Ashford Castle: About

Located in Mayo, Ireland

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.

Highlights

  • Wake up amid regal splendor in a historic castle, and enjoy a full Irish breakfast.
  • Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at the lodge’s sumptuous, chandelier-lit restaurant, or venture through age-old stone tunnels to the wine cellars for a tasting.
  • Pedal along more than 20 miles of bike trails, play golf on the property’s nine-hole course, or head out on hikes along the neighboring lakeshore.
  • Watch a movie in the castle cinema, or shoot pool among stately antiques.
  • Enjoy access to all kinds of activities that befit the Irish countryside: falconry, horseback riding, archery, fly-fishing, and much more.

Why We Love This Lodge

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.

Lodge Features

  • 83 rooms, including 21 the oldest part of the hotel, 61 in the newer wings, and a refurbished boathouse beside the lake
  • Three restaurants, including a sumptuous formal dining room, a bistro serving up Irish fare, and a casual cottage eatery offering international cuisine
  • An in-house movie theater, complete with popcorn, beverages, and snacks
  • A billiards room, cigar terrace, and a stately bar
  • Wine cellars accessed by 19th-century underground tunnels
  • A state-of-the-art spa and fitness center with five treatment rooms and a relaxation pool
  • A library stocked with historic books
  • Raincoats, rubber boots, and umbrellas available for guest use
  • Numerous rooms that can be used for private dining or events, and 24-hour room service
  • Wi-fi throughout the property
  • Laundry and dry cleaning available

National Geographic Exclusive

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.

Awards and Recognitions

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

Photos from Our Lodge and Travelers

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