Co. Mayo’s Ashford Castle has just been ranked as the second most romantic place in the world to propose by award-winning luxury and lifestyle travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler.
Following only St. Lucia’s Ladera Hotel, the five-star castle-turned-hotel “offers endless opportunities for proposing, including lake cruises and horseback riding.
“The rooms are equally romantic, particularly the staterooms located in the oldest part of the castle dating back to the 13th century,” the 25-award winning magazine said.
“Original fireplaces, claw-foot bathtubs and sherry decanters help set the mood.”
The castle was built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family after their defeat of the native O’Connors of Connaught. The de Burgos went on to build several more castles in the province, but Ashford remained their principal stronghold.
After three centuries of ownership, the de Burgos lost the castle to English Official Sir Richard Brigham, Lord President of Connaught. It has since been passed down through various owners, and has hosted many reputable names including King George V and Queen Mary, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Oscar Wilde. Here is an old photograph of a 23-year-old Wilde on the Ashford Castle's steps.
Be sure s/he’s the one if you’re going to propose here, because a stay in Ashford Castle today isn’t cheap – midweek packages start at around $500. You can get a sense with the room titles alone, like the “Victorian Deluxe Room” and the “Victorian Lakeview Deluxe.”
“Indulge in your fantasies of swanning around a turn-of-the-century estate at this sprawling medieval castle,” the guide says, noting it would be especially perfect for lovers of "Downton Abbey."
The Mayo castle is in the middle of an expensive refurbishment as well, so you can only imagine what it’ll look like when it’s finished.
Here are the top five from their list of romantic proposal locations:
1. Ladera Hotel, Soufriere, St. Lucia
2. Ashford Castle, Ireland
3. Qualia, Hamilton Island, Australia
4. Bow Bridge, Central Park, New York City
5. Fern Grotto, Kauai, Hawaii
Ashford Castle is also one of four Irish hotels on Condé Nast Traveler’s new top 10 European Resorts.