Ireland’s most storied country resort was the comeback of the year, thanks to a $75 million renovation by its deep-pocketed new owners, the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. The French designer Philippe Bonino led a true transformation of the estate, preserving centuries-old woodwork, marble, and antiques and customizing every inch of new fabric, silk, and fringe. The result is a stately retreat that we imagine looks much as it did in the 16th century, when Richard Bingham, Lord President of Connaught, made Ashford Castle his noble residence.
Located on the edge of County Mayo’s Lough Corrib, the historic Ashford Castle—part of which dates to 1228—reopened in April 2015 following a 2-year renovation.
Though modernized, each of the 82 rooms and suites remains steeped in history, adorned with 19th-century art and antiques, silk Rubelli curtains, and original gothic-style window frames.
Renovations to the east wing added a wine cellar, a rooftop cigar terrace, a billiard room, and a 32-seat cinema. A new spa located within a glass conservatory overlooks Lough Corrib.
Ashford Castle, ashfordcastle.com ($280–$3,385)