Blog, Food, Ireland, Travel

A Luxurious Afternoon Tea Experience at Ashford Castle

A visit to Ireland needs to include a traditional afternoon tea experience. And what better place to enjoy afternoon tea than at a castle?! Not just any castle though, Ashford Castle, one of the worlds leading hotels (ranked 59th in Travel and Leisure World’s Best Hotels, 2017). Afternoon tea at Ashford Castle was one of the best experiences during our 7 day road trip in Ireland. Partly because Ashford Castle exceeded our expectations with their impeccable service, delicious desserts and unlimited tea. The other reason we had the best time was because we were with our lovely friends, Kallsy and Logan, from Pages of Travel. After this amazing experience, we are eager to enjoy every afternoon tea from around the world!

If afternoon tea at Ashford Castle is not on your Ireland itinerary, let us inspire you and change your mind.

photo courtesy of Pages of Travel

 

Full disclaimer –  We received a generous discount to enjoy afternoon tea at Ashford Castle. As always, our opinions are non-biased and our own. Our post may contain affiliate links. When you click on the link you will have the option to purchase a product at no extra cost to you, but we would receive a small commission. We want to thank Ashford Castle for their generosity and for everyone following and supporting us on all of our sweet adventures. 

 

Brief History of Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle has a long history dating back to 1228! From 1228 to today, the castle has seen many owners, undergone many extensions and added thousands of acres to the estate. For 87 years, the famous Guinness Family were the owners of Ashford Castle. During their time they extended the estate to 26,000 acres, built roads, developed woodlands, restored the west wing of the castle and created two large Victorian extensions. From 1852 to 1868, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness oversaw the castle until he passed the estate down to his son, Lord Ardilaun. It was during that time Lord Ardilaun created the tradition of afternoon tea at Ashford Castle – a legacy that remains today.

In 1939, Ashford was purchased by Noel Huggard and the estate became more than just a castle, it transformed into a first class hotel. Then in 1970, John Mulcahy purchased the castle hotel and did a complete restoration. He also doubled the size of Ashford by creating a golf course and the gardens.

In 2013, Ashford was purchased once more by The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and have remained ownership. Under the great hands of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, Ashford Castle underwent another restoration to bring the castle back to its former glory. The Red Carnation Hotel Collection have truly transformed this historical castle into one of the best hotels in the entire world.

 

Lord and Lady Ardilaun Afternoon Tea

As briefly stated, Ashford Castle has maintained the long established tradition of afternoon tea. In the Connaught Room, guests can even view the display of the original silver tea set. This tea set was presented to Lord and Lady Ardilaun in 1896 to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Today, Ashford Castle continues to provide guests one of the best afternoon tea experiences imaginable. As much as we would all enjoy using Lord and Lady Ardilaun’s tea set, guests are served beautiful tea sets by Waterford Crystals.

Guests are able to sit in a romantic drawing room with a warm fireplace, a crystal chandelier and views of the lovely estate. Every detail ensures that guests cherish every minute – we certainly did.

 

What To Expect at Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle

This was our first afternoon tea experience. So with that being said, we had no idea what we were doing right or wrong. Thankfully, we were in good hands at Ashford Castle. The staff helped guide us during our afternoon tea to provide us with one of the best experiences of our entire trip in Ireland.

Lord and Lady Ardilaun Traditional Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle is served daily with four different time slots – 1:30pm, 2:00pm, 3:30pm and 4:00pm. Be sure to make your reservations ahead of time by email or phone.

 

World Class Service

Guests can expect to receive the most impeccable service during their afternoon tea at Ashford Castle. Even though the afternoon tea is an elegant experience, the team at Ashford Castle does a fantastic job at making guests feel at home and comfortable.

We were taken care of by the restaurant manager, Ivan, and his team. Their meticulous work in making our afternoon tea perfect did not go unnoticed. We had a wonderful time because we were treated so well. Ivan was able to consistently provide us with the knowledge we needed to order teas based on our preferences. Christina does not prefer tea, but Ivan was able to find teas that she fell in love with. Adam even ventured out and explored new teas he never dreamed of enjoying before. All of this is thanks to Ivan.

 

Lord and Lady Ardilaun Traditional Afternoon Tea Menu Options

Guests enjoying the Lord and Lady Ardilaun Traditional Afternoon Tea at Ashford Castle will receive unlimited tea from around the world, a selection of pastries, finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones for €50.00 per person. In addition to the traditional afternoon tea menu, guests may also add champagne options.

There are two champagne options: Champagne Afternoon Tea and Champagne Tasting Afternoon Tea. The Champagne Afternoon Tea is complimented by a glass of either Lanson Pére et Fils (€19.50), Lanson Rosé (€22.50), or Lanson White Label (€22.50). If you want to try all three champagnes, we recommend ordering the Champagne Tasting Afternoon Tea for €29.00. Lastly, if you are wanting to enjoy more than a glass or tasting, then you are more than welcome to purchase one of the bottles of champagne. The addition of champagne will surely enhance your luxury afternoon tea experience.

Afternoon tea at Ashford Castle is not just for adults, children are also allowed to partake in the experience. Some adults may even steal a bite or two from the Junior’s special menu because they receive Banana & Milk Chocolate Lollypops and Vanilla Milkshakes! Afternoon tea for junior guests is €19.50 per person.

So, whether you are enjoying afternoon tea at Ashford Castle with your family, loved ones or friends, it is the perfect Irish experience for everyone.

 

Unlimited Tea From Around the World

During your afternoon tea at Ashford Castle, guests are able to try an unlimited teas from around the world. This was truly an unique experience for all of us. Silver kettles kept coming to our table and tea kept flowing inside our cute tea cups. If we did not enjoy a specific tea we ordered, we were able to simply pick another one.

The teas come from China, Japan, India, Rwanda, South Africa and Morocco. They varied from black tea, flavored black tea, green tea, flavored green tea, white tea, rooibos tea, smoked tea, chai tea, herbal and fruit infusions and decaffeinated tea. The options are almost endless at Ashford Castle.

A few of our favorite teas that we all enjoyed were Magic Africa, Sport Cup, Pure Camomile and Irish Whiskey Cream. What is an afternoon tea in Ireland without some Irish whiskey in it, right? This was a table favorite and we highly recommend you try this one. It is a malty Assam tea with a cocoa aroma served with whiskey cream on the side. The Assam tea is actually produced in Jameson whiskey barrels to enhance the flavors. The whiskey cream can be added to the tea based on the guests preference. For something sweet and fruity, try the Sport Cup. The tea has a profound flavor of sweetness and tangy berries from the fruit infusion.

 

Delicious Desserts

Desserts for afternoon tea at Ashford Castle are prepared by Pastry Chef Paula Stakelum. Chef Paula does an excellent job in providing guests an array of exquisite desserts. They range from fruity, custard, acidic and of course (Valrhona) chocolate. When enjoying your plate of desserts we recommend starting with the lighter flavors and working your way to the richer desserts.

 

Lemon Tart

A classic lemon tart of lemon curd, toasted meringue and garnished with gold leaf. The lemon tart was not overly acidic. The lightness and creaminess of the meringue helped balance the sweetness and tartness of the dessert.

 

Blood Orange and Opalys Bavarois

A beautiful blood orange and Valrhona Opalys white chocolate bavarois sandwiched between butter cookies. The dessert was garnished with a Ashford Castle white chocolate decoration. The blood orange-white chocolate was subtle in flavor from the rest of the desserts. The blood orange had faint flavore, while the creamy Opalys white chocolate was more profound.

 

Vanilla Scented – Granny Smith Apple Éclair

A vanilla scented eclair filled with a soft Granny Smith Apple mousseline. The eclair was garnished with Valrhona Caramelia chocolate cremeux and a Ashford Castle white chocolate decoration. We love a great combination of caramel and apples and this dessert was no exception. It was beautifully executed as we could taste both the Granny Smith Apple and Caramelia chocolate.

 

Champagne Rhubarb Cream

A three layered dessert of rhubarb, champagne and cream in a glass garnished with a peanut tuile. This was our favorite dessert because every bite produced a new flavor. The crunchy peanut tuile added a fantastic nutty contrast of texture to the luscious dessert.

 

Chocolate Torte with Dark Chocolate Mousse

A simple chocolate torte with a sphere of dark chocolate mousse and the perfect golden chocolate leaf on top. The chocolate torte was dense, while the dark chocolate mousse brought a lightness to the dessert. This is any chocolate lovers dream and the richest of all the desserts – definitely needs to be enjoyed last.

 

Finger-licious Sanwiches

In addition to sweet desserts, guests also receive a plate of finger-liscious sandwiches. The best part, you can ask for more of your favorite sandwiches! We really appreciated Ashford Castle’s use of ingredients. They source only the freshest and most sustainable produce from local farmers.

 

Free Range Chicken & Avocado

This was by far the table favorite. We all loved this sandwich so much we asked for an extra plate of just these. This was not only delicious, but a healthy version of a chicken salad sandwich. Essentially the avocado replaced the mayonnaise. Around the sandwich were toasted almond slices which added a nice nutty and contrast texture.

Irish Waygu Beef with Pommery Mustard & Cucumber

Nobody does beef better than the Irish. This sandwich had malt sourdough bread with Irish Waygu, whole grain mustard and cucumber. A hearty and elevated cucumber sandwich for an afternoon tea.

Free Range Egg & Chive

A classic afternoon tea sandwich – egg and chive on sour dough bread. This delicate sandwich was very light and creamy.

Irish Lobster and Galway Bay Prawn

Another great sandwich utilizing Ireland local produce. The Irish lobster and Galway Bay Prawns were sandwiched between a soft brioche bun. We could taste the freshness of the lobster and prawns in this delicious sandwich.

 

Freshly Baked House-Made Scones

Towards the end of our dining experience at our afternoon tea, Ivan brought us a basket of hot scones fresh out of the oven. We had three different scones – plain, cheese and fruit. Accompanying the scones were a lemon curd, clotted cream and rhubarb and strawberry jam. The scones were soft and delicious on their own, but the condiments added more flavor and creamy texture to the scones.

 

Afternoon tea attire

To stay traditional, the servers wear formal uniforms – white button down shirt, black vest and tie with a red carnation pinned to their vest. The pin represents Ashford Castle as a prestigious Red Carnation Hotel. With that being said, guests are highly recommended to dress appropriately.

The recommended dress attire for afternoon tea is smart casual. Men should wear trousers, nice slacks or suit pants, not blue jeans. A jacket and tie is not required. Men can wear a button down or collared shirt. For the women, this is the perfect time to get dressed up! Find a cute afternoon tea dress. If you find that your dress shows too much skin at the top, wear a simple cardigan.

 

Exploring Ashford Castle’s Grounds

Driving to the entrance of Ashford Castle alone is amazing. Their 26,000 acre estate is absolutely breathtaking. Just take a look!

 

Everyone has seen how beautiful Ashford Castle is and a lot of people want to see it in person during their trip to Ireland. However, one does not simply walk into Ashford Castle, you must be a guest. To be a guest you can be staying at the castle hotel, or have dining reservations at one of their outlets such as, afternoon tea.

When you finish your afternoon tea, you must go outside and enjoy the castle’s grounds. You get the iconic and breathtaking view of the castle. You can also walk to the Victorian Corrib Lake and the Tollman Gardens. There are even some ruins near the lake that we found to be the perfect photo op!

photo courtesy of Pages of Travel

 

Overall

If we had to do our Ireland trip all over again, we would book at least one night at Ashford Castle. There is so much to see and enjoy on the castle’s estate. They have a billiard room, cigar lounge, a dungeon, wine cellar tasting rooms, a spa, their own cinema theatre and more. Guests can also enjoy outdoor activities such as, falconry, golf, tennis, fishing, clay shooting, archery and more.

Ashford Castle simply blew us away with their hospitality and property. We cannot say enough amazing things about our experience. So, we urge you to enjoy afternoon tea at Ashford Castle or better yet, stay for at least one night.

 

Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle Estate
Cong, Co. Mayo, F31 CA48, Ireland
+353 94 954 6003
[email protected]
https://www.ashfordcastle.com/

 

Christina + Adam

 

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