- 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
All of the reviews extolling the excellence of Ashford Castle can be believed. It is hard to put down in writing, how you feel while staying as Ashford Castle. Whilst the Castle itself and its grounds are magnificent, the thing that exceeds this is the staff. They are natural, unpretentious, kind, professional and extremely competent.
Our stay at the Castle is always the highlight of our trip to Ireland and we have stayed at the Castle on several occasions. It was especially "special" this year as we were celebrating our 44th anniversary. The staff ensured that we enjoyed this occasion in a totally unforgettable way. The many well wishes, the "happy anniversary" pillow on our bed and little gifts will live in our memory forever.
What will also live in our memory is the kindness and consideration of the staff. To be greeted by Robert and Martin in the George V ensures a memorable evening. We were looked after on a couple of nights by Andy who went out of his way to make sure we had everything we could ever anticipate. I am sure he was concerned we were not eating enough, but his kindness and unobtrusive professionalism was remarkable.
Our breakfasts were made terrific by Breege and Eleanor who anticipated every need and even remembered our preferences in the following days.
We loved the Falcon walk with Mareen. she was so knowledgeable and interesting.
A special thank you to Emer on reception. All the staff make you feel that their only role is to make us happy and Emer is exceptional in this area. Laura really hit the spot with the hot chocolate with a good slurp of Baileys Irish Cream after the Falcon Walk. Just terrific. Her recommendations for our daily trips were so very helpful and ensured we maximised our days.
The management are to be congratulated in the ethos of their staff. The thing we always notice in our travels is that whilst we go to many fine places, we rarely see the same face year after year, at Ashford we see the same friendly faces and this is testament to management in ensuring their staff are happy. This makes the stay so much more enjoyable with familiar faces, Paddy helping superbly with the luggage, Susan managing the cleaning to a degree you could perform surgery in any room and the food is in a class of its own.
Of course we will be back, this should be on everyone's bucket list.
Absolutely brilliant rooms service and fabulous food second time here 12 years apart same best standard great professional staff nothing too much trouble starting to save again for 12 years time!
Beautiful countryside cong Clifton and connamara
Superb. All in all a wonderful place to stay. What’s not to like. Phenomenal rooms, impeccable service, wonderful ambience, great walks, resident Irish wolf hounds and hawks. Great breakfasts. My only criticism was checkin. It was a muddle and went on interminably.( filled with needless explanations)
And my only other problem was the George 5 restaurant. Food was sadly underwhelming. Crab was tasteless and the venison served with great aplomb, just ok. Wine selection was wonderful and the service excellent( apart from our primary waiter who needed English lessons). But having said all this, my criticisms are minor. It is without doubt a truly wonderful property and we will definitely return.( Will just try the food in the ‘Dungeon’ next time)