By Amy Lauginghouse
Originally appeared in March 2015 issue of Virtuoso Life
Ashford Castle has presided over the shores of Lough Corrib in the west of Ireland for nearly 800 years and has counted Oscar Wilde, Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace, and Hollywood royalty such as Brad Pitt and Pierce Brosnan among its guests.
Things are about to get even more glamorous, thanks to new owner Red Carnation Hotel Collection. The group has recently given this 350-acre estate a restorative makeover. Here’s an exclusive peek at what guests can expect when it reopens at the end of March.
Rooms fit for a king:
Walls swathed in rich fabrics, beds dressed in Egyptian cotton linens, and antiques spanning the centuries create cohesion throughout the 71 rooms, six staterooms, and five suites – but each room’s decor remains beautifully distinct. A mahogany Georgian wardrobe and four-poster bed are among the furnishings in Suite 221, where President Ronald Reagan once stayed. Stateroom 224 – where Ted Kennedy was a guest – includes an antique Italian bed embellished with cherubs, a Flemish-tapestry-covered armchair, and an eighteenth-century Spanish walnut armoire. Meanwhile, Room 329 entices guests to linger in the bathroom with its stained-glass windows in the shower and a canopy over the bathtub.
Posh public spaces:
In the George V dining room, mirrored panels above the wainscoting now enhance the sparkle of the 11 Waterford crystal chandeliers, while the drawing room conveys simple elegance with furniture upholstered in flocked blue velvet.
Nibble popcorn while ensconced in a red-velvet armchair in the new 32-seat theater. You can catch different movies throughout the week, or watch The Quiet Man, filmed in the adjacent village of Cong, any evening you like. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara stayed in Rooms 500 and 408, respectively, during the shoot.
Sip whiskey by the pool (table, that is):
A new billiards room with a bar specializing in whiskey and brandy opens onto a rooftop terrace that serves Cuban cigars.
Sample wines at a private winetasting in a sixteenth-century tunnel, discovered during renovations, that now houses a wine cellar.
Bring it home:
Bundle up in Ashford Castle’s custom-designed tweed, a handsome pattern in green, brown, and rust, available as scarves, caps, vests, and jackets. Doubles from $300, including breakfast daily and one massage per room.
If you'd be interested in securing a room at Ashford Castle, click below to connect with a Virtuoso advisor.