County Kerry is an enchanting part of Ireland’s southwest region. Its landscape features miles of rugged coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way, picturesque mountains that are both captivating and haunting, and a lush green countryside with farmlands, grazing sheep, and historic ruins. Many of its small towns and villages weave along the famous 111-mile Ring of Kerry driving route.
In these towns, you’ll find Irish pubs, quaint shops, bakeries and a mix of charming bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, boutique, and luxury accommodations. During my 10-day solo trip touring the Ring of Kerry, I discovered there are plenty of ways for a luxury traveler to stay in style.
Luxury Stay at Butler Arms Hotel
This boutique luxury hotel in County Kerry is along Ballinskelligs Bay in Waterville. It has been in operation for over 130 years and managed by fourth generation hoteliers. The Butler Arms Hotel has seen its share of famous guests, such as Walt Disney, JP Morgan, the cast of Star Wars, and Charlie Chaplin who vacationed in this seaside town with his family for over ten years.
The 36-room hotel features elegantly decorated standard and executive rooms with a garden or Atlantic view. For guests wanting the full experience, I suggest reserving an executive room with an Atlantic view. These spacious guestrooms have a large granite bathroom with heated floors and towel rails, a soaking tub and a shower, a cozy sitting area with a desk, and a window nook with view of the Atlantic.
Luxury Amenities You’ll Love at Butler Arms Hotel
For dining, there are three on-site options, Charlie’s Restaurant, Charlie’s Lounge, and Fisherman’s Bar, which specialize in fresh local seafood and meats. For a traditional Irish pub experience, head to Fisherman’s Bar. Specialty dishes include their Quinlan’s award-winning smoked salmon sandwich and Daly’s seafood sizzling crab claws. To quench your thirst, order a Guinness or their signature beer from a family recipe, the Huggard Pale Ale.
From the hotel, guests can easily walk to shops, eateries and the waterfront. Nearby activities include two premier golf courses, fishing, the Skelling Ring drive, and tours to the Skellig Islands.
Luxury Stay at Park Hotel Kenmare
This five-star hotel is steps away from the Heritage Town of Kenmare. It is part of Ireland’s Blue Book and has been privately owned and managed for over 120 years. The Park Hotel Kenmare has received many accolades, including “Best Hotel in Ireland” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines, and “Best Spa in Ireland” by Spafinder Wellness Award. Its current owner is a well-known hotelier and television personality Francis Brennan and his brother John.
The 46-room hotel features a variety of spacious and classicly decorated deluxe and superior rooms and suites. Most rooms have water views or a private porch. For those looking to spend a few days, I suggest reserving one of the suites which include a bedroom with a separate lounge and dining area, a large bathroom, and a small foray.
Luxury Amenities You’ll Love at Park Hotel Kenmare
Hotel amenities include an on-site restaurant and bar, an 18-hole golf course, 12-seat movie theater, garden, indoor heated pool, and a destination spa. With over a dozen activities such as daily lifestyle classes, guided garden walks, lawn croquet, horseback riding, scenic cruises of Kenmare Bay, and the town of Kenmare, you won’t find yourself lacking things to do.
One activity I highly recommend is a spa day at the award-winning Sámas Spa. The Sámas Experience includes your treatment of choice with your first hour in the thermal suite where you can sit in the sauna, cool down with the ice fountain, or soak in the vitality pool. After your one-hour treatment, you’ll be taken to an all-glass outdoor room to lounge with a cozy robe, warm blanket, light snacks, and soothing music.
Dining options include the hotel’s bar Bar & Cellar, a casual dining experience at The Terrace, and the Dining Room where guests can indulge in a multi-course tasting menu. Specialty dishes in The Terrace include Kenmare smoked salmon, Irish rib eye, and crab claws.
Luxury Stay at Parknasilla Resort & Spa
Tucked along Kenmare Bay, this four-star luxury hotel in Sneem and is part of the Original Irish Hotels. Built to be a hotel in 1897 and nestled on 500 acres, The Parknasilla Resort & Spa has impressive views of Kenmare Bay. It has won “Best Resort Hotel” and “Hotel of the Year” by Hospitality Ireland.
The hotel features 21 guestrooms and suites, 24 two-bedroom lodges and 38 three-bedroom villas, all with a water or woodland view. Depending on the room configuration, guests may choose to stay in the main historic house, or newer built accommodations on the property.
Guests wanting a unique experience will want to reserve the Princess Grace Suite, whose glamours namesake stayed there in 1961. The room features a bedroom with a king bed and a water view, a separate living area, and two balconies that showcase the fantastic view of Kenmare Bay.
Luxury Amenities You’ll Love at Parknasilla Resort & Spa
The property’s extensive grounds include ten mapped walking trails, with options for children, island hopping and a visit to castle ruins. There is also an onsite restaurant and bar, a 12-hole golf course, exceptional spa, and recreational opportunities such as boating, archery, and kayaking.
For a day of pampering and relaxation, head to The Spa at Parknasilla Resort. The facilities include 12 treatment suites, a thermal suite with experience showers, an ice fountain, aromatherapy steam rooms, and heated loungers, an indoor heated pool, and outdoor hot tub.
For a romantic dinner, reserve a window table at The Pygmalion Restaurant at sunset. Guests may choose items a la carte or a four-course tasting meal. I suggest picking the tasting menu whose creations often include Dingle crab, Kery lamb, and pan-seared Cork duck.
A Charming Airport Stay
For a charming countryside guest house close to Shannon Airport look no further than Carrygerry Country House. This welcoming country inn has 11 en-suite bedrooms and an award-winning restaurant (open on select days). Best of all, it is a nine-minute drive from the airport!
Getting Around Ireland
With so many off-the-beaten-path locations, Ireland is a country you’ll want experience by car. For some travelers, this means driving on the opposite side of the road. After some time driving, I found that not to be that difficult to navigate. It also means driving along modern highways, mountain passes and single lane roads that require using a pullout to let oncoming traffic pass. Whatever roads you wander down, think of it as part of your Ireland adventure.
For my solo trip, I used Auto Europe. They found me the perfect car, which was also an automatic. They work with all major car rental companies to get the best deal and made my car rental pickup and delivery at Shannon Airport super easy.
Find more information about the Wild Atlantic Way and The Ring of Kerry. Read more about travels in Ireland on Wander here.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations, meals, car rental, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.