The fairytale-like Waterford Castle Hotel is arguably one of the finest castle hotels in Ireland.
Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort is where you go for the very best of Irish hospitality in a glorious setting.
Award-winning restaurants, elegant bedrooms, a championship golf course and proximity to Waterford City make this a wonderful place for a weekend escape in luxurious surroundings.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know if you’re debating a visit to the hotel or the Waterford Castle Lodges.
Some quick need-to-knows about Waterford Castle Hotel
So, a visit to Waterford Castle is a little less straightforward than you may think, and that’s because it sits on its very own private island.
Waterford Castle Hotel is set on a 310-acre private island and is accessible via a short crossing on the resort’s private car ferry over the King’s Channel, which takes two minutes and operates 24/7.
2. The hotel
A lot of people think Waterford Castle is a tourist attraction, but it’s a hotel (one of the best hotels in Waterford, as it happens!). The current site was once the ancestral home of the Fitzgerald family for 800 years and the castle itself dates to the 16th century.
3. A very lavish spot for a break
From luxury rooms to gourmet two-night packages and golf thrown in, Waterford Castle & Golf Resort is the perfect place to indulge yourself. There are just 19 bedrooms, so an escape here offers relative peace and quiet.
4. A unique base to explore from
As the hotel is so close to Waterford city, there is plenty to do, and you can also take advantage of the activities the hotel offers. Golf is the obvious one, but you can also plan croquet and tennis, take part in clay pigeon shooting or just explore the island.
Waterford Castle History
As the island is positioned so near to Waterford city, it has played an important part in Irish history since ancient times. In the early days of Christianity, monks settled there in the 6th century, while Vikings lived there in the 9th to 11th. In 1170, the Normans invaded Ireland and Maurice Fitzgerald became the potentate of Ireland, his descendants staying there for some 800 years.
Kings of Ireland
The Fitzgeralds were said to be the Kings of Ireland in all but name during the 15th and 16th centuries and held many feasts and banquets at their home on the island.
The well-known socialite Mary Frances Fitzgerald made the castle famous in 18th century social circles and was at one point, engaged to the Duke of Wellington.
Mary Augusta de Lisle Purcell Fitzgerald (1908-1968) was the last of that name to own the castle, selling it to the Igoe family in 1958. They installed a complex of glass houses where they grew fruit and flowers and commissioned the ferry to transport residents and visitors to the island.
In 1987, Eddie Kearns bought the island outright and developed the castle into a luxury hotel and country club, selling it to a business consortium.
It was later bought by the current owner, local man Seamus Walsh, in 2015, and there are plans to restore the 1870 farm buildings and stable yards to their former glory.
Fast forward many years to 2021 and Waterford Castle is widely regarded as one of the most impressive Irish castle hotels.
The Bedrooms at Waterford Castle
From classic rooms to deluxe and presidential suites, you’ll find lovely accommodation here, all kitted out with opulent furnishing and period décor.
The presidential suite combines old world style with grand luxury. Antique furnishing, paintings, Waterford Crystal chandeliers and a four-poster bed are all to be enjoyed, and the original cast-iron windows overlook the splendid green lawn, parklands and forest walk.
Waterford Castle Lodges
If you don’t fancy staying in the hotels, there are 45 Waterford Castle Lodges to choose from, each of which boasts everything you need for a self-catering weekend away.
The Waterford Castle Lodges have three spacious double bedrooms, with each capable of sleeping six people, and each Lodge has everything from outdoor dining areas and a private veranda that overlooks the gold course to a living room with a TV.
Those saying in the Waterford Castle Lodges also have access to the castle itself and it’s many dining options, so you get the best of both worlds.
Things To Do At Waterford Castle
On the island, there are nature trails to follow, a golf course, a driving range, tennis/basketball courts, a playground and lawn croquet.
You can also book in to fly a trained hawk where the trained falconer will teach you how to recall a hawk from the treetops to your gloved hand.
Waterford Castle has a kids club during the school holidays and there is also a junior golf camp on selected dates. You can book for family picnic baskets to take full advantage of the island’s nature trails and there is a fairy walk where the kids can look out for Eliza the Fairy…
Dining At Waterford Castle
Dining at Waterford Castle offers visitors the chance to taste the best of traditional and contemporary Irish cuisine. You have plenty of options – from casual lunches to afternoon teas and fine dining, all of which use the finest seasonal and locally sourced Irish produce.
1. Munster Room Restaurant
The Munster Room Restaurant has two AA rosettes and a place on McKenna’s 100 Best Restaurants 2019. The team works to create intensely flavoured dishes including spatchcocked quail, fillet of beef served with beef cheek pie and blackberry parfait.
2. Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea at the Waterford Castle Hotel is made up of three courses – warm scones served with clotted cream and jam, sandwiches, and desserts, served with a selection of teas or coffee. The Cream Tea is a lighter option that consists of pastries with tea or coffee. All items are handmade by the pastry chefs onsite.
3. Fitzgerald Bar
The Fitzgerald Bar offers a range of drinks including cocktails, premium whiskeys and an extensive wine bar. You can also have an a la carte lunch there.
Things to do near Waterford Castle
One of the beauties of Waterford Castle Hotel is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best places to visit in Waterford.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Waterford Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Ireland’s oldest city
Waterford City is just down the road from the hotel and there is plenty to do and see here. There’s the Medieval Museum, Bishop’s Palace, the Waterford Crystal Factory and the Viking Triangle. There’s also plenty of restaurants in Waterford and plenty of great pubs in Waterford, too!
2. The Waterford Greenway
If you’re feeling energetic, why not explore the Waterford Greenway, a spectacular 46-kilometre off-road cycling trail that takes the route along an old railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan?! Bikes, hybrid bikes, electrical bikes and tag along trailers are all available for hire.
3. The Copper Coast
The Copper Coast Drive offers the tourist panoramic seascapes, cliffs, bays and coves and passes through many picturesque villages before finishing in the seaside resort of Tramore. There is also an outdoor museum of geological records as this area took some 460 million years to create and volcanoes, oceans, deserts and ice sheets combined to form the rocks you see here now.
FAQs about visiting Waterford Castle
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from whether the Waterford Castle Lodges are worth the €€€€ to how to reach the island itself.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
How do I get to Waterford Castle?
You need to take the ferry. There’s a 24/7 service and the journey takes just 2 minutes in total.
Is Waterford Castle Hotel worth staying in?
Yes, Waterford Castle Hotel is well worth staying in. A night here is a unique experience, and it begins from the moment you board the ferry to the private island.
Are the Waterford Castle Lodges any good?
We’ve heard good things about Waterford Castle Lodges from a couple of people that have stayed there, although we The Team here hasn’t any first hand experience with them.
Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.