- 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
A visit to Ashford Castle has a grand beginning when you arrive at the manned entry gates to the grounds. You can do a day visit to the grounds for I think about 33 Euro which in itself is a fantastic experience.
We booked about 6 months prior and had Hi Tea in the 800 year old castle with all the trimmings, what a brilliant and utterly luxurious experience. The price for this is by application but worth every cent what ever the cost. As there were 6 of us we were in our own room and felt very special.
George Clooney has stayed there the week before so you can imagine the style and elegance of the place.
We didn’t pay to go round the hotel (which you can do) but just seeing the exterior, grounds (inc. gardens) and lake made this place more than worth a visit. You can also pay to go on a boat trip but this was at set times so we didn’t stay for that. Absolutely stunning castle in Cong.
We stayed here for two nights (not consecutive). The first night we stayed in a lake view corrib room. The room was lovely, but a little bit on the small side. The service in the hotel is absolutely excellent. The staff are friendly and always willing to help. We had the taster menu in George V restaurant, which was excellent. We got engaged in the restaurant and the staff made us feel very special and gave us some complimentary champagne. The Prince of Wales bar / cocktail lounge is also excellent (the wood chipped gin cocktail was amazing). The drinks are reasonably priced given the calibre of the hotel. There is a small cinema that shows two films per day and provides sweets and popcorn (all included in the price of a nights stay). We also had afternoon tea, which is held in a lovely room. We asked for more and sandwiches, which were happily provided. Checkout is at 12noon but the hotel allow you to stay longer if you would like - we booked a treatment at the spa for 12 and then used the swimming pool etc afterwards. The spa is expensive but worth a visit. Breakfast is excellent - 10/10. For our second night we stayed in one of the state rooms, which is undoubtedly the nicest room we have ever stayed in. The only very minor improvement would be tea and coffee facilities in the bedroom. The hotel happily provide tea and coffee upon request, but we would have liked to make our own on occasion in the bedroom. We will definitely be back.
What an experience! Staying at Ashford Castle was the highlight of our 2 week Ireland trip. At first we were going to just stay 1 night, thank goodness my wonderful husband insisted we stay 3 nights even though it’s expensive. So glad we did. It’s worth every penny. 3 nights was a delight and gave us time to enjoy some of the activities (horseback riding, golf, bike rental, walking with the wolf hounds) with our 9 year old and even squeeze in some relaxing spa time. If we had stayed only 1 night, it would have felt so rushed. Definitely do high tea, we all love it. We are a family of avid travelers and I am not one to normally return to same cities or same hotels. I crave different experiences. However, I would return to Ashford Castle again and hope to in the future. What a delight!
We had a lovely stay at the wonderful Ashford Castle, Cong, Ireland. A must do experience with wonderful staff and beautiful rooms. The estate was ours to explore and the castle full of adventures for the eye and taste.