County Laois

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About County Laois

Nestled near the centre of Ireland, County Laois brims with mountains, forests, rivers and lakes, as well as sumptuous country estates and ancient castles — ideal for nature lovers and history buffs to explore. Less well-known than some of Ireland’s most popular regions, County Laois offers simple B&Bs and gorgeous Palladian villas-turned-hotels, suited to a broad range of tastes and budgets. Our pick of the best places to stay in County Laois are characterful country houses with fascinating histories and stunning grounds, ensuring that you’re perfectly poised to delve into the area’s many delights.

There are walks and hikes aplenty in the Slieve Bloom Mountains and the Glenbarrow area, as well as superb cycling and riding trails snaking across the county. Bike along the picturesque Barrow Way, or get out on Laois’ lakes and rivers for fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding and laid-back boat tours. Fans of Lutyens will adore the 50-acre Heywood Gardens, whilst golfers can play a round or two at the Mountrath, Portarlington or Abbeyleix Golf Clubs, all of which offer striking rural views.

If it’s historic edifices and ancient ruins that you’re after, look to Emo Court & Parklands — also the site of a beautiful garden — Aghaboe Abbey, the Timahoe Round Tower or the towering Rock of Dunamase, just outside Portalaoise. County Laois’ towns, too, offer attractive eateries, heritage architecture and some great shopping. Pretty Abbeyleix, the county town of Portaloaise and lovely Mountrath, at the foot of the Slieve Mountains, all make for appealing days out. Journey to Mountmellick, founded by Quakers, for its Embroidery Museum, or to Portarlington for a sense of the town’s Huguenot past — still visible though its 17th and 18th-century buildings. Check out the exciting annual programme of events at the Arthouse Library & Gallery in Stradbally, too, to catch talks, creative workshops and exhibitions.

With celebrations of heritage and walking, a lively theatrical programme, vintage car rallies and writing festivals, there’s heaps to see and do in County Laois throughout the year. Come for the lively events and soak up the region’s slower pace of life as you amble along forested trails and paddle across sparkling lakes. Whether you’re into off-road cycling or peering at ancient fortifications, the best places to stay in County Laois promise evenings of crackling log fires and fabulous seasonal fare, excellent for unwinding in absolute bliss.

The Best Places to Stay in County Laois

For laid-back charm

  • Roundwood House is a wonderfully warm, family-friendly Palladian villa with ten charming bedrooms and two self-catering cottages, run by a lovely family. Stroll the extensive grounds, curl up amidst the two thousand volumes in the library, and savour delicious homemade food. Pick this place for the soothing seclusion and the abundance of activities for grown-ups and little ones — from croquet in the garden to hikes in the Slieve Bloom Mountains. One for bookworms & lovers of the great outdoors.

For luxury

  • Ballyfin promises absolute luxury, with 15 opulent suites in a spectacular Regency-era mansion at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Think big four-poster beds, flavoursome farm-to-table fare, fishing on the lake, horse riding across the estate, shooting, archery and indulgent spa treatments. The sophisticated Cellar Bar is a real highlight — don't miss the whiskey tastings! A sumptuous country escape, transporting guests back to the splendour of a bygone era.

For an apartment or holiday cottage

  • If you'd prefer a self-catering option, we suggest that you visit our online partner Booking.com.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

  • There are regular international and domestic flights to Dublin International Airport. Alternatively, take a ferry from Liverpool or Holyhead to Dublin. You can then hop aboard a bus, train or taxi to your destination in County Laois.
  • Many of the region's attractions are most easily reached by road. Contact our online partner Rentalcars if you would like to hire a car.
  • Travel between May and September for warmer weather, averaging at around 17°C. The summer is the most popular time to visit, so book your stay well in advance to avoid missing out!

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Best Hotels in County Laois

  • Roundwood House County Laois 12 rooms from £113

    Hideaway  -  Lovely welcoming country house and hosts, with herb garden, eclectic sitting rooms and cozy bedrooms
    Great walks  -  Mountains themselves are made for walking, with 50 miles of signposted walks
    Sights nearby  -  Birr Castle and its Great Telescope
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays, Fodors

    Lovely country house hotel. Interiors are warm and welcoming with brightly painted walls, oil paintings and four poster beds. Superb dining in the communal dining room, often with the hosts. Herb garden and book-filled sitting room. A treat. See More

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  • Ballyfin Ballyfin, County Laois 15 rooms from £1041

    Country House  -  Considered the most lavish Regency mansion in Ireland
    Outstanding location  -  Set in 610 acres of parkland and manicured grounds
    Artworks  -  Collection of Irish art and china
    Hotel
    Recommended by  -  Kiwi Collection, Relais & Chateaux, CN Traveller

    Immaculately restored, opulently furnished, Regency country mansion situated at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains. Five-star luxury throughout. Sumptuous rooms filled with original Irish art. The price tag is steep but it's an iconic stay. See More

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