Short Break - Ashford Castle, Galway - Fit for a Queen
You don't have to be Kate Middleton to wake up in a castle, as Janet Reeder discovers on a trip to Ireland
I am in a castle and in one of the grandest of rooms. There's a four poster bed, sherry on the sideboard and view of Lough Corrib outside my window that is to die for. It's as if I am in my own Kate Middleton fantasy!
And you know what? I don't even have to wake up from it at all, because it is all amazingly true. I am at stunning Ashford castle in Cong, Co Mayo, Ireland, one of the most romantic places you could ever stay.
We are languishing in the oldest part of this historic edifice, which dates back to the 13thcentury and are in one of the state rooms, the sort of place where the royal newlyweds might find themselves. The 350-acre Ashford estate has indeed been a magnet for a host of regal and vogue-ish clientele like George V who when he was Prince of Wales was so enamoured with the place he extended his original stay of a few days to a few months. Ronald Regan. Pearce Brosnan and John Wayne have all enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of the place.
Over the centuries the castle changed hands until the Guinness family took it over and adapted it into a chateau-esque place. It was and still is a wonderful location for a break and even in its present incarnation as a five star hotel, it gives you the feeling of being more like guest of the castle than a mere punter.
For example, after dining amid the splendour of the George V Room, waited on by the wonderful staff, fed on the most delicious food and lulled into a state of indulgent relaxation it was time to enter the drawing room where resident chanteuse and pianist entertained us with some stirring songs, occasionally coaxing one of the gathering up to sing an Irish rebel song, or a romantic ballad. It was such a wonderful experience.
For those with more energy, fishing on Lough Corrib, a nine-hole golf course and one of the most advanced equestrian centres in the country are amongst the local attractions, as well as the village of Cong, which is noted for being the location for the John Wayne movie The Quiet Man.
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We combined our visit to Ireland with a trip to Galway and an overnight at the G hotel, which in direct contrast to Ashford Castle is the embodiment of modern luxury and includes an amazing Espa spa. Famed milliner Philip Tracey is the talent behind the extravagant design of the place, while Stefan Metz is group executive chef, presiding over the G and Ashford Castle.
Rooms are designed to include every comfort but it is the bars and restaurants that have the wow factor and the cocktails were a necessary extravagance in the stunning bar. Factsheet...
Janet Reeder flew to Galway with Aer Arann Express www.aerarann.com and returned to Manchester via West Knock to Manchester with BMI Baby www.bmibaby.com
Ashford Castle: www.ashford.ie
G Hotel: www.theghotel.ie
Contact the websites for current prices