Ashford Castle towers over its impressive gardens and green golfing fields. After a two and a half hour drive from Dublin, we were greeted at the gate by a man in a traditional green coat and black top hat. He welcomed us in, directed us through a few twists and turns, past the castle, and up a hill through a wooded area to The Lodge at Ashford Castle.
Set on the grounds of Ashford Castle, The Lodge offers views down Lough Corrib and, adding interest in the foreground, Lisloughrey Quay with small boats in the harbour and its old stone buildings set against wooded hills.The Lodge at Ashford Castle is nestled in the outskirts of the charming village of Cong, which is also home to the making of one of Ireland’s greatest films, ‘The Quiet Man’.
While we were at first disappointed not to be staying in Ashford Castle, the Lodge at Ashford Castle turns out to be delightful and cozy with the same access to the grounds and activities as Castle guests. There are a series of public rooms, restaurants and bars, both inside and outside, The hotel is a fine period house which was once home to the General Manager of Ashford Castle. Behind it, new accommodation has been added discreetly in two-bedroom units, built around an attractive landscaped courtyard. The Lodge gives direct access to a bar, restaurant, and other public areas, including outside seating on the lawn at the front of the house. It’s very pleasant and felt more cozy than the Castle itself.
There are 24 bedrooms and 26 unique suites on the property, some in the old house, and others around the courtyard behind the house. Suites have separate living areas and private balconies. The bathrooms have underfloor heating so your little tootsies won’t get cold. They even bring a special touch of aromas of toiletries by L’Occitane.
We stayed in a The Quay Suite and our kids in the Duplex Suite which is spread over two floors. The downstairs living area has high ceilings with a comfortable sofa and armchair, a contemporary fireplace and an oversized TV and player. Double glass doors lead out onto a private terrace. My issue was that in the bathroom, there was no outlet to plug in a blowdryer. But this turns out to be regulation in Ireland which bans hair dryers in bathrooms.
After dropping off our luggage in our rooms we were ready for a bite to eat. The Lodge has a few dining options from it’s casual outside seating to two indoor restaurants: Quay Bar and Brasserie Restaurant and Wilde’s at the Lodge.The fancier of the two indoor restaurants is Wilde’s at the Lodge, servicing tradition Irish cuisine and requires reservations. In addition to these restaurants the property offers two meeting rooms. The Harbour Room at The Lodge of Ashford Castle is perfect for a wedding party, with stunning panoramic views.
Wilde’s at the Lodge
Named after local legend Sir William Wilde this restaurant is in two rooms on the first floor. We were seated by a table near the window, which give us the benefit of admiring the sweeping views over the waters of Lough Corrib while enjoying a intimate setting. After ordering some tradition Irish drinks, we enjoyed the Tasting Menu of an assortment of delicious meal combinations. My husband thinks that this was one of the finest meals that we’ve ever had, stay tuned for the detailed review (coming soon).
They serve the continental breakfast in the morning from 7:30 – 10 a.m. in the Wilde’s Restaurant, which consists of everything from fruit salads to muffins, there is also a comprehensive warm breakfast menu which is made from scratch to your liking.
The big attraction at Ashford Castle are the grounds, which are extensive, you can spend hours just wondering around the grounds and admiring the gardens. Some of the activities include touring the Castle (definitely worth doing), organized activities like skeet shooting, renting bikes, boat rides on the lake, fly fishing, walks into Cong, horseback riding and the Hawk Walk at the School of Falconry. We walked extensively through the grounds, went horse-back riding, and biking.
The Lodge at Ashford Castle is the perfect hideaway retreat. It’s conveniently located just a 40-minute drive from Galway and neighbouring Westport and Connemara. The Lodge at Ashford Castle is the latest addition to the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, a family-run collection of award-winning boutique hotels located in the UK, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA.
Disclosure: The Lodge at Ashford Castle kindly hosted our stay at a reduced rate and provided us with a lovely dinner at the Wilde’s at the Lodge Restaurant one evening. This is solely my personal opinion/experiences.