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Image / Living / Travel

Irish staycations: Ashford Castle, Cong, Mayo


By Melanie Morris
25th Jul 2022
Irish staycations: Ashford Castle, Cong, Mayo

Is there any nicer way to catch up with your loved ones than by booking a hotel break away together? Here, Melanie Morris shares her favourite Irish spot that's perfect for a night away with your parents – Ashford Castle in Mayo.

WHO TO BRING? Your parents.

WHAT? A trip that will ensure the most special memories are made for a lifetime, Ashford Castle is quite simply the star jewel in Irish hospitality’s already impressive crown.

Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle’s beautifully decorated Reagan Suite bedroom

WHY? From the moment you cross the 19th century stone bridge connecting Galway to Mayo, and the caped doorman who heralds your arrival at the castle, the frisson of excitement is undeniable. Ashford Castle is known to so many generations of Irish holidaymakers, but in its latest iteration, since Red Carnation Hotels offered the most caring of makeovers, it is at its most glorious.

Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle’s expansive gardens, which have a wonderful mix of formal and informal areas

HIGHLIGHTS: Ashford Castle is a destination hotel, a resort property and a grand estate with countless ways to enjoy it. Shooting, fishing, boating, tennis, horse riding, zip-lining, golf and falconry are all available by day, the spa offers myriad ways to pamper and unwind, while afternoon tea in The Connaught Room is a glorious treat. There’s the castle’s billiard room, the cinema showing screenings of The Quiet Man, and endless comfy nooks in which to unfurl with the most divine outdoor views.

There are seven dining options, all offering completely immersive and unique experiences, but the truly special touches to me are the fairytale bedrooms, each designed with a level of individual attention I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any other hotel; walking down a formal avenue lined with 90 flourishing cherry blossom trees planted to honour Red Carnation’s founder, the late Stanley Tollman, is pure beauty; the carved roast ham at breakfast was the most delicious start to every day; and the warmest of chat and welcome by a team who have worked at the castle for decades lifted my spirits higher than anything the last two years could have tried to crush.

This is a holiday that will energise, enliven and restore body and soul for all generations.

Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle’s spa has a beautiful Tree of Life mural along the length of the pool

THIS SPRING: History, Heritage and Hospitality: Celebrate Ireland’s Centenary at Ashford Castle, a weekend of talks and insights with prolific historians and broadcasters David McCullagh, Myles Dungan and Turtle Bunbury. Two nights, with breakfast both mornings, along with all lectures, plus dinner on one night in the historic George V dining room, from €1,775 pps. Overnight midweek stays from €575 including breakfast, taxes and complimentary green fees for the 9-hole golf course.

Photography by Melanie Mullan and Barry Murphy. This article originally appeared in the Spring issue of IMAGE Magazine, 2022.