Ashford Castle estate and activities are open to the public - for a fee
Kings of Cong
Published 13/05/2016 | 12:02
One of Ireland's most exclusive hotels is welcoming day visitors for experiences it says "can be enjoyed by all".
Joe Public can't breeze freely past the regal stone gates, however.
Entrance to Ashford Castle estate costs €5 for adults and €3.50 for children, a fee that permits visitors to walk around the grounds and garden.
The fee will rise to €10 "in the coming weeks", the castle says - though this will also include a complimentary coffee in Mrs Tea's Boutique and Bakery.
Though a perception exists that the five-star is off-limits to non-residents, the castle has told Independent.ie Travel that this is not the case.
"Ashford Castle is located on 350 acres of stunning West of Ireland countryside, and the Ashford experience is something that can be enjoyed by all."
Walk-in customers are welcome at Cullen's at the Cottage, the casual dining offering set in a thatched cottage with views of the castle. Bookings are recommended, however, as they are for Afternoon Tea (from €38pp) in the castle itself.
Activities available to non-residents include spa treatments (from €25 nail treatments to the €250 signature 'Journey of Relaxation'), fishing on Lough Corrib (from €70 for one hour) and guided hawk walks with the School of Falconry (from €50pp), as well as golf (€60pp), horse riding (from €55/€40pp), zip-lining (€25/€18pp) and more.
Parking is available to visitors near Mrs. Tea's Boutique.
Since the Tollman family acquired Ashford Castle for its Red Carnation collection in 2013, millions of euro have been invested in upgrades and refurbishments.
New additions include a new spa, pool and 32-seater cinema, the replacement of all 820 windows and extensive room works - including those which hosted John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara during the filming of The Quiet Man in 1951.
Last autumn, the five-star was voted the world's best hotel by Virtuoso, one of North America's leading luxury travel networks.
Summer rooms at the hotel start from around €550 per night.