Take a look at our list of the top-50 places to stay and play in the UK and Ireland.
Top 50 UK & Ireland Stay and Play
Combining a round or two with a stay in a hotel is increasingly popular. To help narrow your search, we reveal our Top 50 UK & Ireland Stay and Play resorts.
Top 50 UK & Ireland Stay and Play
The renowned Perthshire hotel has long been known as the ‘Glorious Playground’, and it’s a truly fitting title. You will almost certainly experience goosebumps as you make the final turn to face the imposing front aspect of the main chateau-style hotel, where the traditional rooms contrast beautifully with the more contemporary ones in Braid House to your left.
The Glorious Playground proved more glorious than ever last September, when Catriona Matthew’s ladies reclaimed the Solheim Cup on the newest of the three courses – the PGA Centenary. This newcomer may not yet boast the reputation of James Braid’s King’s and shorter Queen’s layouts, but the views staring down the 1st hole to the rolling hills beyond are some of the finest on the 850-acre estate.
Braid’s contrasting masterpieces are cleverly designed, with drama at every turn, either within the holes themselves or in the surrounding scenery. They represent heathland golf at its finest, with a handful of blind shots, some stirring drives and more than the odd raised green to contend with, including the famous 1st on the King’s. But there is so much more to offer at the ‘Palace in the Glen’, as it was christened on opening back in 1924. Over the past three years, many millions have been invested in upgrading and improving the hotel’s dining facilities, from the Century Bar in the main hotel to the excellent Dormy Restaurant and Auchterarder 70 bar looking out over the final holes on the King’s and Queen’s.
Many of the renovations have sought to tap fully back into the glamour of railway travel in the ’20s and ’30s, and nowhere is that more evident than in the new American Bar and the Strathearn Restaurant.
The magnificent Ailsa Course was the beneficiary of a comprehensive and critically acclaimed upgrade under the skilful supervision of Martin Ebert in 2015. The course has subsequently risen to sit at the apex of the Golf Monthly Top 100. The most dramatic changes are those around the turn with the 9th now a quite spectacular par 3 along the clifftops. The lighthouse has also been transformed and is now serving as a perfect halfway house. Duly sustained, the back nine begins with an excellent par 5 following the cliffs and another breath-taking short hole at 11. In 2017, Ebert completed a reworking of the Kintyre Course, the highlight being a quartet of outstanding new holes at the far end. Now known as the King Robert the Bruce, it is the perfect complement to the Ailsa. The iconic hotel dates back to 1906 and has also been refurbished to the highest possible standard with suites, lodges and apartments, fine dining and much more. With all manner of sports and leisure activity on offer, this is a true, bucket-list golfing destination.
3. Adare Manor
The original parkland course at Adare Manor was designed by Robert Trent Jones 25 years ago. Straddling the fast-flowing River Maigue, it was always a lovely place to stay and play, but its purchase by JP McManus in 2015 led to an upgrade and improvement like no other. The bold decision was made to close the hotel and course for the best part of two years in order to conduct the most complete renovation conceivable. Tom Fazio was enlisted to redesign the course, and with the exception of the routing, everything was changed. State-of-the-art drainage caters for whatever the Irish weather can conjure up, while more expansive new bunkering serves up a strategic and visual feast. As at Augusta, to which it can now justifiably be compared, there is no rough to speak of, and the course will host what should be a spectacular 2026 Ryder Cup. A similarly lavish approach has been taken to the fairytale hotel, various dining options and non-golf activities, the result being a simply sensational golf resort.
The fabulous 1st at Doonbeg whets the appetite for a round of golf as much as any other opening hole. A par 5 played to a well-protected green that is superbly sited in the dunes, it sets the tone for what is a wonderful round overlooking Doughmore Bay in County Clare. The course opened 18 years ago as Greg Norman’s only design in the UK&I. Partly due to coastal erosion, it was revisited by Martin Hawtree following its purchase by the Trump Organisation in 2014. The result is a thoroughly modern links that boasts a tremendous selection of memorable holes on the wild, west coast of Ireland. Even if your game is off, it’s a joy to behold all the way. The distinctive and stylish hotel is at the southern end of the property overlooking the beach and course, and there are various accommodation options to suit all tastes. There is an intimate and friendly atmosphere in the bar and the Ocean View Restaurant, and the White Horses Spa offers a variety of invigorating treatments.
5. The Grove
London always needed a top-drawer golfing hotel, and The Grove is just the job as it is moments away from the M25. It opened in 2003, and unusually for golf in the UK it has no members and is effectively run as a very successful, upscale, pay-and-play. The gently undulating parkland course was designed by Kyle Phillips of Kingsbarns fame, and it is at the centre of a first-class hotel, business and leisure complex. The bunkering is excellent, and it can test the best while being playable by all. There are GPS-enabled buggies, and the well-stocked halfway house and drinks carts will keep you refreshed during your round. Water comes into play at the 3rd and 4th, each of which is a peach. On the back nine, both of the par 3s are very appealing, especially the 13th with its elevated tee. Dining options include the Glasshouse and the Stables, and the hotel has a fabulous array of rooms and suites.
6. Mount Juliet
Midway between Dublin in the east and Cork in the south, not only is Mount Juliet one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland, but many believe that the Jack Nicklaus design is the finest inland course in the country. The secluded setting is home to a country house hotel, a characterful clubhouse, various lodges, a Paul McGinley golf academy, an equestrian centre, fishing and archery, and of course, a majestic championship course. Having hosted two WGC events, one of which was won by Tiger Woods, this year it will be home to the prestigious Irish Open, a Rolex Series event. The course works its way through specimen trees, some of which border attractive but testing ponds and lakes, and is exceptionally pretty. Back in the manor house, the Michelin-starred Lady Helen restaurant is also a delight.
7. Old Course Hotel
St Andrews is a worldwide draw for lovers of links golf, but variety is the spice of life and the Duke’s Course, which is owned and operated by the Old Course Hotel, makes for a very fine alternative. The course itself is a couple of miles up the hill, and it was designed by five-time Open Champion, Peter Thomson. Its elevated position makes for excellent vistas, and it is characterised by distinctive and abundant bunkering. The hotel borders the 17th on the Old Course and its grounds must have received more wayward golf balls than any other. The luxurious five-star resort offers a variety of dining options, a spa and a swimming pool. The Road Hole bar is home to more than 300 whiskies and golfing packages are available. Right next door, the historic Jigger Inn is a firm favourite with golfers.
One of the finest and indeed toughest new designs in the last 20 years, this spectacular and no-holds-barred links will this summer celebrate its eighth birthday. It really is a remarkable achievement with Martin Hawtree belying the adage that you cannot create an instant classic. His rollercoaster ride through the towering dunes is enormous fun, and unusually for such a course, every hole is distinct and memorable. If the wind is up, the bunkering is likely to make scoring tough, but although it is severe, it is also very attractive. Everything is beautifully defined and the views from some of the tees - the 14th in particular - are simply outstanding. Trump MacLeod House and Lodge has already been awarded five stars, and there are packages available for those who want to indulge themselves, some of which include golf at other Golf Monthly Top 100 courses in the area.
9. Stoke Park
This beautifully manicured 300-acre estate dates back to way before Harry Colt was invited to design the course in 1908. Each of the three loops of nine has recently received a full bunkering makeover resulting in a far more visually and strategically dramatic experience with the Colt nine home to a pair of exceptional par 3s. The 3rd is played over a ditch to a well-bunkered green, while the 7th was the original model for MacKenzie’s 16th at Augusta National. The five-star hotel is premier league in every way with 21 rooms in the Mansion and a further 28 rooms and suites in the Pavilion where there is also a pool, Italian marble steam rooms, a sauna, a spa and gym. Tennis is a particular highlight, and there are three superb restaurants as well as all the facilities and activities you would hope for from a top-drawer resort.
10. Fairmont, St Andrews
This rolling 550-acre estate on the outskirts of the Home of Golf features an expansive, 209-bedroom, award-winning hotel and not one but two extremely enjoyable courses that offer an alternative to Fife’s premier league and historic links. The Torrance runs on slightly more elevated ground and its back nine has fine views towards St Andrews. It has a pair of signature holes at 16 and 17 that run down to and then along the cliff. The Kittocks has perhaps even more wow-factor with several absolute crackers such as the 7th, 9th and 15th, all of which work their way towards the Firth. The stylish and beautifully situated clubhouse is a stroll or shuttle-bus from the hotel, which offers a spa with a range of therapeutic treatments, a gym, swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and more. Even better, residents enjoy favourable and very reasonable green fees.
Strength and Depth
The UK & Ireland is blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to golfing getaways, as the remaining 40 entries in our list prove...
Three courses, including the famous Brabazon, all that Ryder Cup history and major hotel improvements keep The Belfry at golf’s top table.
The tranquility and beauty of the setting are matched by the hotel’s five-star grandeur and the delightful free-flowing beck meandering through the front nine.
Enjoy one of Wiltshire’s finest courses with a stay in the luxurious hotel, or maybe a family treat in the gorgeous Queenwood Lodge.
There are 46 exquisitely decorated rooms plus two fine courses, with a memorable short ferry crossing to the Melbourne course’s 18th green.
The course with the most thrilling finish in Open golf is home to a friendly and informal hotel right behind the 18th green.
Near Dublin, this lush estate boasts two top-flight modern courses in the grounds of a fabulous 18th-century mansion.
Enjoy the Twenty Ten’s famous water holes plus the Roman Road and Montgomerie layouts. Stay in the resort hotel, the cosier Manor House or the Hunter Lodges.
With its stylish Stables accommodation, this Golf Monthly Top 100 rollercoaster ride and 2020 British Masters host venue is packed with variety.
Stay and play on a grand scale in rooms furnished in a style befitting a castle. The beautiful parkland layout rolls through woodland and water.
This five-star resort’s fine parkland course offers back-nine drama aplenty, most memorably on the testing par-4 13th, which plays down and over water.
East Sussex National
This extremely attractive 1,100-acre estate is home to a large, multi-facility hotel and a pair of testing and enjoyable courses.
Forest of Arden
The Arden course has hosted many top-level tournaments, but the Aylesford is also great fun. An ideal hotel and country club for golfing groups of all sizes.
This beautiful parkland course has hosted three Irish Opens and the five-star hotel is a wonderful base when in southern Ireland.
This ever-improving Surrey country club boasts 45 holes of tree-lined golf, a spa, four award-winning restaurants and more.
The two courses on this famous Sussex estate include James Braid’s modified and renovated Downs course, with spectacular views over Chichester and beyond.
The distinctive red-brick manor house forms the backdrop to several back-nine holes on the flatter ground. By contrast, the front nine is quite a rollercoaster ride.
The K Club
Host of the emotional 2006 Ryder Cup, the K Club has two very interesting courses, a fabulous hotel and every type of leisure activity.
Sir Nick Faldo’s spectacular and exciting lough-side design on a 600-acre peninsula is accompanied by a prestigious five-star hotel.
The finest contemporary golf course redesign in the UK is a glorious, rolling links. The fully upgraded hotel makes this a must-play destination.
This thoroughly modern links offers a very different experience while the Ugadale Hotel is beautifully appointed and extremely comfortable.
This five-star hotel in picture-postcard Castle Combe is an absolute treasure, with its rolling layout boasting several memorable par 3s.
This grand stately home with three fine loops of nine offers a gentler walking experience than neighbours Slaley Hall and Close House.
This quintessentially Scottish baronial castle near Aberdeen is a magnificent place to stay and a glorious place to play, with its wonderfully varied layout.
The 18-hole Murrayshall course is complemented by the Lynedoch ten-holer, with major upgrades to the hotel enhancing the Murrayshall experience.
Enhanced by the luxurious Members’ Suites, there is no golf course more dramatic or literally more breathtaking in the UK & Ireland.
With its fine course, hotel and new self-catering apartments, health club and spa, this is a complete sporting destination.
The Point at Polzeath
Fresh investment and vision have taken The Point to a new level. Stay in the contemporary apartments or one of the well-equipped cottages.
Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links
Designed by Bernhard Langer, the course has been improved in recent times, as has the perfectly located golf hotel.
The revitalised Himalayas loop and ongoing enhancements to the Shore and Dunes make this constantly improving 38-room complex a superb venue.
Along with its five-star accommodation, spa, superb cuisine and other sporting activities, this challenging course is an excellent test.
The terrific Sandy Hills links and lovely Old course combine with the hotel to make this one of the best golf resorts anywhere.
This small, classy hotel exudes charm, with the golf on a grand parkland scale. Memorable holes include the dramatic 14th with its stirring viaduct backdrop.
Both courses here have tour history. The Hunting layout’s remote moorland feel is in harmony with the hotel’s away-from-it-all ambiance.
Off the beaten track, this attractive and varied parkland design is complemented wonderfully by a stylish four-star hotel.
Macdonald’s largest Scottish resort offers accommodation options to suit all and a magnificent 18-holeheathland course beside the Spey.
The famous Nicklaus course boasts many strong holes and a dramatic routing, with the hotel overlooking the testing 18th.
Major recent investment has elevated this hotel to a new level. Its lofty setting serves up fine views across to the Malverns and Wales.
The tip-top Championship course, scenic Headland nine-holer and multiple accommodation options make this a complete golf destination.
This 143-room hotel with its award-winning restaurant and spa is home to two very enjoyable and surprisingly contrasting courses.
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A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly.
Working with golf gear and equipment over the last six years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes.
He combines this knowledge with a passion for helping golfers get the best gear for them, and as such Sam manages a team of writers that look to deliver the most accurate and informative reviews and buying advice. This is so the reader can find exactly what they are looking for.
Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website, whilst he is also responsible for all content related to golf apparel.
He also oversees all Tour player content as well so if you need to know what clubs Tiger or Rory has in play, Sam is the person to ask.
Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five.
Sam's What's In The Bag:
Driver: Titleist TS3 (9 degrees)
Fairway Wood: Callaway Paradym (15 degrees), Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (19 degrees)
Irons (4-PW): Titleist AP2
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 54˚, 58˚
Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5
Ball: Srixon Z-Star Diamond
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