When Arthur Guinness of stout-brewing fame inherited Ashford Castle in 1868, he and his wife Olivia set out to turn the medieval stronghold into a home—and they ended up transforming it into the festive heart of the community. They refurbished the oldest part of the castle, planted inviting gardens, and meticulously maintained the surrounding woodlands. Now, after more than a decade of neglect, a top-to-bottom restoration has brought the castle vibrantly back to its 19th-century heyday. Guests sleep like royalty in rooms adorned with silks and antiques, and wake for a morning walk with Garvan and Cronan, the resident Irish wolfhounds. Whether you’re taking afternoon tea or sampling wines with the sommelier in a secret passageway, the staff and the ambience are warm and welcoming. Ashford Castle is, once again, a joyous fairytale castle—and a majestic gateway to the delights of the Ireland’s fabled west.
What does it take to resuscitate an 800-year-old castle? All the available scaffolding in Ireland, apparently, and a bit more from Scotland. Ashford Castle was a leaky, drafty, crumbling shadow of its former self when it was purchased by the Tollman family in 2013. They committed to using local resources to restore its glory, and so a crew from a small area construction company spent two years on that scaffolding, placing double-glazed windows and repointing centuries-old stones under the gaze of a conservation architect who kept the original features intact. They discovered hidden details behind old walls, added artwork and antiques, and appointed every inch of the place to fit the castle’s distinguished cultural heritage. They created a true palace, as well as thriving relationships with local residents. Aside from supporting two historic churches in the area, the castle is helping fund a community center for the nearby village of Cong.
Each of our lodges has created a special complimentary experience offered exclusively to guests who visit through a National Geographic expedition. At Ashford Castle, National Geographic guests can step back in time with a local historian, who will share tales from the long and colorful history of the castle. Find out how the influential Guinness family helped preserve this castle, and peruse the original albums of Lady Ardilaun, a treasure trove of Irish history that few have seen.
Condé Nast Traveler, Gold List, 2016 Ireland’s Green Hospitality, Gold Award, 2016 Travel + Leisure, World's Best Awards, Best Hotels in the World, 2015 Virtuoso, Best Hotel of the Year, 2015 Condé Nast Traveler, Readers’ Choice Awards, Top Resorts in Europe, 2015 Condé Nast Traveler, Gold List, Best Hotels and Resorts in Ireland, 2014
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