Dromoland, County Clare, Ireland
Not only are there battlements and a castle keep, but Dromoland has a rare claim to fame: it can directly trace its lineage all the way back to the O’Briens, Barons of Inchiquin, royal descendants of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland who ruled from this Viking stronghold in the 11th century. Inside, you’ll find decidedly better-than-Medieval decor: lush window treatments and wall coverings, chintz furniture, luxurious bedding, Waterford chandeliers, and walls adorned with art and an impressive array of stag’s heads. On the estate’s wildlife-filled grounds, guests can sign on for falconry, archery, tennis, trout fishing, horseback riding, and clay-pigeon shooting. There's also an 18-hole golf course. Take in the otherworldly Gaelic landscape with a drive along the rugged coastline to the Cliffs of Moher, Limerick, and The Burren. Dining is equally five star. Choose from the ritzy Earl of Thormond for fine dining or a low-key meal (in front of a roaring fire, natch) in the drawing room or the gallery.