Decorated head to toe with beautiful architecture, a remarkable restaurant scene, and some of Ireland’s most fun and lively pubs, Cork is a majestic riverside city which is graced by a friendly sense of humour and a laidback way of life. Famed as a liberal, cosmopolitan metropolis with picturesque stretches of waterfront and an artisan coffee shop on every corner, as well as a great place to enjoy a good Craic, the city is now home to an ever-growing hip and creative scene.
Cork is dotted by grand Georgian avenues and 17th – century alleys, and is full to the brim with excellent food. Within its eclectic cityscape is also a comprehensive array of stunning hotels, which range from old-world boutiques to trendy modern high-rise masterpieces. Here are the best cool and unusual hotels in Cork, Ireland (in no particular order)…
1. The Dean Cork – a cool and fun boutique hotel which makes a hip and funky base for partying Millenials and Gen Zs
The Dean Cork is a brand-new hospitality concept in the heart of one of Europe’s most exciting cities, and offers a slice of boutique bliss through bespoke gadget-filled rooms and a top-floor restaurant with panoramic view.
The hotel also offers a professional co-working environment, catering to business travellers. For lunch and dinner, there are two great spots to choose from.
You can either unwind at the ground floor Dean Bar, or the rooftop restaurant Sophie’s, which boasts two terraces overlooking the sprawling cityscape.
The design-focused guestrooms are filled with perks and treats to make you smile, and feature cool Irish art, Marshall amps to connect your gadgets to, and a Samsung Smart TV with Netflix.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Dean Cork
2. The Montenotte Hotel – a beautiful, trendy and Instagrammable independent boutique hotel that offers panoramic city views
Boasting majestic views over Cork harbour, The Montenotte is an eclectic hotel which offers a touch of fun to your city break.
Perched on one of the city’s northside hills, the hotel offers a landscaped tiered garden where you can seek a peaceful refuge from the buzz of the metropolis.
The gardens feature changing colour lampshades and flowerpots on one level, and a Victorian fire-bowl on another. While the hotel’s original structure dates from 1766, an eccentric collection of eye-catching pieces gives The Montenotte a contemporary vibe.
The 107 rooms and 19 apartments are decorated with frames of Cork landmarks, and offer coffee and tea-making facilities alongside many other high-end amenities.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Montenotte Hotel
3. The River Lee Hotel – a member of The Doyle Collection – a contemporary multi-award-winning hotel that offers a distinctive and unforgettable experience
The design-led River Lee Hotel provides an oasis of tranquillity within a short stroll from the historic St Finbarr’s Cathedral, the serene Mardyle river walk, and the city’s eclectic restaurants and pubs.
Furnished throughout in neutral tones with bright accents, the décor complements a modern outlook lent by glass walls on every level. The lobby is graced by a small library with cosy upholstered seating, but the real comfort comes in the guestrooms, where you can soothe the soul amid crisp white linens and take in panoramic views of the surrounding Victorian terraces.
The River Lee also offers leisure facilities including a 20-metre pool, a well-equipped gym, and extensive spa offerings.
- To book, check prices or availability for The River Lee Hotel a member of The Doyle Collection
4. Castlemartyr Resort Hotel – an upscale country resort alongside the ruins of a 13th-century castle
Set amid the stunning landscapes of east County Cork, Castlemartyr is a sprawling estate inviting you to relish good food, relaxation, and fresh air.
The resort is inspired by the original manor house which forms the heart of the property, with a wide entrance hall adorned by grandfather clocks, cream upholstered sofas, and rich wood furnishings. Set adjacent to ruins of an 800-year-old castle, the hotel offers the perfect country escape, and the entire property is beautifully decorated with a spread of original artwork.
Cool ivories and warm golds give a radiant glow to the rooms, which offer bespoke comforts in the form of modern technology and plush linens.
- To book, check prices or availability for Castlemartyr Resort Hotel
5. Hotel Isaacs Cork City – a chic boutique hotel located in a historic 19th-century building in the heart of Cork City
Beginning as an Edwardian tobacco warehouse, Isaacs has evolved into a charming boutique hotel in the heart of Cork’s theatre district.
Period accents like thick beams, metal pillars, and eccentric windows add a historic touch to the property’s modern comforts. The guestrooms are furnished in a contemporary style, with photographs of Cork landscapes spanning the entire wall. If you stay on the ground floor, the secluded courtyard will be easily accessed from your room.
The public areas feature portraits of famous Irish writers and quotes, evoke a soothing ambiance to guide travellers to relaxation. The on-site restaurant Greene’s is one of Ireland’s finest, and offers charming indoor and al fresco seating.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Isaacs Cork City
6. Fota Island Hotel and Spa – a high-end golf resort that boasts beautifully designed interior
Set amongst 500 acres of landscaped grounds, the sophisticated Fota Island Resort offers a tranquil escape just 15 minutes from the centre of Cork.
A hunting lodge feel is exuded through dark beams, earth-tone seating areas, and stone walls in the lounge area, while iron chandeliers and large floor-standing candles bring light and cosiness. The curved design follows Fota Island’s shoreline to offer breath-taking views from every corner of the hotel, and nowhere is this best exposed than through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls of the restaurant and bar.
The 40 guestrooms are clad in purple and lavender, and boast private balconies offering the ultimate relaxation spot.
- To book, check prices or availability for Fota Island Hotel and Spa
7. Barnabrow Country House – a romantic country house that is the perfect setting for unique romantic breaks
Nestled in the rolling hills of East Cork with captivating glimpses of Ballycotton Bay, Barnabrow Country House is a discreet paradise which feels more like a secret garden.
The meandering passages through the hotel’s grounds are dotted with various decks, inviting you to relish the old-world charm of a glamorous Country House.
Here, you can enjoy an afternoon tea in a Georgian Manor House and soak up the elegance of a bygone era, and dine at a wonderful restaurant where warm hues decorate the walls of a medieval-style banqueting hall. Each bedroom is unique, whether you choose to stay in one of the five grand rooms, or in the nooks of the old workers’ cottages.
- To book, check prices or availability for Barnabrow Country House
8. Gabriel House Guesthouse – an elegant hidden gem B&B where pets are welcome
Overlooking Cork’s effervescent skyline, Gabriel House provides an elegant, old-world luxury accommodation, using period décor to embrace the historic feel.
The guesthouse’s rural garden reflects the heritage of the property, and makes for an idyllic space to unwind and listen to stories of other travellers. Each of the opulent en-suite rooms were designed with comfort in mind, and come with panoramic city views.
With a keen eye on sustainability, this luxury accommodation is powered using solar energy, and electric vehicle chargers are widely available. A freshly cooked breakfast sourced from local producers and the property’s very own sustainable garden is served each morning.
- To book, check prices or availability for Gabriel House Guesthouse
9. Hayfield Manor – a stylish accommodation housed in a converted manor house with gardens
Hayfield Manor invites you to a serene and pampered ambiance in a sanctuary that exudes period-style elegance. Here, an estate house atmosphere is oozed through Georgian-style windows and antiques, while a luxurious tone is set through rich gold and beige furnishings and thick carpets.
This stylish blend of mid-century heritage and modern opulence is enhanced with a dash of natural flair, through a pretty, walled garden which is perfectly manicured. Hayfield Manor offers two restaurants.
You can embrace a casual atmosphere in a bright conservatory at Perrotts, or relish garden views as you tuck into a modern Irish menu at Orchids.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hayfield Manor
10. Imperial Hotel Cork City – a timeless landmark close to major shops and restaurants
A haven of old-world elegance and traditional charm, Imperial Hotel offers a vibrant working atmosphere by day, but winds down at night into a tranquil hub full of character.
Crystal chandeliers and dark woods set in a high-ceilinged entrance radiate a historic charm, while a pleasant touch is added through leafy palms, orchids, and comfortable upholstered furniture. Guests can benefit from a residents-only gym, and the spectacular Aveda Escape spa which offers an extensive range of blissful treatments.
Imperial Hotel is situated on one of the city’s oldest and most architecturally scenic streets, and stands as a much-admired local landmark.
- To book, check prices or availability for Imperial Hotel Cork City
11. Belvedere Lodge – a cozy and charming guesthouse that is the perfect home away from home
Here we have the ideal base for exploring all that Cork City has to offer. This luxurious guesthouse is set on its own lush, manicured gardens with cascades, ponds, and a gazebo setting the tone for a weekend of serenity.
This traditional, historic hotel has earned recognition for its warm, welcoming atmosphere, evoked in the commodious guestrooms which either overlook or open directly onto the garden. In-room amenities include complimentary DVDs, tea and coffee-making facilities, and a large bathroom.
Belvedere Lodge offers a superb Irish breakfast each morning, supplemented by home-baked breads, home-made jams, and smoked Irish salmon.
- To book, check prices or availability for Belvedere Lodge
12. Rochestown Park Hotel – a classic, romantic and elegant boutique hotel in Cork
Nestled in a quiet neighbourhood about 5 km from Cork City Centre, Rochestown Park Hotel brings a fresh modern look to the city, and is dressed in luxurious materials that express a sophisticated tone.
The 149 commodious guestrooms offer intimacy and elegance through soft natural hues and a vibrant lighting system, while the reception area is rooted in polished woodwork and provides comfy seating spots.
The hotel’s restaurant Suttons Bar & Bistro caters to everyone’s taste buds, with appetising brunches, gourmet lunches & dinners, and afternoon teas on offer. Here, the philosophy is rooted in classic and imaginative cooking techniques, using local and seasonal ingredients from land and sea.
- To book, check prices or availability for Rochestown Park Hotel
13. The Address Cork (formerly Ambassador Hotel & Health Club) – a quirky-chic hotel housed in a grand Victorian redbrick building
Presiding with an air of splendour from the historic area of St. Luke’s, the elegant and newly refurbished Address Cork is set at the top of Military Hill and offers high levels of comfort and a truly bespoke service.
The grand façade of this gorgeous red brick Victorian building immediately embodies the rich history of 1870s Irish architecture, and invites you into a world of refined opulence.
A standout feature of the hotel is the sustainable and independently branded McGettigans Cookhouse, which provides an eclectic dining environment complemented by an extensive cocktail list and specially selected wines.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Address Cork (formerly Ambassador Hotel & Health Club)
14. Oriel House Hotel – a gorgeous, romantic and opulent upscale hotel to stay in Cork
Oriel House offers a contemporary twist on a typical 19th -century building. Set in the vibrant suburb of Ballincollig, the original building stands as the hotel’s core, while contemporary extensions form a horseshoe shape around it.
Gold mosaic patterned chairs provide a relaxing touch to the reception area, which is sprinkled with modern eclecticism through splashes of colour and dazzling art. A boutique feel is present in the suites, which are individually decked out with materials of various colours, and promote a blissful night’s sleep amid plush linens.
An expansive breakfast buffet is available each morning, while the on-site bistro serves lunch and dinner in a charming atmosphere.
- To book, check prices or availability for Oriel House Hotel
15. The Kingsley Hotel – a modern and stylish hotel that offers an organic spa and modern amenities
Capitalizing on a scenic location along the old Lee Baths site, The Kingsley offers stunning views of both the river and the period buildings that suffuse Cork with a historic charm.
A traditional atmosphere of crystal chandeliers and dark wood walls beautifully contrasts the floor-to-ceiling glass walls and contemporary seating areas. Asian-influenced artworks, intricate large vases, and majestic sculptures are sprinkled around the halls and other public areas to truly give The Kingsley its wow factor.
A modern vibe permeates the 131 spacious guestrooms, which are bedecked with all the trappings of a big-name hotel chain. There are many options for dining on-site, whether you’d prefer the K Lounge with its spectacular views, the immense buffet at Fairbanks, the Springboard with its bistro-style flair, or the snug feel at Fishers Bar.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Kingsley Hotel
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Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland, UK and the US but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and great football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @scottbalaam