Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

‘s fraught but vibrant history, for hundreds of years
Ashford Castle has been one of the Emerald
‘s crown jewels. Built as a house in the 13th century then
bought by the Guinness family and renovated as a castle, the
building was a testament to Ireland’s landowner class and the Great
Irish Famine – before it was saved from ruin and converted into a
hotel in 1939. But just as Ireland and its people tell a richer
story than the country’s chequered past, the hotel shows little
sign of former woe.

Palatial features evoke a bygone era, as guests are greeted by a
mammoth 16th-century suit of armour in the grandiose entrance. Such
antiquated extravagance has attracted an extensive list of
celebrity clientele including King George V, Ronald Reagan, Mia
Farrow and Jack Nicholson, to name a few.


A night in one of the 82 lavish bedrooms does not come cheap
(prices start at €595) – and it’s not hard to see why. A standard
room offers 400-thread-count monogrammed bed linen, fresh flowers,
complimentary Voya products and stunning views of Lough Corrib. The
staterooms are also a sight to behold, dating back to the 13th and
17th centuries with fireplaces and pedestal claw bathtubs.

What’s for breakfast?

A sumptuous spread in the George V dining room has something to
satisfy every guest. Go all in with an Irish fry and some soda
bread to alleviate any lingering symptoms of last night’s

How about lunch and dinner?

Afternoon tea is served in the Connaught room where you can sip
champagne and indulge in hand-crafted petit fours under the Donegal
crystal chandelier – bring a camera. For dinner, opt for opulence
in the George V dining room, where an eight-course tasting menu is
full of temptations such as John Dory with Italian truffle on
seaweed pasta and leek fondue. Cullen’s at the Cottage is a more
casual affair on the estate, offering hearty food, a fantastic wine
list and a lively buzz.

Is there a bar?

Yes, several. The Prince of Wales bar serves traditional
cocktails and rare Irish whiskeys but the best craic is in the
cigar room, where you can throw a blanket around you and chat to
other guests over a glass of champagne.


The spa is heavenly, offering a broad range of treatments from
Elemis and Voya (an Irish seaweed-based organic brand) to leave you
bright-eyed and fresh. Make sure you try PureFlow, a machine which
pulsates around your legs to increase oxygenation and promote
detoxification – which is said to increase the effectiveness of
exercise threefold! The Castle also offers an impressive array of
activities. Our favourite was the school of falconry with Harris
Hawks. If horses are your thing you’ll find Connemara ponies, Irish
draughts and Irish cobs at the equestrian centre (run by Olympian
David O’Loughlin). There’s also a nine-hole golf course, shooting,
archery, fishing and kayaking. Pets are treated like royalty at
Ashford Castle. They have a choice of different sized pet beds,
cushions, duvets and floor mats, dog sitting and walking services,
toys and a turndown treat.

Things to know

There is a four-star hotel on the estate for people who find the
room rates of Ashford Castle a little too eye-watering. All the
amenities of the estate are available to use but there is an
embargo on walking around the grounds until after 4PM.

Within a short walk I can find…

The castle is situated in Cong, the town where The Quiet Man was
filmed. With just a few minutes’ walk you can channel your inner
Maureen O’Hara (or John Wayne) for the perfect Instagram shots at
Pat Cohan’s bar.

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