The castle is fabulous and the grounds spectacular, no doubt about it. I appreciate history, art and architecture so the place is amazing. The activities offered by the hotel is one of the reasons I wanted to stay. We enjoyed golf, falconry, bike riding and fishing (separate reviews). However, except for the golf all of these activities are separate fees and in some cases totally separate businesses not affiliated with Ashford. This makes the hotel difficult to rate because although there are those who will stay for one night for the experience of staying at a castle and do nothing but soak up the beautiful surroundings, I just can't see paying to stay there for more than one night UNLESS you take advantage of the activities.
Hotel: The reception service was first class. The doorman was on top of everything. The check-out desk exchanges foreign currency with no fees, which was very helpful and much appreciated. The hallways, lobbies and sitting areas beautiful and clean. Fresh flowers throughout, which in my experience separates 4 Star hotels from 5 Star. Take the time to look around the different rooms and admire the beautiful art work, carved wood accents and fireplaces. Our actual room was dated but clean and the bathroom needed a bit of work. Bed was uncomfortable. We did not have dinner at the hotel because my husband wasn't about to pack a jacket for just one evening's use but did dine in the George V Room twice for breakfast and it is a really beautiful room with exceptional service. Great variety for breakfast. Breakfast attire was anywhere from business suits to men in shorts and flip-flops and women with their bellies hanging out of their crew-necked t-shirts (really????). Such a strict dress code for dinner yet anything goes for breakfast held in the same room. The night time entertainment (?) in the Drawing Room was horrible. This woman is more suited to entertain in a retirement community. She continuously lauded and flirted with some of the men in the room with us (all much older than she was) and was annoying. This, coupled with the fact that we could not seem to get any service, drove us out of the room and there are no other options for socializing in the evening. They have a Dungeon Room downstairs that is open in the winter when Cullen's is closed (maybe I have this wrong) but it was empty and it seems could be put to good use for those who would like to socialize in the evenings in a more relaxed atmosphere. With a little effort management can make the stay a little more appealing for the younger (30-50's) crowd.
We have stayed at some beautiful 5 Star resorts over the years and while I appreciate luxury I don't want to be treated as if I am lucky to be at their hotel/resort. The servers in Cocktail Bar, like those in the Drawing room, were beyond snooty. A couple we were sitting with and ourselves were continually ignored in favor of locals/regulars?? We were celebrating our 25th Anniversary but did not expect the hotel to do anything 'special' because if they did that for everyone the room rates would probably go up. Everyone is there for some special something.
Ashford caters to one or two-nighters, like us, who do not want to blow their whole vacation budget in one place or are celebrating special events. People pay the high room rate (ours was $600 USD, although the USD to Euro exchange rate is hardly the hotels problem) for the opportunity to stay at the castle and I don't regret that we did.... for one night. The hotel has been sold (the new owners or managers were there when we visited) and I hope that after the much needed renovations they do not raise the room rate so high as to exclude younger visitors of being able to enjoy this romantic, fairy tale atmosphere.
For those who want to enjoy Ashford but don't want to stay more than one night my advise would be to arrive early the day of your booking to make sure you get the most out of your day at Ashford, leave your bags at reception and go on a hawk walk (must) or rent a bike and perhaps take a bottle of wine and some crackers/cheese and enjoy the miles of absolutely gorgeous trails along the rivers and lakes, Cong town, Cong Abbey and the Monk's Fishing Hut (very easy ride). This can all be done before you even check in. Enjoy some of the other activities (golf, fishing, clay target shooting and horseback riding, lake cruise, archery) and eat dinner at Cullen's at the Cottage which is on the property (fabulous food). Likewise, after check out time you can still leave your luggage at reception and enjoy the activities offered through the hotel. Reception is very accommodating and the activity desk will arrange everything for you if you haven't already done so. Take advantage of the activities offered and you won't cringe at the room rates because it becomes part of the overall experience, which truly is magical.
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Otel and Venere so you can book your Ashford Castle reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Ashford Castle Hotel Cong
- Ashford Castle Ireland/Cong