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Set in woodland overlooking steely Lough Corrib, imposing Ashford Castle is one of the most highly rated hotels in Europe. It is a place steeped in history and opulence and has hosted royalty, world leaders and celebrities. You will be greeted by formally dressed doormen in top hats and brought into a grand wood-paneled reception area bedecked with Murano glass and Waterford crystal.

Hallways are lined with portraits and suits of armor, while the period-style rooms feature elegant antique or replica furniture, windows framed with thick drapes, patterned wallpaper and soft rugs.

A stay provides plenty of opportunities for entertainment with secret passageways leading to wine cellars, four dining rooms serving indulgent meals, and a cinema offering daily screenings.

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Audley Travel specialist Andea

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Rooms

Maintaining the air of period grandeur that the public rooms convey, guest rooms are similarly styled with lavish attention to detail and extravagant decor. The large, inviting beds with their plush bedding and soft blankets provide the utmost comfort and while modern luxuries include complimentary Wi-Fi, interactive plasma screen TVs, Bluetooth speakers and electronic blinds, the castle’s original features are still reflected in the patterned wallpaper, custom-designed rugs and elegant, often antique, furniture.

Location

Well secluded in extensive grounds on the shore of Lough Corrib, the castle enjoys views out onto the River Corrib from guest rooms as well as the outdoor terrace. Beyond the estate lies the 'savage beauty' of Connemara so beloved of Oscar Wilde. The Connemara National Park is about an hour's drive away and vibrant Galway about 50 minutes away by car. Just beyond the castle gates is the small town of Cong, which has a few shops and restaurants as well as a museum dedicated to the film The Quiet Man which was shot locally.

Food and Drink

Four dining rooms offer a range of relaxed to formal options. The George V Dining Room, named after a visit by the Prince of Wales who subsequently became the British monarch, offers fine dining in palatial surroundings while the atmospheric Dungeon and more contemporary Cullen’s at the Cottage offer more traditional, bistro-style menus. Afternoon tea can be taken in the regal Connaught Room and includes handmade pastries and cupcakes made with care by the head pastry chef. The 16th-century Wine Cellar bar and its adjoining passageways offer daily wine tastings and intimate wine dinners.

Families

Families are more than welcome at Ashford Castle. The hotel has plenty of facilities to entertain younger guests, from scavenger hunts to fairy paths, and specially-made storybooks for bedtime that make your child the hero.

Facilities and Activities

At Ashford Castle guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to activities. The staff can arrange a seemingly endless list of activities, among the most popular being golf, tennis and falconry. There is also a classic Hollywood-style cinema that hosts daily screenings of popular movies both old and new, including weekly showings of The Quiet Man, which was filmed on site and in the surrounding countryside.

Our opinion

A truly sumptuous property, Ashford Castle offers all the trimmings of a medieval castle with the comforts of elegant contemporary living.

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    Alternative places to stay nearby

    Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favorite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.

    Experiences while staying here

    The following activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences of the area where you’re staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident’s eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can also suggest outdoor pursuits and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the traditions of the area’s inhabitants.