Just returned from a 10-day road trip across Ireland with my mom. We considered staying overnight at Ashford Castle, but it was pricey and many of the reviews were less than stellar. The grounds are supposed to be stunning though, so we opted for a happy middle ground: afternoon tea in the castle drawing room.
Reservations were a breeze to make (we did them the morning of via telephone), and the drive out was pleasant. The grounds are gorgeously manicured; the interiors of the castle a little less so. Much of it looks old and dated, and the carpeting/seating in the drawing room is quite shabby. But ignore the dated/dowdiness of the interior and high tea itself is really fun. The food was solid and the atmosphere not nearly as snooty or fussy as one might expect. Taking tea here gives you a chance to see Ashford's interior and explore its grounds, without the cost of an overnight room. We're glad we did it.
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