Ashord-castle-irish-castle-hotels

Voted one of the best hotels in Ireland and one of the Top 50 resort properties in Europe, Ashford Castle epitomizes the elegance and splendour of a royal experience. The castle walls whisper their tales of battles and bloodshed, royalty and movie stars that stretch back 800 years.

The History of Ashford Castle

The story of Ashford Castle begins in 1228 when the first stones were laid by Richard Mor de Burgh, 1st Lord of Connaught. Richard was the son of a Norman adventurer and an Irish princess and the province of Connaught had been granted to his father. However the native O’Connor clan had not been conquered and it wasn’t until 1235 that the Gaelic King of Connaught was finally defeated by Richard and expelled. This began a new Irish-Norman dynasty and the House of de Burgh became one of the most influential houses in Ireland during the 13th and 14th centuries. The de Burgh family was to own Ashford Castle for nearly four centuries.

The Tudor Era

Sir Richard Bingham was a soldier and naval commander who served under Queen Elizabeth I during the Tudor conquest of Ireland. He was appointed Governor of Connaught in order to suppress the local rebellions that resulted from Tudor attempts to bring Ireland under centralized British rule. Fierce battles with the de Burghs ensued with Bingham ultimately crushing their rebellion and taking possession of the castle which he further fortified.

Further Expansion

It wasn’t until 1715 that the castle once again returned to Irish hands when it was acquired by Baron Oranmore Browne. A descendant of the ancient tribes of Galway, Browne was an MP and Irish merchant. He undertook significant expansion and architectural changes including construction of the distinctive French chateau style central facade. Today, the double-headed eagles representing the Browne coat of arms are still visible on the roof of the building.

The Guinness Family

Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness,  purchased the estate in 1852. After the death of his father in 1855 Benjamin became the richest man in Ireland with a huge export trade and the continual expansion of his brewery. This enabled him to expand the Ashford estate with the addition of two large building extensions and new parklands that grew the estate to 26,000 acres (110 square km).

Upon his death in 1868, the Ashford estate passed to his son Arthur, Lord Ardilaun, a businessman, politician and philanthropist. He is probably best known for giving St Stephen’s Green to the people of Dublin. Under Arthur’s care the evolution of Ashford continued with the rebuilding of the entire west wing of the Castle in the neo-Gothic style and further investment in the land.

In the late 1800’s, the Irish Land Wars saw tenant farmers rebel against their absentee landlords. Although Arthur spent much of his time at Ashford and was a generous landlord who was well-liked by his tenants, he was eventually forced to break up the estate.

Hollywood and the Castle

The estate remained in the Guinness family until 1939 when it was purchased by Noel Huggard. He established the estate as a hotel that became known for country pursuits such as fishing and hunting.

In 1951, Hollywood came to Ashford Castle when it served as the backdrop for director John Ford’s film “The Quiet Man”. The movie, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara , was filmed on the Castle grounds and nearby Cong.  More recently the Castle was used as a set in the medieval drama “Reign”.

Modern Times

John Mulcahy purchased the estate in 1970 and began a complete restoration. He doubled the size of the castle with the addition of a new wing, added a golf course and developed the grounds and gardens.

A group of Irish American investors became the new owners in 1985 and the estate was then sold again in 2007 to Galway-based property investor Gerry Barrett and his family. The property was placed into receivership in late 2011 although the hotel continued to operate, receiving several significant awards.

The estate went up for sale again in late 2012 and in May 2013 was purchased by Red Carnation Hotels who began a major refurbishment, restoring the Castle and grounds to their former glory. Neighbouring Lisloughrey Lodge was purchased in 2014 and added to the resort.

Curious Fact

Ashford Castle once had Oscar Wilde as a neighbour. Wilde’s father owned the estate next door and Oscar spent some of his childhood there.

What’s it Rated?

5 Luxurious Stars

Voted # 9 in the Top 30 Resorts in Europe 2017 in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards

Get Me There Now!

Cong
County Mayo

2 hours 50 minutes from Dublin Airport

1 hour 30 minutes from Shannon Airport

1 hour from Knock Airport

Famous Guests Before Me

You know you’re in good company when previous guests have included kings and presidents….

King George V and Queen Mary
Prince Rainier and Princess Grace
President Ronald Reagan
John Lennon
George Harrison
Oscar Wilde
Prince Edward
Senator Ted Kennedy
John Wayne
Maureen O’Hara
Robin Williams
Brad Pitt
Pierce Brosnan

Ashford-Castle-irish-castle-hotels
800 Years of History at Ashford Castle (image: Wikimedia Commons)

Rooms at Ashford Castle

Each of the 83 rooms and suites here are fit for a princess (or a prince). Many have been individually designed and are in keeping with the castle’s architectural heritage. Alongside modern luxuries, you’ll find unique works of art, antique furniture, custom designed carpets, feature lighting, specially built beds, custom designed carpets and luxurious fabrics. At night you’ll snuggle down into monogrammed Egyptian Cotton 400 thread count bed linens.

All rooms and suites offer the following:

  • Fully interactive plasma screen TVs with movies and music on demand
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Deluxe Voya toiletries
  • Bottled mineral water
  • Bathrobes and slippers
  • Evening turn down service
  • 24 hour in-room dining
  • Complimentary copy of “The Quiet Man” movie
  • Hair dryer
  • I-luv bluetooth speaker
  • USB charger
  • 110 volt sockets
  • Individually controlled air-conditioning
  • International direct dial telephones
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Electronic safe
  • Electronic blinds

Corrib Rooms

Elegant rooms that have recently been refurbished, offering comfort and luxury with king-size beds.

Corrib Lake View Rooms

Enjoy the elegant sanctuary offered by these individually designed rooms. Some even feature gilt and cream painted tester beds. Special features of these rooms include feature beds, chandeliers and fresh flowers.

Deluxe Rooms

These newly designed rooms offer a spacious relaxation area, beautiful furnishings and gorgeous views over the Ashford Estate.

  • Feature beds and chandeliers
  • Separate seating area
  • Writing desk
  • Fresh flowers
  • Interconnecting rooms are available

Lake View Deluxe Rooms

Relax in your private sitting area as you savour the views over magnificent Lough Corrib. These rooms feature antiques such as a German Baroque stumpwork silk decorated tester bed made for Friedrich Christian Freiherr von Spee in the late 17th Century; a Louis XV painted and parcel gilt trumeau mirror circa 1750; and satinwood and rosewood cross banded writing tables from around 1900 that are used as bedside tables.

  • Feature beds and chandeliers
  • Separate seating area
  • Writing desk
  • Fresh flowers

Deluxe Queen Family Rooms

Designed with families in mind, these rooms feature two Queen size beds with a relaxation area. Suitable for two adults and two children under 12, they overlook the beautiful Lough Corrib and Parterre Gardens. The bathrooms have a separate shower and marble sinks. The children will be looked after with robes and slippers as well as juice and cookies on arrival. In addition to standard the features, these rooms also offer sitting areas with armchairs. Interconnecting rooms are available.

Junior Staterooms

Image courtesy Red Carnation Hotels

Traditional style meets modern convenience in these gorgeous rooms with their sumptuous four-poster beds, views over the estate and colour schemes that range from rich, regal reds to soft neutral shades. Some rooms have split level sitting areas.

  • Feature beds and chandeliers
  • Interconnecting rooms available
  • Separate seating area
  • Writing desk
  • Fresh flowers
Image courtesy Red Carnation Hotels

Staterooms

Image courtesy Red Carnation Hotels

These grand rooms are located in the oldest part of the castle that dates back to the 13th and 17th centuries. They feature high ceilings with gorgeous views of Lough Corrib. Most of the rooms have four-poster beds and original fireplaces. Antique furniture and large bathrooms, some of which feature pedestal claw-foot tubs, finish off the regal ambience.

  • Feature beds and chandeliers
  • Separate seating area
  • Writing desk
  • Fresh flowers
Image courtesy Red Carnation Hotels

Suites

Did someone say ‘opulence’? That’s what you’ll get in one of these suites, some of which have been recently refurbished and all of which
surround you in gracious style. Feast your eyes on the views of the River Cong or Lough Corrib as you dine in your large private dining
area.

  • Feature beds and chandeliers
  • Separate seating area
  • Writing desk
  • Fresh flowers
  • Soaps from world famous perfumeries

Kennedy Suite

Image courtesy Red Carnation Hotels

If you’re seeking true luxury, with loads of history, then look no further. This suite was named after US Senator Ted Kennedy who stayed here in the early ’80’s. The suite is situated in the oldest wing of the castle, overlooking Lough Corrib. In keeping with its historic setting, the suite is filled with antique furniture that includes a 19th Century walnut bed, an early Victorian Rosewood centre table and an early 18th century Spanish armoire. The suite can be combined with the Reagan Presidential Suite to create a private three bedroom wing of the castle. You’ll just love all the special touches of this suite.

  • Feature beds and chandeliers
  • Separate seating area
  • Writing desk
  • Fresh flowers
  • Soaps from world famous perfumeries
  • Self controlled fireplace
  • 24 hour housekeeping
  • Champagne & chocolate arrival
  • In-room Sherry night cap

Reagan Presidential Suite

In 1984, Ashford’s owner John A. Mulcahy invited his friend President Reagan for a visit and his elegant suite in the oldest wing of the castle now bears his name. With its original fireplace and impressive George lll style four-poster bed this is the last word in castle luxury. Fittingly, the room is decorated with antiques and original portrait art, all of which is enhanced by the spectacular views of Lough Corrib from floor to ceiling windows. The split level suite has two bathrooms and can be combined with two adjacent rooms to create a private three bedroom wing of the castle. Guests of the suite are also given the presidential treatment with plenty of thoughtful touches.

  • Feature beds and chandeliers
  • Separate seating area
  • Writing desk
  • Fresh flowers
  • Soaps from world famous perfumeries
  • 24 hour housekeeping
  • Champagne & chocolate arrival
  • Complimentary canapés delivered each evening
  • Complimentary bar during stay
  • A daily gift will also be delivered to your room!

Hideaway Cottage

Nestled on the shores of Lough Corrib, the Hideaway Cottage is a former boathouse that dates back to the Castle’s Guinness era. Reclaimed materials such as stone and old fireplace lintels from the Castle were used in its restoration. The parquet floors are hand-crafted and the decor features original art including some by Louis Icart, sumptuous fabrics and a stunning blue Murano glass chandelier. Custom antiques include a French Empire marquetry chest of drawers; a 20th century, four-fold European canvas screen and a late 19th century pair of walnut armchairs covered in tapestry by Brunschwig & Fils.

The surrounding gardens and secure gate access ensure your total privacy so you can relax in comfort while enjoying the lake front views. When you arrive at the Castle you’ll be escorted to the cottage where a welcome basket and fully stocked bar await. As do Jack Murphy Jackets and Wellingtons that are yours to take home. Bicycles are also provided for your use and you can enjoy all of the 350-acre estate’s amenities. A 24 hour concierge service ensures you’re always taken care of.

Dine privately or at one of the Estate’s restaurants. Perhaps an alfresco dinner on the pier? This is a unique luxury Irish experience.

Dining at Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle offers a range of dining options all of which feature seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Creative Irish cuisine combined with an extensive wine cellar make Ashford Castle a gourmet’s paradise.

George V Dining Room

George V Dining Room (image: Red Carnation Hotels)

The Prince of Wales, who went on to become King George V of England, visited Ashford Castle in 1905. In honour of that visit, the Guinness family built this special dining room that still bears his name. As a resident pianist plays softly, and the light sparkles on the Waterford Crystal chandeliers, you’ll dine on exceptional dishes designed by Chef Philippe Farineau (awarded two rosettes by the AA Hospitality Awards), while sipping a fine selection of wines from Chief Sommelier Robert Bowe.

Cullen’s at the Cottage

Cullen’s at the Cottage (image: Red Carnation Hotels)

Formerly the Cong Cinema, this traditional thatched cottage offers a casual dining experience featuring international and local dishes inspired by the Estate’s owner Beatrice Tollman. A short stroll from the Castle and with a lovely garden and patio area, this is the perfect spot to enjoy lunch and cocktails with a magnificent view of the Castle.

The Dungeon

The Dungeon (image: Red Carnation Hotels)

With its historic curved stone ceiling and medieval decor, the Dungeon is a unique setting to enjoy bistro-style traditional Irish cuisine.

Afternoon Tea (The Connaught Room)

Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle is a must. In a tradition dating back to 1868, tea is served in The Connaught Room with views across the gardens and Lough Corrib. Tempting treats created by Head Pastry Chef, Paula Stakelum, Winner of the Valrhona Pâtisserie Championship 2017, are served on beautiful, ornate silver stands. Heavenly!

Wilde’s at the Lodge

Located within the Estate at the Castle’s sister property The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Wilde’s Restaurant serves contemporary Irish cuisine created by chef Jonathan Keane who was recently described as “one of the country’s most inspiring chefs”.

The Castle Wine Cellars

For a truly unique experience, try a private wine tasting or wine dinner in the secret passageways of the castle. This remarkable setting with its soft lighting and cozy ambience may just be the perfect place to savour the Castle’s fine selection of vintages.

The Billiards Room

Serving Cuban and Irish tapas each evening in a setting of traditional elegance. A selection of Mr Tollman’s limited edition cigars are also available.

The Cigar Terrace

Located off the Billiards Room and overlooking the River Cong, the Cigar Terrace is the perfect spot to relax with a whiskey or cognac and a cigar.

The Prince of Wales Bar

Retaining its original 1800’s style, this bar offers an elegant setting in which to relax and enjoy a cocktail, liqueur or brandy.

The Drawing Room

For a morning coffee or light lunch from the bar menu, the light-filled Drawing Room offers a relaxed ambience where floor to ceiling windows frame beautiful view across the gardens and Lough Corrib.

What else can I do here?

With a long history as one of the finest sporting estates in Ireland and 350 acres of land, you’ll never be short of things to do. And if you need advice, there’s a dedicated Activities Coordinator to assist!

Golf

In addition to Ashford Castle’s own 9 hole, 2996 yards par 35 parkland course, the estate is surrounded by some of the finest Links Golf courses in the world.

Fishing

Lough Corrib and the River Cong make up one of the most famous fisheries in Ireland. The area is well-known for salmon, brown trout and pike fishing.

The Cinema

Ashford Castle even has its own cinema, with seating for 32 in sumptuous red velvet chairs. Each day features a new movie, with something for everyone.

The Spa at Ashford Castle

Voted Ireland’s Best Hotel Spa at the World Spa Awards 2017.

The Spa at Ashford Castle (image: Red Carnation Hotels)

Step into a gorgeous world of relaxation and nurturing. This state of the art facility includes a relaxation pool, five treatment rooms, relaxing steam room and an invigorating Hammam. The Fitness Studio houses the latest Life Fitness equipment and also offers PureFlow™ Fitness sessions.

Other Activities at Ashford Castle

Falconry

Clay Shooting and Archery

Zip-lining and Tree Climbing

Cycling

Kayaking

Horse Riding

Lake Cruising

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Tennis

Traditional Boat Trips

Falconry at Ashford Castle (image: Red Carnation Hotels)

What about the kids?

Ashford Castle is extremely family friendly and a great place for a family vacation. Small guests receive a welcome gift, personalised cookies and home-made apple juice. Kids will be kept amused with board and card games as well as specially selected DVD’s. They’ll be provided with a personalized guests’ book as part of the evening turndown service. The even have a LEGO Butler (now what kid would not love that?)!

There are menus for young guests, a children’s afternoon tea, treasure hunt and movie matinees with popcorn. Outdoor activities are also focused on youngsters with junior golf lessons, falconry, cycling, horse riding, tennis and more.

And when mum and dad want some time out, experienced and trained babysitters can be arranged.

(Note: there is an additional cost for some activities)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  • Hello dear Margaret!

    I really enjoy reading your posts and scroll down the pictures! The Ashford Castle is gorgeous! The rooms are so luxurious and comfy, but are decorated to match the overall style of the castle! I’d love to visit someday when I will be able to afford it! How many days would you suggest someone to stay in this castle?

    • Hi Kate,

      Thank you for your visit and comment. Yes, Ashford Castle is incredibly luxurious and I agree that they’ve decorated it in a style that suits the architecture. There’s such a lot to do here that I would suggest at least a couple of nights, if not longer. Not only does the resort offer a very wide range of activities, there is much to explore in the surrounding area. I hope one day you do get to visit this magnificent castle!

      Thanks

      Margaret

  • I have always wanted to vacation in the UK and stay in some magnificent and magical castle. I’m so glad I found your site!

    The Ashford Castle Hotel looks absolutely divine. I always think of castles as being sort of drafty, with an old feeling, but this looks so warm and cozy. I love all the antique features, too. You’ve featured some of the best photos here. This is definitely going on my list of vacation spots.

    • Hi Sunny,

      Thanks for stopping by! Yes, they have really made Ashford Castle into a gorgeous place. Very cozy indeed. I think its one of the best castles to really get a feeling of being in a grand castle. I hope you get a chance to visit one day.

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