Grand ! If there was a single word to describe this hotel it would be this ! To be honest, I had my doubts : I knew that it was chosen as the best hotel in the world in 2015 by the famous Virtuoso, but little did I know ! Here I was, on my way to an idyllique hotel experience !
To sleep in a castle has always been one of my dreams and this is perhaps the princess side of me coming out, but this is certainly one if the strangest places I have spent the night ! For my first castle,I must admit that I was not disappointed !
A little history, Ashford Castle was built in 1228 by the Burgo family and it is one of the oldest castles in Ireland. After a long series of purchases and sales, this building was transformed into a 5-star hotel in 1939. The place quickly acquired an international reputation and rich travelers throughout the world have stayed here. It has also received Ireland’s most famous personalities.
Since 2013, it has formed part of the Red Carnation group of hotels whose founder and president, Mrs Beatrice Tollman as well as her daughter Toni Tollman, completely redesigned the place before making huge renovations. It should be noted the clientèle who frequent this type of establishment are very demanding and it needed a bit of an upgrade, especially in terms of the comfort offered by other large luxury hotel chains. The old home has therefore retained its former glory along with the comfort of contemporary features.
This mythical place is perfectly situated : it is only 5 minutes away from the charming village of Cong, 45 minutes from Galway and only 30 minutes from the gates of Connemara (don’t hesitate to read my article with my most beautiful photos of Ireland to see what this country can offer you !). This place to stay is ideal to discover the region, but before doing so, you need to have explored the area which covers no less than 150 hectares alongside Lake Corrib. If you think you will get bored, think again ! My rushed stay here was around 24h : there are so many activities that you would need at least 3 nights to gain the maximum benefit from everything this little gem has to offer. Anyway, I will dedicate an entire different article to the various activities here !
When you at the front door of this place, it is impossible not to feel like a princess (or a prince for the men!!). You slalom over a little path bordered by a lawn that has been trimmed to within an inch of its life (very much like a golf course) and after having left the car, I was welcomed by an ultra-professional and warm member of staff !
I was accompanied into one of the 86 rooms and suites, which for me was a Deluxe Room. Each room was decorated almost uniquely, in different shades but in a common style : an extremely well co-ordinated classical style with antique furniture, carpets and chandeliers. The marble bathroom is also in keeping with the castle.
It’s already 16h : time for afternoon tea which is an anglo-saxon ritual that they have had at Ashford Castle since 1868. They do this in the Connaught Room, a hall decorated in pure rococo style with riot of noble and precious materials : huge paintings, an imposing chimney and floral napkins that match the carpet. Here, you can clearly imagine yourself in an episode of Downton Abbey !
For me it was only a cup of tea and I then moved into the Drawing Room which offered an exceptional view over the flower garden and the lake at the back. This is the perfect place to enjoy a hot drink, a light lunch or an informal dinner.
At 19h, I sat comfortably in a leather chair at the bar to enjoy an appetizer ! The imposing chimney gave the place a warm and very pleasant atmosphere.
To continue the evening, we moved into the renovated Georges V room, which has Waterford crystal chandeliers and whose walls are magnificently decorated in oak paneling. The room has such a lot to reveal and it is in this luxurious atmosphere that I tasted the most refined dishes imaginable that were prepared by chef Stefan Mata. We started off with a procession of dishes which progressively became more creative and tasty as we went along. Dinner was therefore an opportunity for me to try fine Irish cuisine. I must admit that I have a weakness for veal that is extremely well cooked with asparagus in season.
And even more surprises …
After this exceptional dinner, it is time to discover the billiard room ! This room is truly enchanting and here time just seems to be suspended in air ! In the center is a massive immense billard table as well as brown Chesterfield sofas and small tables with old books offering you a relaxing cocoon. There is even a cigar cellar for connaisseurs. I was flabbergasted by this atmosphere and you really could be left feeling that you were in another era !
However, Ashford Castle leaves me with other emotions : this is the case with the movie theater ! Yes, you heard me correctly ! A movie theater in the old style and there is even a popcorn machine ! When I tell you that you need to spend several nights there, I am not lying !! Every evening, another film is showing, but even if you don’t like the look of a certain movie, it doesn’t matter because you will enjoy the place !
After very relaxing night, it’s back to the Georges V to enjoy a lovely breakfast : I was also incredibly surprised by the quality of the dishes while there was also such a massive variety ! Without fault, the service was also immaculate as it was the day before during diner.
To my great regret, it was already time for me to pack my suitcase and head off on the Irish roads again. This stay was exceptional in the pure respect of traditions. I easily understand why this hotel is first in numerous categories ! Its anglo-saxon luxury is extremely well mastered, it is a true institution and it is a destination that I, myself wholeheartedly recommend to all amateurs of prestigious hotels !
Regarding the many activities that this palace offers, don’t miss my future article which will cover this !
• Do not hesitate to consult the various offers and packages on their website
• To visit Ashford Castle : either fly to Dublin (240km on the road) or to Shannon ( 110 km)
• Dinner, Bed and Breakfast package at 595€ per night in a Deluxe room.
How about you? Have you slept in a castle before ? How did you find the experience ? Do not hesitate to let us know on social network or in the comments !