Over the years, County Kildare has grown into a home base for thousands of Dublin commuters. It's strung with quiet, comfortable communities served by excellent motorways. For visitors keen on experiencing Dublin without embracing its sometimes frenetic atmosphere, Kildare doubles as a reasonable hotels base.
And it's not all suburbs and bedroom communities here. County Kildare boasts acres of farmland and one of the world's most acclaimed thoroughbred traditions. Breeders base themselves here because Kildare doesn't levy a stud fee tax, and that's a strong draw considering the high-value bloodlines coming out of the county.
If you'd like to be based near a stud farm or in a community where everyday Irish live, then car hire in County Kildare is essential. Most people who live here drive into Dublin, and public transport involves too many stops to be efficient. The best hotels are adjacent to the three-sided plaza at the centre of town.
Maynooth is a more modern alternative with a university-fuelled night scene and leafy main avenue strung with shops, pubs and inns. But the most attractive town in the county is Athy, which lies at the intersection of the Grand Canal and the River Barrow. Walking tours reveal White's Castle (more of a tower) and other historic sites.
The Westgrove Hotel is one of the sleekest in Kildare, and it's located a few kilometres outside of Maynooth. Clanard Court Hotel is another four-star option, but it's closer to Athy than Maynooth. Meanwhile, K Club Golf and Spa Resort is one of the finest luxury hotels in Ireland, and you'll have a hard time finding a more comfortable and secluded base from which to explore Dublin and environs. Any of these hotels are less than an hour's drive from Dublin.
Further information on Kildare including tourist and heritage information can be found by visiting kildare.ie.