Fodor's Expert Review Ashford Castle

Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland Fodor's Choice

Massive and flamboyantly turreted, this famed mock-Gothic baronial showpiece, dating from the 13th century, and rebuilt in 1870 for the Guinness family, has been wowing visitors like President Reagan, John Travolta, Brad Pitt, and Pierce Brosnan—who got married here, as did Rory McIlroy—ever since. Nearly bigger than the entire neighboring village of Cong, it is strong on luxury and service, yet maintains a relaxed atmosphere in which guests of all ages feel totally at ease. A recent upgrade under new owners has added modern facilities and conveniences and left it more luxurious than ever. Kids immediately associate the castle with Hogwarts; ask about the multigenerational family packages. Deluxe guest rooms have generous sitting areas, heavily carved antique furniture, open fireplaces, and extra-large, opulent bathrooms. Standard bedrooms in the discreetly added wing are smaller, with sumptuous soft furnishings, bespoke beds and carpets, and Victorian-style antiques. The suites in the original castle building are vast, with double-height windows and Georgian antiques, and are blissfully comfortable. For something truly romantic, consider the Hideaway Cottage, a former boathouse on the shore of the lough, with its own gated gardens, pier, and lakeside location. Sample high Victorian style with afternoon tea in the splendidly ornate Connaught Room. The Prince of Wales Bar (named for the one who visited in the 1890s) is the venue for elegant predinner drinks. Choose between the formal George V dining room and the more relaxed atmosphere of Cullen's at the Cottage or The Dungeon. The 32-seat cinema has a family-oriented matinee, and films for grown-ups in the evening. Round off your day with a visit to the rooftop Cigar Terrace, with its unique lake views, accessed through the Billiard Room. Clay-pigeon shooting, horse riding, tree-climbing, ziplining, and the 9-hole golf course are complemented by a sparkling new spa and indoor pool. The hotel makes the most of its superb location at the head of Lough Corrib, and the surrounding formal gardens are possibly the most neatly manicured outdoor space in Ireland. The riverbank has been landscaped to facilitate angling, but don't miss the chance to take a morning walk with a noble Irish wolfhound or with a hawk on your arm at the on-site School of Falconry.

PROS

  • epitome of a romantic Irish castle
  • excellent facilities and activities
  • regal grounds

CONS

  • so luxurious you are cut off from the normal hubbub of Irish life
  • activities and dining options book up quickly at peak times
  • does not come cheap

QUICK FACTS

Hotel
Service, Views, Family
Casual
Countryside
$$$$

HOTEL INFO

Phones: 094-954–6003

HOTEL DETAILS

82 rooms, 1 cottage

What’s Nearby