Feel Elite With a Stay at Ireland's Ashford Castle
One way or another, there’s never been a better time to visit a castle.
However Game of Thrones ended, it revived the knightly and courtly dreams of adults who’ve long grown out of fairy tales. Meanwhile, the younger tykes can debate over who plays Elsa or Sofia the First, all while dragging their brothers to their support.
And you? Well, you can enjoy your (relative) peace in the firm embrace of Ashford Castle, a 5-star stay with a historical twist.
The walls that talk
In the same way you need to try authentic Irish dishes while you’re in County Mayo, you must also live out your medieval fantasies in a genuine lord’s castle.
And boy, has the Ashford Castle got a story for you. It was built in 1228, a year after Genghis Khan’s death halfway across the world and 800 years since.
The estate itself passed hands through succession, battle, grants, and later a regular sale. Secret underground passageways, presumably used for escapes and clandestine affairs, turned into the famous wine cellar you see today.
Your quarters might be in the same wing as the bedrooms used by 2 out of 4 members of the Beatles, Robin Williams, and Oscar Wilde. You can find out how this ensemble enjoyed their stay during a guided historical tour of the grounds.
As you can expect from a luxury hotel, certain comforts are part of the package.
There’s a spa in the compound where you can drift along a pool as you follow a striking Irish Celtic myth mural to the side. There’s fine dining, fine wine, and the opportunity to enjoy high tea with your pinky finger raised.
Settling in the old country
What sets the Ashford Castle apart from the other extravagant accommodations are their activities. Depending on how you plan your day, you can pretend you’re an adventurer in the wilderness or a young lordling.
You could train yourself in the finer pursuits of a noble. Gear up and sit saddle side as you trot the grounds with a pony. If you’d rather meet feathered friends, falconry is an option, too.
Ashford is an animal-friendly campus. You can even bring along your own. This is just further evidenced by the clay and apple targets you need to hit when you go shooting with a gun or with a bow.
Participate in the Irish Experience
At the heart of Ashford Castle is a program hosted by select “experience ambassadors.” At any given time, three master artisans, each excelling in a unique craft, call the estate home.
You’re free to visit their workshops and immerse yourself in the genuine practice of Irish craft, food, music, and storytelling.
If you’re in the market for luxury, there’s nothing grander than spending your vacation as royalty would.