- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
Ireland is one of the world’s most magical destinations; it makes for an ideal place to ring in the new year. And Ashford Castle is one of the most magnificent places in the country. Just 45 minutes from Galway Airport, it’s past fields so green that they almost look fake.
The royal treatment begins the minute I get out of my vehicle: my luggage is whisked away and I’m handed an arrival drink — a top-secret recipe called “Arthur’s Bellini”, named after Arthur Guinness, the famed brewmaster and previous owner of the castle. It’s a combination of Guinness and champagne that’s just a touch sweet and remarkably delicious.
The décor inside the Great Hall is period perfect with Waterford chandeliers and gilt mirrors and fireplaces. I flop into a large upholstered chair — to me, Ashford looks handsomely well-worn like a cozy family estate.
Despite the intimate feel Ashford is quite large. With 350 acres of sprawling land and 83 guest rooms, there are plenty of opportunities to get lost (I make a few wrong turns before finding my room.) Each boudoir at Ashford has unique period décor with carefully hidden modern amenities like heated towel racks. Bathrooms are nearly as large as the bedrooms with double basins and a copious amount of marble. I love the old-fashioned claw foot tubs and oversized beds. I feel like a princess. No wonder Grace Kelly was an Ashford regular. I treat myself to afternoon tea. The scones and clotted cream, cucumber sandwiches with butter and pastel-colored cakes are so generous, I’m ready for an afternoon nap.
Over dinner in the Connaught Room, an Irish guest tells the story of the mischievous ghost on the 4th floor. The restaurant prides itself on featuring local Irish produce, tempting me to try the Chef’s degustation menu; however, traditional fish and chips win me over. For dessert, I indulge in an Irish cheese plate. Gaelic cheese is totally underrated. It is absolutely the creamiest, most delicate cheese I’ve ever tasted.
The next morning I wander the lush grounds, where wild woods border manicured gardens, until finally arriving at The School of Falconry. There aren’t many firsts left in travel, but casting my beautiful hawk “Milly” into the trees and seeing her sweep back and land delicately on my gloved forearm is an unfamiliar thrill. After a morning with the hawks and Dingle, the adorable 22-pound owl, I am happy to stay on property and go to the spa. I also debate a Lough Carrib river cruise, but the concierge convinces me to explore nearby towns of Galway, Clifdon and Cong instead.
A delightful drive through the countryside and I begin to understand what “forty shades of green” really means. I pass rolling hills scattered with blonde cows and hear the sounds of locals enjoying a pint (or two). I join them for a drink and satisfy my need for a medieval adventure.
How to Get There
We had an amazing experience recently in Ashford Castle. Everything from the accommodation, location, grounds, food and not to mention the staff. Nothing was too much trouble we felt we were old friends. Can’t wait to make a return trip soon.
We would recommend Archery and a visit to the Falconry. Make sure to walk and explore the beautiful grounds.
Our family of ten just returned from a stay at Ashford Castle. We had 3 rooms which were beautiful. The service and food were amazing. We really enjoyed our falconry experience, horseback riding and golf. The castle is immaculate and being there is like being in a fairytale!
From when you enter the grounds of the castle to being greeted by name when you step foot on the grounds is just the beginning of a great first class experience. The staff could not be more helpful caring and genuine. The wolfhounds walk in the am is well worth waking up for. Make sure you take time to tour the grounds. They are magnificent. The boat tour was ok got to see the castle from the water. Being greeted back by a bagpipe serenade when you return was special. The food was just average. The rooms were amazing. It was great place for families also. So much to do.