County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Visiting this less-explored region is like going back in time. It's a fairy-tale landscape of pristine lakes and maze-like waterways, small farms, fields of bluebells, ancient monasteries, deserted beaches, and forgotten castles, one of which can be yours to play house in.
Inhabited since the 17th century and fronted by a sunken garden, ivy-covered Belle Isle Castle is about a two-hour drive from Belfast. It has an elegant drawing room, a grand hall, and seven bedrooms. You can rent just one, hotel-style, or take over the whole castle. If you go that route, why not spend each night in a different boudoir? The most romantic is the stately Red Bedroom with a four-poster bed. Still can't decide? Ask the butler for his professional opinion (rooms from $116, castle from $572; Jeeves costs extra; belle-isle.com).
What to Eat
Touring nearby gastro-pubs is a must. Get your pints at Blakes of the Hollow, a well-worn Victorian drinking hole in nearby Enniskillen County, and your fare at Cafe Merlot, a bistro that serves savory dishes under a vaulted ceiling. But the tastiest meal you'll have all week may be the one you whip up yourselves at the estate's onsite Cookery School (one-day course from $213).
What Else to Do
Believe it or not, Sligo, a little over an hour's drive away on Donegal Bay, has some serious surf spots. Arrange a lesson with Seventh Wave Surf School, and call on the luck of the Irish to help you stand up (two hours from $49, surfsligo.com). Afterward treat yourselves to a soak in a detoxifying bath filled with locally harvested seaweed at Voya Seaweed Baths (voyaseaweedbaths.com).
When to Go
Summertime -- the weather is divine.
How to Get There
Continental has non-stops from New York City and Boston to Belfast. There, arrange for a rental car and set out on the picturesque drive.