What it's like to stay inside the best hotel in Ireland, and one of the best in the world

Ashford Castle George V dining roomAshford CastleThe Guinness family built this dining room in honour of King George V, who visited Ashford Castle in 1905.

Ashford Castle, which sits on 350 acres on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, Ireland, is a five-star hotel that treats its guests to sheer opulence.

Dating back to 1228, the castle has luxurious rooms with plush beds and almost every activity guests can imagine, from cycling to lessons at Ireland’s oldest falconry school.

The hotel ranked 4th on our list of the best hotels in Europe and was our top-ranked hotel in Ireland, in addition to being 3rd on Travel + Leisure’s ranking of the world’s best hotels last year.

Here’s why Ashford Castle is the perfect place for guests looking to feel like royalty.

Ashford Castle is set on 350 acres of the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, Ireland.

Ashford Castle

Dating back to 1228, it underwent a two-year, $75 million renovation to create the elegant design it boasts today. As guests enter, they are greeted by a warm and rich lobby with red draperies.

Ashford Castle

Source: Travel + Leisure

Guests can relax on the plush velvet couches or enjoy a game of chess in the lobby.

Ashford Castle

There's a cinema room that's been designed with the comfort of a traditional movie theatre. Red velvet chairs allow for plenty of leg room for guests to enjoy while they watch a selection of daily movies.

Ashford Castle

The Prince of Wales Bar was built in the late 1800s and is filled with opulent fabrics, warm wood paneling, and its original fireplace. In 1905, the bar was visited by the Prince of Wales himself, who would later become King George V of England.

Ashford Castle

The hotel later named the George V Dining Room in his honour. Built by the Guinness family, the dining room is filled with Waterford Crystal chandeliers, a resident pianist, and exceptional dishes like slow-roasted rib of beef and pear sorbets from Chef Phillipe Farineau.

Ashford Castle

There's also a cosy billiards room where visitors can relax, unwind, and play a few rounds.

Ashford Castle

The Connaught Room is ideal for private dining or for enjoying Afternoon Tea -- an Ashford Castle tradition that dates back to 1868, when Lord and Lady Ardilaun would have a cup of tea while discussing their plans for the day. The room provides spectacular views of the gardens and Lough Corrib, and service includes a selection of specialty teas, finger sandwiches, warm scones, pastries, and cupcakes.

Ashford Castle

There is also the Drawing Room, where visitors can sip on morning coffee and order light lunches from the bar menu while enjoying expansive views of Lough Corrib.

Ashford Castle

On the lower ground floor is Cullen's at the Dungeon, which serves up a bistro-style menu focusing on traditional Irish cuisine. Diners can enjoy local dishes, like an Irish Stew filled with slow-braised lamb and garden vegetables, beneath the historic curved stone ceiling of the castle.

Ashford Castle

The new Spa and Fitness Center provides guests with a sanctuary where they can forget about their worries while taking in uninterrupted views across Lough Corrib. The spa includes a steam room as well as a terrace area.

Ashford Castle

But besides these amenities, there is also a relaxation pool for guests in a room accented by seashell chandeliers.

Ashford Castle

Massages can be enjoyed in one of five treatment rooms in the spa, some of which include lengthy windows to create a bright and airy space. Guests can choose from a menu of facials, scrubs, detoxifying wraps, and aroma and marine therapy, among other treatments.

Ashford Castle

The spa also has its own gym with floor-to-ceiling windows, lots of fitness equipment, and personal trainers guests can reserve.

Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle has 82 rooms in total, with 68 unique guest rooms and 14 luxurious staterooms and suites. The Corrib Rooms are recently refurbished and include king-size beds, movies and music on-demand, fresh flowers, and luxurious 400-thread-count Egyptian Cotton monogrammed bedding.

Ashford Castle

The Junior Staterooms come with fabulous views and exquisite four-poster beds. Some also offer a split-level sitting area.

Ashford Castle

The staterooms are located in the oldest part of the castle, which dates back to the 13th and 17th centuries. Most of the rooms come with original fireplaces, antique furniture, and pedestal claw baths, and all of them have high ceilings and views of Lough Corrib.

Ashford Castle

The suites include king-size beds, sofa beds, views of the River Cong or Lough Corrib, and a large private dining space.

Ashford Castle

The colourful patterns in each suite vary to match guests' preferences, from rich reds to serene greens.

Ashford Castle

With plenty of space to sit down and relax, guests can feel as if they are in their own private home.

Ashford Castle

Even the restrooms are elegantly decorated, with deep-sinking tubs, lush curtains, and a place to set your drink while you unwind.

Ashford Castle

But the Reagan Presidential Suite is the most opulent of all. The split-level suite is located in the oldest wing of Ashford Castle and features original art displays, beautiful chandeliers, and a four-poster bed.

Ashford Castle

Floor-to-ceiling windows provide views of Lough Corrib, while individually sourced antique furnishings make guests feel like royalty.

Ashford Castle

Guests can also request to occupy two adjacent rooms so that they have their own private, three-bedroom wing in the castle. The estate also has activities for guests that include fishing, clay shooting, archery, golf, cycling, kayaking, horseback riding, and tennis.

Ashford Castle

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