Royal Treatment at the Ashford Castle Ireland
By Angela Fairhurst
In the heart of County Mayo, in the West of Ireland, is the former Guinness Estate, the Ashford Castle. The 350-acre woodland property overlooking the Lough Corrib was originally built in 1228. The castle has undergone many transformations, last meticulously restored and reopened in April of 2015 by the President and Founder of Red Carnation Hotels, Beatrice Tollman with support from her daughter Toni Tollman and French architect Philippe Bonino.
Every part of the hotel’s common areas and 82 guest rooms are pure castle. Sourced antique pieces, original art, artifacts, Waterford crystal, luxurious linens, exquisite fabrics, and marble bathrooms with both heated floors and heated towel racks are all beautifully executed into the style of the original estate.
The technological services seamlessly blend into the esthetic of the historic building. Each room is equipped with USB ports connecting to the flat screen LED smart TVs. There are electronic blinds, mood dim lighting, and electronic maid request service as well as Do Not Disturb. Hanging the key on the fob next to the door engages the lighting and controls when entering the guest room.
Special details make guests feel like royalty.
Each room has a crystal decanter of sherry with Waterford glassware and a tea candle in the bathroom that’s lit at night with the turn down service. Turndown also includes comfy slippers set bedside on soft linens along with chocolates and a newsletter distributed nightly with details on the next days’ activities and suggestions along with the weather.
The estate is known for its sports – golf, tennis, fishing, clay shooting, archery, cycling, horseback riding, kayaking, boating and Ireland’s first School of Falconry. The hotel has a supply of Hunter boots, raincoats and umbrellas available for guests. In winter weather some of the sport options can be limited. But there are enough indoor activities to keep guests busy with the indoor ozone filtered swimming pool, spa, 32-seat cinema, billiards room, and a plethora of restaurants and bars.
Irish cuisine is available at the formal George V, The Dungeon on the lower ground floor; seasonally open Cullen’s at the Cottage and the leisurely Drawing Room. The Prince of Wales Bar has a fine selection of cocktails, liqueurs and brandies, including Irish Whiskies and of course Guinness. The Connaught Room serves traditional afternoon tea daily.
There are two shops on the premises, the Castle Gift Shop and Mrs. Tea’s Boutique and Bakery offering Irish clothing, blankets, souvenirs and food.
County Mayo has sights to see including abbeys and local villages, but guests do not feel like their missing anything if they don’t leave the castle grounds.