I had such a wonderful day yesterday. Back in February Lucy and Laurence got me a voucher for Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo – it was one of the things on my bucket list. I finally got to visit yesterday.
Ashford Castle is a stunning 5 star resort in the village of Cong, Co. Mayo – more about Cong in another blog. I absolutely loved the castle – and the staff. Everyone was so friendly especially Thomas, who didn’t blink an eyelid and I pootled into the car park in Gilbert the 13-year-old Getz with his peeling paint, and parked amongst the fancy cars ; Jags, Rolls Royce’s etc.
It was starting to rain when I arrived so Thomas handed me an umbrella so I could look around the gardens. I also noticed Wellington boots and rain coats for the guests to use – another nice touch.
In the grounds there is an equestrian centre and a falconry centre. These are just a couple of things of note. As I was walking around the gardens there were a couple taking a ‘hawk walk’. The hawks were flying to and from the couple – what an experience.
The gardens are just beautiful, the castle is located on the shores of Lough Corrib, breathtaking. Inside the castle itself there are chandeliers, a library, a billiards room and even a gift shop. I also heard that every morning the resident Irish Wolfhounds come over to say hello to hotel guests.
Now onto the Afternoon Tea – what can I say? It was just wonderful, not just an Afternoon Tea, a whole experience. It was held in The Connaught Room, which overlooks the garden and lake. There was classical music playing and it was so relaxing just looking out at the view.
To begin with I was given Rhubarb lemonade compliments of the pastry chef. The Afternoon Tea is a set menu but the staff do check for any allergies. You can choose your tea (or coffee though) and champagne is also offered. I chose a gorgeous tea, Snow White’s Dream, which was marzipan, coconut and cinnamon flavoured.
The sandwiches were chicken with avocado and mayonnaise covered in roast almond, Connemara smoked salmon with lime jam and cream cheese, egg and cress, cheese and tomato.
The bite sized pastries included a dark chocolate torte and lemon cupcake. I noticed the couples were also given a plate including an eclair and cheesecake.
You also get scones – cheese, plain and fruit. These are warmed in the oven so take about five or ten minutes to come out. They are served with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. My waiter suggested I try the cheese scone with the lemon curd – it shouldn’t have worked but it did. I have to say the cheese scone is the nicest one I’ve ever had!
The waitress noticed me struggling to eat everything and offered to box up the scones so I could bring them home – another nice touch. As I was leaving I was also given a little box containing chocolate pieces printed with Ashford Castle.
There was a bit of confusion when I was handed the bill, I had booked via email and had given my voucher number. So I had to scroll through my emails on my phone to find the details again. All in all though this was such a special way to spend an afternoon, so delightful and enjoyable. Thanks so much to Lucy and Laurence for such a wonderful present. They’ve had their own hotel story this weekend – sadly nothing like mine – you can read about it here.