These Castle Hotels are Better Than Binge-Watching 'Game of Thrones'

Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland
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Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland

Turrets, a moat, and $75 million in renovations give this 13th-century Anglo Norman castle in western Ireland equal parts historic charm and modern-day comfort. Once owned by the Guinness family, its guest book includes King George V, Oscar Wilde, Ted Kennedy, and Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Princess Grace — and was also featured in the John Wayne film The Quiet Man.

On the estate’s 350 acres of ancient woodlands, guests have access to clay shooting, horseback riding, kayaking, and fishing — brown trout, salmon, and pike are abundant — as well as boat trips on the Lough Corrib. Pro tip: Ashford is home to the oldest falconry school in Ireland, so take a “hawk walk” while birds of prey gobble raw chicken from your protective glove.

For food, there's fine dining, but if you're really going for it, opt for the pairings dinner, which can be organized in the secret passageway-turned-wine cellar.