The best historical hotels offer the chance to revel in a bygone era—but with plentiful modern amenities. Ashford Castle, in Ireland’s western County Mayo, accomplishes both superbly.
The original castle dates back to 1228, but much of what we see today was created by unofficial Irish royalty: the famed Guinness brewing family, who bought it in the mid-1800s. After a $75-million renovation by new owners, Ashford, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodge collection, retains stonework that’s nearly 800 years old but now features restored interiors and a state-of-the-art spa.
“It’s not just a hotel stay,” says general manager Niall Rochford. “It is an experience, living the dream of staying in a genuine castle with top technology and creature comforts.”
Adventurous on-site activities include the ancient arts of falconry, archery, and clay shooting. The lakeside grounds were featured in the 1952 drama The Quiet Man (John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara stayed at Ashford while filming). You can watch the film, and other hits, in the sumptuous new cinema with red velvet chairs. Schedule a private screening for you and your entourage.
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Annie Fitzsimmons frequently covers luxury travel for National Geographic Traveller. Follow her journey on Twitter.
Header Image: Dawn breaks over Ashford Castle. PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM PARKER