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No.5 Carton House, Co. Kildare (2008 position 4)
Photography: Getty Images
Rooms & Suites: 165 Price: €230 Courses: 2 - Montgomerie, O'Meara W: cartonhouse.com Best for: Luxury, Couples, Families, Small Groups
The history of Carton Estate just 15 miles west of Dublin dates back over 800 years and the demesne has a colourful history. Home to the FitzGerald family then the Earls of Kildare, the house has welcomed guests from Queen Victoria to Grace Kelly. Carton House offers fine dining, fishing and cycling on the 1,100 acre estate as well as two superb golf courses. Designed by eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie, the Montgomerie Course was used for the Irish Opens of 2005 and 2006. Inspired by the links, the layout features sweeping fairways, deep bunkers and sloping greens. It's a relatively open course where crosswinds are a factor and an emphasis is placed on shot-making. The O'Meara course is a parkland creation by the 1998 Open and Masters champion Mark O'Meara. With many holes played along the banks of the beautiful River Rye, this is a testing and striking layout. On both the par-5 15th and par-3 16th, approach shots must carry all the way to the greens over water. Off course, guests can enjoy a range of activities including off-road driving, fishing, tennis and cycling. There's a salubrious spa as well as top-drawer dining options.