The Lodge at Castle Leslie

Co. Monaghan, Ulster, Ireland Book from

Victorian lodge in the grounds of the Castle Leslie estate, with state-of-the-art equestrian centre, spa and acres of Irish border country
When Sammy Leslie took custody of her family’s crumbling ancestral pile in 1992, she faced a conundrum: how to save the estate without selling out. The castle roof was leaking, the land was running wild, County Monaghan was a bit too close to ‘the troubles’, and there was no money in the bank. But she was determined to turn the place around without losing an ounce of its character or losing a single square inch of her legacy.

Her dream realised, the 1,000-acre estate now provides an ‘equestrian playground’, with a riding school and 21 miles of cross-country rides. The Lodge - featured here - offers luxury accommodation in the original Victorian house and a newer wing, as well as a fabulous organic spa, a cathedral-like restaurant, and a good old-fashioned Irish pub. One of the very few Irish country houses that remain in family ownership, the place is not just a taste of the real Ireland, but a big generous dollop.


  • Long walks around a vast walled estate, ancient woodlands, a tranquil lake - you don’t really need to go anywhere else
  • The Snaffles Restaurant: European-meets-Irish cuisine and a lively atmosphere
  • The horses, the stables, the miles of bridleways - for keen riders, it doesn’t get much better than this
  • Flexible accommodation to suit all, including families


  • The so-called ‘Victorian spa’ fails to deliver an authentic period feel, although the organic treatments are the real thing
  • With the stables on one side and the bar’s outdoor terrace on the other, some of the rooms in the new wing can be a little noisy
  • The estate gets its fair share of society weddings and corporate gatherings - most of which take place in the Castle and the Mews buildings respectively

Best time to go

The estate, and its acres of woodland, is at its most beautiful in the spring and autumn, but this an all-year-round destination. The weather is warmer (but not necessarily dryer) in the summer and winter can be really cosy - a case of snuggling up with a hot toddy in armchair next to an open fire.

Our top tips

Try and come for 3 nights - just enough time to explore the estate (on foot or on horseback), enjoy the restaurants and the spa. If you want to ride, bring whatever gear you have (otherwise they can provide a limited range of boots, hats and tack), stout walking boots, umbrella and/or waterproofs for rainy-day walks.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 29
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • 1000-acre estate


Named after favourite estate horses (Ryan, Frosty, Sweeny, Pluto), the hotel’s rooms are split between a 2-storey wing, and a restored Victorian Lodge - a handsome Gothic cut-stone building clad in Virginia creeper, just inside the castle gates. The newer rooms are arranged on 2 levels, linked by long corridors, and though these make the place look a wee bit corporate, the rooms come in a variety of shapes, sizes and bold colour schemes (a warm hunting-jacket red, pea green, gold, taupe and black).

The décor is Country Life with attitude - upholstered chairs, fringed and tasselled drapes, the odd antique desk or wardrobe, lots of horse-and-hound prints. Deluxe kingsize beds (usually 2 singles zipped together) are dressed with crisp white linen, plush velvet throws and piles of matching cushions. We particularly liked the buttoned brown leather headboards, which gave an old-saddle look. If you love the gee gees, choose a room with a view of the stables; some have terraces and balconies overlooking the courtyard, clocktower and a weather vane which used to belong to Ascot racecourse.

The original bedrooms are a little larger and generally quieter, with a more traditional Victorian feel - French polished furniture, brass chandeliers, gilt mirrors, damask throws, silk drapes and rich colours (olive, cobalt, aquamarine, mauve).

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Iron
  • Tv
  • WiFi


There are 2 places to eat - Snaffles Restaurant and Conor’s Bar - one above the other in the new wing of the Lodge. They're both under the command of the estate’s talented head chef, Andrew Bradley, and offer inexpensive, unpretentious food in a busy, buzzy atmosphere. You will need to book ahead, because both places are often packed with locals, especially at weekends.

Snaffles (awarded 2 AA Rosettes) is a relaxing yet elegant eatery housed in a cathedral-like mezzanine space, with a striking glass wall and white-clothed tables under soaring oak beams. Food is locally sourced and might include seared breast of Irish wood pigeon, terrine of rabbit with wild mushrooms, braised rare breed pork plate, roast breast of duck and roast loin of estate venison.

The more informal Conor’s Bar is based on a traditional Irish pub, and aside from being an authentic Glaslough local, offers lunches, bar snacks, afternoon tea and early evening meals from a menu which majors on good, solid comfort food (Hunting Lodge paté, steak and Guinness pie with creamy ‘champ’; pork and leek sausages with stout gravy, sticky toffee pudding). Here, you can perch on a bar stool or sink into a leather armchair by an open fire; or there is a terrace for outdoor dining in the summer.

Breakfast, served in Snaffles, offers a buffet of cereals, yoghurts, juices, fresh fruit, pastries and a choice of cooked dishes: hot oats with berry topping, Irish smoked salmon with scrambled egg, pancakes with maple syrup.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Activity: Falconry


  • You don’t have to ride to enjoy this place, but it seems crazy not to. With a choice of horses to suit all abilities (from lively trotters to go-slow ‘armchairs’), the Equestrian centre offers a range of riding experiences
  • The Victorian spa offers a range of plant-and-mineral based natural treatments: try a Chocolate Truffle Wrap, a Pear and Green Apple Steam massage or a Woodland Wild Garlic Facial
  • Take a look around County Monaghan: the Patrick Kavanagh Rural and Literary Resource Centre at Inniskeen (the poet’s birthplace), lace-making at Carrickmacross, or the drumlins (little hills) of Clones
  • There’s lots more to see and do in this pretty and diverse corner of Ireland. For a more comprehensive guide, check out our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding


Pony-mad children will love it here, and there are heaps of things to do both on the estate and nearby which cater for those less keen on all things equine (there's a playground, tennis and basketball courts onsite for starters). Both the rooms and the restaurants are family friendly, and the riding school offers special packages for young riders and beginners (7 years or over). Works well as a romantic break for new parents too - strap the baby carrier on and take a gentle wander around the estate.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

You can add an extra bed to any room for an extra cost. Under 2s, if sleeping in a cot, go free

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Small group riding lessons
  • Playground
  • Tennis court
  • Basketball court
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Clay pigeon shooting

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Bike hire
  • Theatres, bowling and cinema in Monaghan
  • Hiking

Families Should Know:

The lodge isn't particularly child-proofed and there are wide open staircases, roaring open fires and a lake. Keep an eye on children


  • Airport: 1.5 hours (Belfast), 2 hours (Dublin)
  • Doctors: 10 minutes
  • Hospital: 12 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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