Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

October 18, 2022

HOTEL GUIDE: A Luxurious 24 Hour Stay at Ashford Castle in Ireland.

       In May 2022, my mom and I finally got to take a trip that we had patiently been waiting two and a half years for! We did the Irish Elegance tour with Insight Vacations and spent a full week exploring various regions of Ireland. I will be doing a full recap of our whole trip soon, but first I wanted to do a dedicated blog post for what was not only the best hotel of the trip, but one of the best hotels I've ever stayed at in my life. Spending 24 hours at Ashford Castle was a dream come true, and I am excited to share it with you!


      Ashford Castle is a 5-star luxury hotel that is actually housed within a beautiful medieval castle. It's located on the line between County Mayo and County Galway, in the western part of Ireland. It's also located right on Lough Corrib, which is Ireland's largest lake! Ashford Castle was built in the 1200s, and was inhabited by wealthy families for many centuries until becoming a hotel in 1939. Its real claim to fame came in 1951, when the classic film The Quiet Man was filmed on the grounds of the hotel. (Fun fact: The Quiet Man plays on a nonstop loop on one of the TV channels that guests can access in their rooms!)

       This hotel truly is a 5-star experience in every sense of the word. I'm not sure that I will ever again stay somewhere with quite so much unique charm, history and luxury combined into one experience. Ashford Castle truly feels like it could be the setting for the next season of Bridgerton, I felt like an actual princess walking around the grounds! The amenities and activities that Ashford Castle offers to guests are numerous. I wish we had more than 24 hours here so I could've enjoyed more of them! The activities on the property include: a world class golf course, horseback riding, exploring the estate gardens, lake cruises, spa services, visiting the falconry, and so, so many more. You could spend a full week without leaving Ashford Castle and never get bored.

       While you can drive right up to Ashford Castle (just like with a normal hotel), they also give you the option of crossing Lough Corrib and arriving via boat! Since we were traveling with a tour group, the tour arranged for all participants to arrive by boat. We boarded the boat near the nearby village of Cong, and I think the boat ride lasted about 45 or so minutes! We got to see a lot of sights from Lough Corrib before headed towards Ashford. All groups that arrive at Ashford Castle via boat are greeted with bagpipes, and it was truly quite a sight to behold! Upon arrival, our group was escorted inside the castle, greeted with cocktails, and given our room keys and information about the property. You can see a picture below is of what a room key looks like, it was the biggest and most unique room key of any hotel that I'd ever stayed at! So fitting for such a marvelous hotel. 

      The rooms at Ashford are fairly spacious (for European hotel room standards) and decorated beautifully!! I found the red walls of our room to be a unique color choice, but the beautiful decor made it all come together. I believe we stayed in a Junior Stateroom, but the Suite sized rooms were even larger than ours.

     Dining is a formal affair at Ashford. Since we were visiting with a tour group, there was special menu created for our group's dinner, separate from what was being served in the main restaurant that evening. It was an elegant plated dinner with multiple courses! What an experience. There's a picture of our menu below! I selected the steak as my main course. (While I did really enjoy dinner at Ashford and found the food to be delicious- I have to give a shout-out here and acknowledge that the best steak of my life was still the one I had earlier in the year at The Greenbrier. 😊)

    But what we really need to discuss is BREAKFAST at Ashford ... oh my goodness. I'm pretty certain this was best breakfast of my entire life!! Just like dinner, breakfast is a multi-course experience at Ashford Castle. For the first course, I selected the Irish Charcuterie Plate. This was some of the best charcuterie that I've ever eaten, I still think about it! I had a cheese plate for dessert the previous night at dinner, but I think the cheeses in the breakfast cheese plate tasted even better!

      Ashford Castle also employs a juice sommelier at breakfast hours. I had thought the term sommelier only applied to wine experts, but at Ashford they have a juice sommelier as well. He pushes around a cart and will pour the freshest and most delicious juice and smoothie blends for you right at the table. It was such a fancy and fun touch to an already wonderful breakfast. For my main course, I had the pancakes! They were amazingly fluffy and so flavorful. I continue to have dreams about how good breakfast was at Ashford Castle!

     As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, there are a multitude of activities that you can do at Ashford Castle. Since we were only staying there for one night, we had to prioritize what we most wanted to do during our short stay. At first, I really wanted to book Afternoon Tea. I'm a huge tea drinker and I thought doing high tea in a place as fancy as Ashford would be unforgettable. My mom was really interested in touring the falconry that's on the property at Ashford, and she ended up selling me on that too. Although tea would've been fun, I'm so glad my mom and I opted to do the falconry tour and Hawk Walk instead!! One of the coolest animal experiences that I've ever had. (You do have to pay extra to visit Ireland Falconry- it is not included with lodging.)

     Ireland Falconry is located right on the grounds at Ashford Castle, and it is home to hawks, owls, and more beautiful birds! Guests at Ashford are able to book a Hawk Walk, which is a guided walk where participants can help fly the hawks (with the help of an instructor)! My mom and I signed up for this, as well as several people from our Insight tour group. The hawk that I got to fly was named Maya! I will let the pictures below speak for themselves and share more of our experience on our Hawk Walk! 

     Staying the night at Ashford Castle is a travel experience that I will never forget! It was by far the highlight for me of the Ireland trip- hence why I wanted to dedicate a whole blog post to it. I doubt I would ever be able to afford staying at Ashford Castle on my own... the normal rates for weeknights start at $500+, and weekends are $1000+ (at the low end). We stayed weeknight with our Insight Vacations group, and I'm sure since it was booked through our tour, they're able to get a much better deal. I definitely made enough memories in our brief visit to last a lifetime though! If a stay at Ashford Castle is in your budget, I can't recommend it enough! 

      God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


1 comment

  1. What a wonderful experience you had. It all looks so beautiful.
    I was in Ireland many years ago when in high school.


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