Who hasn’t dreamed of living in a castle at one time in their life. I have come to accept I will never own my own castle but I love the idea of vacationing in one. There are many Castle Hotels throughout Europe but Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo, Ireland is considered one the best and was magical to visit. The Medieval Castle was originally built in the 13th century and was largely extended by The Guinness family in the 19th Century. The Guinness family is also responsible for planting the breathtaking forest that covers the castle grounds.
Our visit there was truly a fairy tale come true. My 3 children could not have been happier and were treated like royalty from the moment we arrived. They each received a cookie with their name, a keepsake personalized storybook, 2 toy swords and a toy fairy for my youngest, as well as child sized robes and slippers. My boys defended the castle grounds for days with their swords; I love it when play is encouraged during a visit to a luxury resort!
It is hard to say what the children enjoyed the most. I would certainly say a highlight for the entire group was the School of Falconry on the grounds. We walked into the forest with a hawk on my arm, taking turns setting him free to fly and return to our arms with a little gift of meat. What a unique and special experience and enjoyed by every person in our party from the grandparents to the 3 year old. Our guide treated our children so well, was kind, understanding and informative; he was especially kind to my 5 year old who is fascinated by birds of prey and answered all of his questions. Watching the hawk swoop through the branches of the thick green magical forest was magnificent.
The ladies of our party enjoyed High Tea in the parlour. My 3 year old had her first sip of pink tea, fell in love with scones and had peanut butter sandwiches with lots of desserts. She was delighted by the whole process.
Our other favorite activities were just roaming the castle grounds and forest, and horseback riding through the stunning forest. Every time we entered the forest, we were entering a fairy tale. We even stumbled upon a former guardhouse in ruins and covered in vines. My children were convinced we were the first explorers to discover it. I am not sure which was more magical,
or it’s surroundings?
Last but not least, the rooms were stunning. We had two Deluxe rooms for our party of 7 which were very comfortable. The only negative comment I have about our castle stay is that they do not offer suites big enough for a family of 5. We were fortunate to have 7 in our party and 2 rooms. They do offer adjoining rooms but you need to book in advance; the castle books up fast.
There is so much offered at Ashford, we weren’t able to do it all and our children were too young for some activities. When we return and the kids are a bit older, I will be sure to include clay shooting, archery, zip-lining, and most certainly the award winning spa.
Contact me if you want a magical stay at Ashford Castle.