Located in the picturesque village of Glaslough in County Monaghan, Castle Leslie Estate is the perfect choice for a luxury escape or romantic getaway. It’s one of the finest castle estates in Ireland and its idyllic setting provides the opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy the beautiful Irish countryside in style!
We were lucky enough to enjoy a stay at Castle Leslie, having been gifted a voucher from a family member. As it’s a bit of a distance from where we’re based in the midlands, we decided to make the most of our trip and spent a couple of days exploring nearby Armagh city beforehand. So when we arrived at Castle Leslie, we had every intention of doing as little as possible!
Which was just as well really, because the weather was totally miserable when we got there. Going outside wasn’t really going to be an option without getting a thorough drenching. Thankfully, it’s not exactly a hardship being stuck inside at Castle Leslie.
And as you can see from the photos the sun did come out for us the following day, so we got the best of both worlds!
The Leslie Family
Castle Leslie Estate has been home to the Leslie family since the 1660s. Like Huntington Castle in Carlow, it is one of only a few Irish Castle Estates that is still owned by the founding family.
That might not have been the case, without the vision and drive of the current owner, Samantha or Sammy Leslie. Though Sammy grew up on the estate, it was run down and in need of a lot of work. In her 20s, she first opened a tearoom and used the income for necessary repairs.
Sammy has continued to work tirelessly to transform the estate, which is now home to a multi-award winning hotel and spa, a world-class equestrian centre and more.
I don’t know where she gets her energy from but perhaps it runs in the family. Sammy’s Uncle, Sir John Leslie, affectionately called Uncle Jack, was well-known for his love of dance music and clubbing in his later years. He even celebrated his 85th birthday in Ibiza at the world’s biggest nightclub.
Sir John’s Heritage Room, one of the bedrooms in the castle, is named after him and apparently there’s even a glitter ball in the bathroom to celebrate his love of ‘Boom Boom’ music!
There are 20 rooms in the castle and many of them are named after family members. Each room is decorated in a unique way and we had no idea which one we would be staying in, so I was eager to check in and find out!
We were shown to Aggie’s Room, named after the actress Agnes Bernelle who was Desmond Leslie’s first wife. Agnes was also a cabaret singer and the decor of the room very much fits the theatre/cabaret theme, complete with thick red drapes and spotlights around the mirror. Old posters, of productions that Agnes starred in, decorate the bathroom too.
The highlights were the gorgeous four poster bed and the claw foot bath though. I couldn’t help but think of the Princess and the Pea children’s story. I think it’s the first time I haven’t been able to touch the floor when sitting on a bed. It was so comfy too. In case you can’t tell, I was pretty happy!
You won’t find any minibar inside the castle rooms. There’s no TV or radio either. It’s not all low tech though. Instead of the usual folder with guest information, each of the rooms has a tablet with all the info you need. WIFI is available in both the bedrooms and public areas.
Other Accommodation Options
Castle Leslie offers a number of accommodation options and there are also room available at The Lodge as well as The Old Stable Mews and Village Cottages.
The Lodge is located at the entrance of the estate in a beautifully restored period building. It has 50 bedrooms, which are described as ‘chic and boutique’. The lodge is a pretty lively spot as it houses the bar and restaurants, as well as the Victorian Treatment Rooms. It’s also next to the equestrian centre. Check rates and availability for The Lodge at Castle Leslie.
The Old Stable Mews and Village Cottages
Located within the estate, in the restored coach house, are 2 bedroomed mews. You can choose to self-cater or book a package including a breakfast basket and dinner on one night of your stay.
The Village Cottages offer 4 and 5 bedroom accommodation nearby in the village of Glaslough, just a few minutes walk from the entrance to the estate.
Afternoon Tea at Castle Leslie
We had decided to indulge in afternoon tea, so after unpacking our few things (and of course taking a few pics before we messed up the room) we went to fill our bellies!
Our afternoon tea was served in the Blue Room, with beautiful with large windows looking out over the pleasure gardens and Glaslough Lake. At busier times I think the adjoining conservatory is used too.
There was just one other couple for a while and the tables are quite close. It felt like we were all trying to talk quietly, so as not be overhead or interrupt the peace. A little background music would have been perfect and I’m pretty sure when I walked through later on there was music playing, so perhaps it had just been forgotten.
Once the afternoon tea arrived we were distracted by that anyway. If you don’t have a sweet tooth I would say that perhaps the afternoon tea is not for you. I’m pretty much made up of sweet teeth, so it was right up my alley. It’s hard to believe that I once cut sugar out of my diet for 6 whole months. I think I might need to try that again!
Of course there was one tier of savouries, but after that it was mainly sweet. Even the scones came with cream, jam and lemon curd so they definitely weren’t savoury when I loaded them up. They were also served alongside the most delicious carrot cake. All that before we even got to the top tier of desserts. Let’s just say it was definitely time for a lie down after all that!
Canapes and Welcome drinks
We may not have surfaced again were it not for the welcome drinks. At 5pm guests in the castle were invited to meet in the drawing room for bubbles and canapes. It’s a nice way to mingle with some of the other guests, though they were few in number. We stayed on a Monday night at the end of September, so it’s not surprising. I’m pretty sure it meant there was more bubbles to go around though, so I certainly wasn’t complaining!
Like much of the castle, there are lost of interesting things to see in the drawing room. Family photos, portraits and other memorabilia fill the room. I was quite surprised to find myself looking at the christening gown of Winston Churchill though, until I discovered that he was related to the family.
Exploring the Castle!
After the drinks we did actually borrow an umbrella and venture outside for a little stroll. It was a pretty short walk considering everything was soggy and muddy and the rain was still hosing down. We returned to the castle after about 20 minutes and just explored inside instead.
It’s actually really fascinating to just wander around the castle and have a look at the the artwork, furnishings and stunning interiors. We took the back stairs up to the cinema room, which looked like the perfect option for a rainy day. There was also a nearby room with a billiards table.
Some articles about the family had been clipped from newspapers or magazines and were framed and placed on the wall, which made for an interesting read. We also came across some very cool old features of the castle, like the servants bells. Very Downton Abbey!
There are so many beautiful rooms to relax in, where you can while away a couple of hours reading. In fact you could easily just spend a few hours browsing through the huge collection of books in the library room.
Dining at Castle Leslie
There are two options for dining at Castle Leslie Estate, both located at The Lodge. You can choose from relaxed and casual dining in Conor’s Bar or a more formal affair in the 2 AA Rosette award-winning Snaffles Restaurant. With afternoon tea in the not so distant past, we chose to go with something light at Conor’s Bar.
It turned out to be a good thing that I wasn’t very hungry as there wasn’t even one veggie (or vegan) option under the mains, or Large Plates as they are called on the menu. That was pretty disappointing though there were a few veggie options under sandwiches, sides & salads. I have to admit though, the tomato & burrata salad I ordered was really very delicious.
After dinner we popped into the pub in town, where the constant rain had done nothing to dampen spirits. In fact, celebrations were in full swing as Glaslough had just been announced as the winner of the annual Tidy Towns competition. Not quite the usual scenes you would see on a Monday night I’m sure, but a lot of fun!
Activities around the Estate
During your stay at Castle Leslie you can do as little, or as much, as you want! Perhaps a visit to the spa for a treatment is as energetic as you want to get. If not, there are plenty of options to choose from.
You can try horse riding, clay target shooting, falconry, archery or even book a magical experience in a hot air balloon. Or maybe you’d like to take a boat out on Glaslough Lake, with or without a fishing rod, depending on your preference.
There are also a number of walking trails around the estate and the village. We were lucky enough to wake up to sunshine on our second day so we got to explore a little ourselves.
Famous Guests at Castle Leslie
As you might expect, many famous people have stayed at Castle Leslie over the years. There have been numerous members of Royalty including Queen Margaret of Sweden, while other guests have included W.B. Yeats, Mick Jagger and Michael Collins.
In 2002, the Castle Leslie made the headlines when Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills were married here. Their ceremony was held in the 17th century St. Salvator’s Church on the estate. Guests included Ringo Starr, Jools Holland, Sir Elton John, Chrissie Hynde and many more famous faces.
Be sure to take a stroll around beautiful Glaslough village while you are there. It’s quaint, very picturesque and as you now know, very tidy!
And I hate to mention food again but I had been looking forward to trying the chocolate from the Glaslough Chocolate Company. Unfortunately it was locked up tight, with a sign in the window which revealed they were closed for holidays.
All was not lost though, we discovered some locally made and delicious looking gelato in Pocono Cafe. It goes without saying that it had to be tasted. I went for the Bounty flavour and José got the honeycomb. It did not disappoint.
Time to Say Goodbye!
Unfortunately, all to soon, it was time to head back to the castle to pack up and go. We really had the best time though. From the wonderful staff, to the gorgeous surroundings and the old world grandeur of the castle, everything was top class.
I’d highly recommend Castle Leslie if you’re looking for a special place to have a break or a romantic getaway. As for me, I’ll obviously have to go back to sample the chocolates, so there’s that to look forward to!
Castle Leslie Estate is just 80 minutes from Dublin or 60 minutes from Belfast. It’s located off the N2, about a 10 minute drive from Monaghan town and 15 mins from Armagh City.