|Mr Fluff admiring my post facial glow!|
Ireland continues to blow me away with its hospitality offerings. For such a little country we are absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to unique and special locations and venues with food, service and scenery that are the stuff of memories and dreams. The Lodge at Ashford Castle is a case in point and my new favourite place ever: we spent just one night here to celebrate our anniversary, and are chomping at the bit to get back.
|Anniversary treats - we brought our own champagne!|
Nestled in the grounds of Ashford Castle itself, on the outskirts of Cong village in County Mayo, The Lodge was once home to the Guinness family's estate manager and is now a charming 4-star boutique hotel, operated by the same management group as its 5-star sister. It’s surrounded by greenery from gardens to forests, and the views include the beautiful Lough Corrib and the charming little harbour at Lisloughrey Quay, from where you can take a cruise of the lake.
The ambience is second to none. Eclectic, cosy elegance is how I’d describe the interiors style; the public areas are decked out with original artworks, velvet sofas, wooden floors and comfy leather armchairs, while the bedrooms have more of a glamorous, contemporary feel; think deep pile carpets, gigantic beds, L’Occitane toiletries and traditional sash windows opening out onto that glorious view.
And the food – sweet Jesus, the food. Wilde’s Restaurant serves up some of the best we’ve ever had. It looked great and tasted better and if this place doesn’t have a Michelin star soon I will be a) amazed and b) starting a petition. It really is that good. Head Chef Jonathan Keane is a genius and showcases local, seasonal food in an exciting, contemporary way: we feasted on scallops fresh from Galway Bay along with Connemara lamb (above), and every mouthful was a taste sensation.
The Beauty rooms are a recent addition to The Lodge, and the reason we were lucky enough to receive an invitation to visit. Debbie Murphy is the resident skincare specialist and what that woman doesn’t know about skincare just isn’t worth knowing. Dermalogica is her favourite brand and I enjoyed a 90 minute customised facial which tackled my dehydration as well as my congested bits, and left me looking and feeling a helluva lot better than when I’d arrived. Plus, Debbie is lovely: we spent the first few minutes chattering away like old pals about our favourite beauty bits.
As if all that isn’t reason enough to get planning your visit, there are activities galore, ranging from lake cruises and hawk walks at the Irish School of Falconry, to archery, fishing and golf. We booked an hour-long session at the neighbouring riding school for a leisurely horse-back ride through the forest, which was the perfect way to cap off an incredibly enjoyable and relaxing weekend. I would highly recommend The Lodge at Ashford Castle to anyone wanting to spend some quality time with their partner or friends and if you’re planning on making a trip, hey, do you have room for just one more?
To celebrate The Beauty Rooms at the Lodge, they have introduced a special package which includes one night with breakfast, a one-hour facial and nail file and polish with Debbie, and a three-course dinner in Wilde’s restaurant. The Beauty at The Lodge at Ashford Castle package is €225 per person, with advance booking required for treatments; Fluff and Fripperies was a guest of the hotel.