Gourmet’s getaway in Ireland’s wild and rugged Burren.
THE FIRST SURPRISE about Gregans Castle is that it’s not a castle. Instead, this mellow 250-year old country manor looking right across Galway Bay is one of Ireland’s hottest gourmet destinations.
Set in the midst of Ireland’s magnificent Burren landscape, Gregans has played home to a score of Hollywood stars (past guests have included Sharon Stone, Kathleen Turner and Steven Spielberg), as well as walkers and country-life lovers.
Hospitality, top-notch dining and away-from-it-all quiet are the themes of this ivy-clad stone house at the foot of Corkscrew Hill. Big-bedded bedrooms and suites come with every comfort, and are done out in classic country house style. All are different in size and feel, and most have great views of the Burren.
Hit the spot
Halfway between Kerry and Connemara in the rugged Burren.
Take a Superior room or suite. The Martyn suite (with garden) and Laurel room have four-posters, while Mina's has great bay views.
Bedrooms are TV-free zones. Dining is top-notch – it’s not the place for casual eats.
Hospitable oasis with top gourmet credentials.
Sizzling turf fires
Generously sized Superior rooms have their own seating area (though no TV) and roomy bathrooms. Two of the Junior suites have their own private garden areas while a third has magnificent views over Galway Bay. Premier suites have their own sitting room and BOSE sound system, while the upstairs Galway Bay suite enjoys sweeping vistas.
Downstairs, you’ll find a variety of drawing rooms to relax in or play board games on rainy days – plus a lounge bar where afternoon tea and drinks are served, and where a turf fire usually sizzles in the hearth. Watch the setting sun travel across Galway Bay and strike the grey limestone mountains from here on summer evenings.
Gregans is something of a gourmand’s paradise, thanks to the talents of up-and-coming Finnish chef Mikhael Viljanen. If you’re into your food, worth splashing out on dinner – and we’re not talking hearty country fare here. Look forward to modern Irish and European cuisine cooked with flair and finesse by a talented and award-winning team.
Outside, work off your excesses on woodland paths in the hotel’s borrowed landscape gardens or get to know resident donkeys Thomas and Bubbles. Home to prolific wildlife, the Burren is a haven for birdwatchers and botanists – just count the different kinds of butterflies.
Friendly staff add to the hospitable air at Gregans Castle – an oasis of comfort amid the dramatic seascapes and wilderness of the Burren.
Gregans Castle was reviewed by Room for Romance
Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.
Chef Mickael Viljanen has put Gregans firmly on the gourmet dining map, with his inventive celebration of local produce, and exquisite six course tasting menu. Organic Burren lamb and beef are specialities, are Atlantic fish and shellfish. There are commanding views over Galway Bay from the dining room.
Start off with drinks in the Corkscrew bar, with its peat fireplace, where you’ll probably get the chance to meet some fellow guests.
Local pubs are famous for the traditional Irish music, and many serve tasty pub fare. Try the local amber nectar at O’Lochlain’s Whiskey Bar in Ballyvaughan.
The Dining Room at Gregans Castle.
Inventive dishes include loin of rabbit with canneloni of sweetbreads, or neck of lamb served with baby squid. Round off with a tangy blood orange souffle.
By the window, soaking up the commanding views over Galway Bay.
See & Do
You’re close to Europe’s most dramatic cliffs at Moher, where you might spot dolphins (and whales, if you’re lucky) in the distance. Hop aboard an hour-long cruise beneath the cliffs from Doolin or Liscannor, take a day trip to the time-warp Aran islands, go surfing or try some sea angling. The Burren is a popular spot for cycling, walking and horse riding, and not far from County Clare’s big golfing meccas of Lahinch, Gort and Doonbeg. Or get a glimpse of the subterranean Burren at Aillwee cave.
Gregans works closely with a small number of therapists, and in-room massage treatments can be arranged.
Dates Early May
Ballyvaughan village celebrates the onset of summer in The Burren in Bloom.
Bet on a winner at the big Galway Races.
Slurp some of the west coast’s top seafood at Clarinbridge Oyster Festival.
Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland
There is free guest parking.
Ennis station – 23 miles.
EUR 70 from Shannon Airport.
Airport Shannon – 36 miles. Ryanair flies to Shannon from a number of UK and continental airports. Galway Airport is also within an hour's drive.
Rooms and suites
15 rooms and 5 suites
Classically decorated rooms have views over the bay, garden or mountain. Each has a shower and bathtub, luxury toiletries and fluffy robes.
Premier suites have their own sitting room and BOSE sound system. There’s a laptop with wi-fi available for guests’ use.
EUR 195 - 235, including breakfast.
Closed early December – mid February
Minimum night stay?
Served until 10am. Try the Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon or pancakes as well as the well stocked buffet. Breakfast can be served in your room for an extra charge.
Available morning and evening.
Welcome. Under 7s must dine at 6pm.
Dogs welcome by arrangement. Two dog-friendly rooms with an outdoor area are available, though dogs are not allowed in public areas.
Yes. Civil ceremonies take place in the Drawing room, and nearby Noughaval church is recommended for a traditional service. Up to 70 guests can be catered for on an exclusive use basis, and the gardens are a great place for pictures, against the backdrop of the Burren.