap Company being just some of the extras. The Tower Suite is spread over three floors, accessed by a private staircase, with an open-plan Art Decor-style bathroom.
Packages and last-minute deals are available at Lough Eske Castle, putting 5-star luxury within reach. Whether you want to make a saving on a midweek break, or help make sure your engagement proposal goes off without a hitch, this is the place to come.

Lough Eske Castle

Top rated
Donegal Town
9.4 Excellent (1542 reviews)

Unparalleled dining options at this 5-star hotel in Donegal

Lough Eske makes the most of its Wild Atlantic Way setting by sourcing seafood, meat and vegetables from the local surroundings. There’s a sense of simplicity to the menus at each of its restaurants, coupled with a dose of – you guessed it – luxury.

For a celebration, Cedars Grill is the hotel’s flagship eatery, with views of the pristine castle gardens through its wide windows. Ask servers for a seat at one of the floor-to-ceiling velvet booths (the modern equivalent of dining on a throne) if you’re treating your other half. Go for innovative fish dishes like pine-cured salmon served with gin tonic gel and Irish trout caviar or satisfyingly hearty meat-based meals such as the stewed venison winter pot with roasted artisan sausage. The wine list focuses on vintages from the New World – ask the knowledgeable staff for recommendations if you’d like to try something out of the ordinary.

You could round off a meal with a Smithwick’s ale at the Oak Bar, with its stone floors and sink-into-soft leather armchairs. It’s ideal for a quiet drink and for watching live sports events. You’ll also find a snooker table here for a casual tournament with friends. Or go high class at cocktail corner in the Gallery Bar, where some of the signature drinks take on an Irish slant with a splash of local liquor such as Tullamore Dew – perhaps accompanied by a Malteser cheesecake. Music performances make for a lively atmosphere on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

For a traditional treat, order afternoon tea in the comfy Lobby Lounge or one of the drawing rooms. The sandwich selection is really tempting, with options like mini bagels filled with caramelised pear, brie and walnut. Some of the desserts have a floral theme, like orange-blossom financiers and hibiscus tartlets. Private dining is also available if you’ve got a wedding or big birthday coming up that deserves to be celebrated in extraordinary surroundings.

A 5-star spa with an infinity pool at Lough Eske Castle hotel in Donegal

From the light-filled pool area to the seven ambient treatment rooms, the hotel’s Spa Solis is designed for some serious relaxation. An air of peace and quiet spreads through the atmosphere here – just the thing for some well-deserved R&R on your getaway. Take a treatment and you’ll have automatic access to the Thermal Suite, letting you revive and refresh both body and mind in the heat of the jet bath, steam room, sauna and sanarium.

Wake your skin up with an ice fountain, then warm yourself on the mosaic-tiled heated bench or the tropical experience showers. If you’re planning to use the infinity pool (open to all guests who book a room at the hotel) just make sure to bring a swimming cap as otherwise there’s a charge for rental. There’s also a cardio-focused fitness centre, so you can work off all the indulgences of Lough Eske’s dining areas.

The menu focuses on facials and massages – try the Cyro Time Freeze Facial by Anne Semonin, which uses ice-cold cryotherapy to rejuvenate skin cells, for the very latest in cutting-edge skin care. If you’re craving a deep state of relaxation, a hot-stone massage using volcanic pebbles as extensions of the masseuse’s hands is a soothing choice.

Those all-important finishing touches, whether a Jessica manicure or an in-depth make-up lesson, will prep you for a special dinner later on. Alternatively, for an option that combines a nourishing application of essential oils with a blissful Ayurvedic head massage, try the 25 minute hair treatment to feel totally relaxed.

A 5-star base for exploring County Donegal

With such inviting facilities, it might be tempting to stay indoors all weekend at Lough Eske. But serene surroundings await outside, starting with the hotel’s 40 acres of grounds. The gardens here are neatly kept, with manicured lawns and herb-lined borders – take a pre-lunch stroll and admire the greenery. Nearby, there’s also Lough Eske, the lake that the manor house takes its name from, for fishing and swimming.

Glenveagh National Park and Castle, an hour’s drive from the hotel, is always worth a wander in the hopes of seeing the salmon making their journey upriver or golden eagles swooping across the sky. Ireland’s biggest herd of red deer lives here, too, so it really is a fantastic spot for nature lovers.

If you’d like to stay a bit closer to Lough Eske Castle, head to Donegal Town, a 10 minute drive or bus journey away. You can walk from the town across the bay to Bundoran – and even on to Glencolmcille if you’re feeling energetic. The cliffs of Sliabh Liag, a whopping 600 metres above sea level, are around a 45 minute journey from the hotel by car.

Staff at the castle can arrange all sorts of fun water-based activities, including surfing lessons along the coastline. More of a landlubber? There’s guided horse riding and hill walking, or you can channel the former townspeople of Donegal and their traditional workmanship by trying a bit of tweed weaving.

Golfers won’t be disappointed, either – there’s a course known as Ireland’s answer to Muirfield less than a 20 minute drive from the hotel. Donegal Golf Club (one of Northern Irish PGA legend Darren Clarke’s favourites) with its rolling dunes and impressive sea views, is here on the Murvagh peninsula. You’ll regularly find it listed in the top 20 courses across the British Isles, and it has one of Europe’s longest fairways.

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