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An elegant 18th-century house in an extraordinary setting, Gregans is not in fact even remotely castle-like, but don’t let that bother you. This unique property is one of the most peaceful hotels in Ireland. Manager Simon Haden is the second generation of hoteliers in his family to run the place, although it’s been a hotel for much longer—famous guests of the 20th century included J.R.R. Tolkien, who was apparently so inspired by the otherworldly views of the surrounding Burren that he drew on them to describe Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. Guest rooms are design-magazine chic, with modern furnishings and bay windows. Televisions are banned in the hotel, to enable guests to get maximum benefit from the tranquil surroundings. Even if you can’t stretch to the cost of a night here, consider booking a table in the superb restaurant, Gregans Castle ★★★.  Chef Robbie McCauley's modern Irish cooking is utterly superlative—though if you don’t want to splurge, the excellent bar menu is much cheaper. Check the website for some attractive dinner-bed-and-breakfast packages, and midweek deals.