Five-star luxury in an Irish castle
PUBLISHED: 17:43 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:00 20 February 2013
If you are looking for a laid-break break with five-star service as standard, give Ashford Castle in Ireland a go
WHEN it comes to ticking the romance box, it does not get much higher than a five-star castle in a remote part of Ireland. Ashford Castle is true romance and opulence at its best, offering the prefect retreat to really relax and refresh.
Yet at the same time there are plenty of activities on offer at the castle and plenty of places to visit nearby so if you want a treat for all the family this is the ideal location.
It was originally built as a castle in the 13th century and rebuilt as a hunting and fishing lodge in the 1800s. But today Ashford Castle, which is celebrating its 70th year as a hotel, is one of the most luxurious castle hotels in the world and the former estate of the Guinness family.
An Irish welcome
Set on the banks of Lough Corrib in Cong, County Mayo, the grandeur of the castle hits you the minute you round the final curve of the golf course and the majestic building appears in front of you, beside the glistening lake.
The Irish are well known for their hospitality and Ashfords staff are no different. All the staff are welcoming and extremely accommodating, ready to help you with any query and keen for you to quickly feel at home.
Each guest room is individual with many retaining their original features with traditional and luxurious furnishings but at the same time equipped with modern amenities. Choose from a Suite, Staterooom, Deluxe or a Corrib room, overlooking the lake.
Plenty to do
If you want to do more than just stroll through the expansive grounds hand-in-hand, then you could try trout or salmon fishing. The Corrib is one of the most famous places for fishing in Ireland and the castle Ghillie can provide all the equipment you need for a full or half days boat fishing, so there is no need to worry about taking your own equipment.
If fishing is not your style then other activities available include archery, horse riding, golf, tennis, clay pigeon shooting and falconry. Or head off on a lake cruise to learn more about the 365 islands on Lough Corrib.
But for those who want to take it totally easy, the hotel offers a range of treatments, including massages, in its treatment rooms, where there is also a Jacuzzi and a sun room to relax in after your treatment.
The evening begins
After a relaxing day, dress for dinner and head for the drawing room or Prince of Wales cocktail bar and listen to the soft notes of the pianist as you sip an aperitif. For fine dining, overseen by Michelin-starred chef Stefan Matz, book a table in the hotels opulent George V dining room. Or if you prefer more casual dining then head for Cullens at the Cottage which offers a bistro-style menu and more informal dining less than a five minute walk away in the hotel grounds.
And after all that delicious food head back to the Prince of Wales for a post-dinner drink or down to the Dungeon Bar to enjoy a sing-a-long to traditional Irish music.
The George V is also the place where you will enjoy your Irish breakfast, with a vast array of foods on offer, while the Drawing Room serves lunches and is also the ideal location for a sumptuous afternoon tea, overlooking Lough Corrib.
Out and about
If you want to explore some of Irelands heritage then head for the village of Cong with its two churches and the Monks Fishing House which is the entrance to the ruins of the Abbey of Cong. Head further afield and there are numerous old abbeys and churches to discover. But a trip to this beautiful part of Ireland would not be complete without simply taking time to head for a drive along the small, winding and practically deserted roads through County Mayos stunning landscape or heading for Connemara National Park.
Getting to Ashford has never been easier or cheaper with a number of carriers servicing its three closest airports Galway, Knock and Shannon and flight times are less than 90 minutes. Ryanair flies to Knock from Luton and Stanstead airports. Visit www.ryanair.com to book flights
Car hire Ashford is 64km from West Ireland International Airport in Knock. You can hire a car from the airport. Visit www.sixt.ie for car hire details.
For further information on Holidays in Ireland visit www.discoverireland.com or call 08000 039 7000
INFORMATION: Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo, Ireland, www.ashford.ie. Ashford Castle is a short drive from Shannon, Galway or Knock Airports.