Standing grandly on the shores of Lough Corrib, the iconic Ashford Castle ( in Ireland will be officially unveiled on Friday, April 17th following a complete restoration, enhancement and refurbishment programme that will firmly re-establish it as the most luxurious destination hotel in Ireland.
With a plethora of new additions and amenities, including a 32-seat cinema, billiard room, cigar terrace and children’s games room, the renovation programme will ensure that the castle will provide five-star facilities and levels of luxury synonymous with the award-winning Red Carnation Hotel Collection.
Fishing enthusiasts will have the expertise of one of six gillies now on hand at Ireland’s only Orvis-endorsed property for fishing and all the necessary equipment and accessories can be hired or purchased from the on-site Fishing and Golf Centre.  The castle’s 9-hole golf course has been treated to ensure it offers the best playing conditions all year round. All of these facilities and the outdoor activities on offer at the estate – falconry, horse-riding, water sports, clay pigeon shooting, fishing, hiking, golf and tennis – can also be enjoyed by guests at The Lodge at Ashford Castle, a charming boutique four-star sister hotel within the castle grounds.

On the Shores of Lough Corrib, there is a lot on offer for the angler

“Mrs. Tollman and her team have looked at the needs of Ashford Castle from top to bottom, inside and out and have put together a restoration programme that is truly out of this world,” says Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation Hotels. “It will take Ashford Castle to another level, beyond its already world-class standards. As the project approaches its final stages, there is a palpable excitement throughout Red Carnation and in fact throughout Ireland and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of it.”
Once home to the Guinness family for over 100 years, the castle has welcomed royalty, celebrities and heads of state across its illustrious history including George V (then Prince of Wales), Ronald Reagan, Brad Pitt, John Wayne, Fred Astaire, Barbra Streisand, John Travolta and many more.
Every inch of the glorious castle estate, parts of which date back to 1228, has been carefully examined, restored and enhanced. The design team was headed by Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, Founder and President of Red Carnation Hotels, with the support of her daughter Toni Tollman, the Red Carnation project team and architect Philippe Bonino.
The renovation will ensure family members are well catered for under one historic roof with the addition of a 32-seat cinema, children’s games room and even a Lego Room Service menu to keep younger family members entertained. Adults will appreciate the creation of a splendid billiard room, two outdoor roof terraces (one of which will serve fine Cuban cigars) and an array of enhanced public areas, all of which provide the perfect environment in which to kick back and relax in comfort and style. Couples in search of a romantic hideaway will find exactly that at Ashford Castle where the ancient underground wine stores will be transformed into private dining cellars and the old boat house on the shores of Lake Corrib is set to become a private and secluded honeymoon suite.
Each of the 68 guest rooms and 14 staterooms and suites has been completely and lovingly refurbished and furnished with carefully sourced antique pieces, exquisite fabrics, bespoke carpets, original artwork and marble bathrooms, sensitively complementing the ambience and tradition of this iconic building while incorporating more modern technologies such as I-luv speakers, electronic blinds and air conditioning, mood light dimming, USB chargers in the wall and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
As well as the bedrooms, the existing public areas such as the striking vaulted entrance hall and Library, the Connaught Room, Princes of Wales Bar, Drawing Room and the castle’s three restaurants – the George V dining room, the Cullen’s at the Dungeon and Cullen’s at the Cottage – have all been beautifully enhanced. Enjoy a lavish full Irish Breakfast, light lunch or delicious evening meal in one of these magnificent restaurants for a dining experience with a difference. Guests can also indulge in a tempting Afternoon Tea in the elegant Connaught room.
In true Red Carnation style, no detail has been missed and meticulous attention has been brought to every aspect of this important project. Of particular note is the beautiful array of furnishings, art and antiques. New additions include two stunning stone Irish wolfhounds at the entrance to the castle, a magnificent suit of armour in the entrance hall, an antique lectern in the George V dining room and Murano glass chandeliers from Venice.
Wherever possible, materials and pieces have been sourced from local artisans and suppliers to reflect the hotel’s unique environment. Examples include the Prince of Wales bar which has been made from local Connemara marble and in-room amenities by organic skincare range VOYA from County Sligo. The castle’s illustrious history is also evident throughout and an array of amazing artefacts from the Guinness era of ownership has been sourced to display in the hotel, forging a museum in themselves. Included in this are Lady Ardilaun’s watercolours as well as letters and other documents, which provide tangible evidence of the hotel’s colourful heritage.
Due to the age and scale of the castle, the restoration required a complete overhaul of the building’s infrastructure, including stonework, windows and roofs, to ensure its long-term future. Behind the scenes, the castle’s kitchens have been moved and completely rebuilt on a different level closer to the dining room, facilitating a more efficient and timely service.
The outdoor areas have also been given the tender loving care required with enhancements and expansions. The falconry school, which was Ireland’s first, has been fortified, as has the equestrian centre. The walled and herb gardens have been tidied, and for more active types, the two tennis courts are now all-weather surfaces with an on-site tennis coach who can assist guests looking to perfect their technique.
The final piece of the intricate renovation is the addition of a beautiful spa and indoor ozone-filtrated swimming pool which, subject to the appropriate planning approvals, will open in July 2015 and will reinforce Ashford as the most luxurious destination hotel in Ireland. Guests will be able to work up a sweat in the brand new Techno Gym where a range of cardio and resistance equipment will be on offer. The five spa treatment rooms will offer a range of pampering therapies to soothe, refresh and rejuvenate including aroma stone massages, an invigorating body polish, detoxifying wraps and deep regenerating facials.
To support the improved facilities at the hotel, the staff levels have been significantly increased, boosting employment within the local area. All staff members have undertaken Red Carnation’s award-winning training and development programmes to ensure that the service delivery across the hotel is second to none.
Remaining a constant throughout the entire restoration programme has been Ashford’s General Manager Niall Rochford and his fantastic team. Mr Rochford has presided at Ashford Castle for nearly 13 years and was awarded the prestigious Hotel Manager of the Year 2013 by the Irish Hospitality Institute Founders.