Fodor's Expert Review Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle Dr., Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland Fodor's Choice
Flamboyantly turreted, this famed mock-Gothic baronial showpiece, dating from the 13th century, and rebuilt in 1870 for the Guinness family, has been wowing presidents and celebrities 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. 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 with ostentatiously hued soft furnishings. 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 and pier. Sample high Victorian style with afternoon tea in the splendidly ornate Connaught Room or pre-dinner drinks at The Prince of Wales Bar (named for the one who visited in the 1890s.) 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 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.
The Lodge is Ashford Castle's fun and funky sister property on the Estate. Its bold and witty decor freely combines Warhol and hunting prints while some bedrooms are vast, with outdoor terraces on to the lake view, eclectic luxe decor, claw-foot tubs, and oversize furnishings. Wilde's Restaurant is a popular fine dining and special occasion venue, while the Quay Bar and Brasserie is a more informal venue, with a tapas menu.
- epitome of a romantic Irish castle
- excellent facilities and activities
- regal grounds
- 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
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast