Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ashford Castle

Another fairytale property on my bucket list. An aristocratic residence turned resort! This is the Ashford Castle in Ireland.  Located 27 miles north of Galway.  It is distinguished from a palace not by its lack of grandeur but by the fact it was originally constructed to be a fortress as well as a residence.

The castle dates back to the 1200s when its original structure was built by the Anglo Norman House of Burke. The de Burgos (who surname became Burke) lost the property some three hundred years later to England's Lord President of Connaught, Sir Richard Bingham.

The property passed to the Browne family in the 1670s.  The Brownes established the estate of Ashford in 1715 and added a French style Chateau and a hunting lodge.  In 1852; the Guinness family (yes, the brewers of the beer; still loved today), purchased the property.

 Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness; started shaping the estate into its present form by adding a Victorian wing to the residence and purchasing an additional 26,000 acres.

Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness

He also had roads constructed and planted thousands of trees.  His son, Arthur, who was the first Baron Ardilaun, made numerous additional improvements to Ashford castle.

Connaught Room

He hired architects James Franklin Fuller and George Ashlin who designed a new east wing that connected to the early 18th Century part and added battlements to the entire structure. Lord Ardilaun's nephew, Ernest inherited the estate and he in turn transferred it to the Irish Government.

In 1939 a hotel was opened by Noel Huggard.  In 1970 the castle was purchased by a young property investor John F. Mulcahy who doubled its size with a new wing and building a golf course.  He continued to operate a resort at Ashford Castle until he sold it in 1985.

After a series of owners Ashford Castle was purchased by its present owner, The Red Carnation Hotels in 2012. Major renovations, including new windows and a lead roof and repaired stonework were completed and the property reopened in April 2015.

Luxurious pool-spa added in 2015
 On its website, the hotel boasts almost a new window for every year of the castle's 800 plus year history!  For more information, visit AshfordCastle.com

The 32 plush velvet seat cinema was added in 2014

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Schlosshotel Kronberg

Have you ever had the fantasy of living in a fairytale palace?  A stay at the Schlosshotel Kronberg im Taunus, Germany can fulfill that dream, at least temporarily.  

This magnificent property is located outside of Frankfurt. However, the grounds and surrounding environs are so bucolic you will feel much further away.  

Red Salon

This magnificent property is located 20 minutes away from Frankfurt. The sole reminder of your proximity to the city occurs as you drive the winding hillside roads and an occasional break in the forest provides a stunning view of Frankfurt's skyline in the distance.   Our family had the privilege of spending 6 heady nights here in the summer of 2016. 
Bibliothek (Library)

 This is a 19th century palace, designed by the royal architect, was built by Emperor Frederick III's widow, Victoria.
 (Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa 1840-1901)
 She was the daughter of Queen Victoria of England. She named her new home Friedrichshof in honor of her late husband. Palace intrigue surrounded the building of this castle.  

Blue Salon
The new Kaiser, Wilhelm II, had different political views from his progressive parents.   He viewed his father's legacy of promoting new constitutional rights to German citizens as as harmful to the monarchy.  

Palace Reception Foyer
  He was suspicious of his mother's politics and rejected her request to retire to the Sanssouci palace in Potsdam.  Using an inheritance of her own, Empress Victoria built her retirement castle, Freidrichshof, which is the present day Schlosshotel Kronberg  boasting original furnishings, artwork and 62 rooms.

Wilhelm II, German Emperor
Read Prussian Princesses: The Sisters of Kaiser Wilhelm II before you visit to get all the details of the family drama surrounding the palace.  

Green Room

The golf has its own fascinating history.  During the occupation of Germany after World War II, the US army turned the castle into an officer's club with a 18 holes golf course and driving range. 

Golf course
Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower reportedly played the course. 
 In 1954, the castle opened it's doors as a full service hotel-spa and golf resort. 

 Our visit was in August which was a perfect time to see all the Hydrangeas in full bloom.  And they were abundant.  Not just on the property, but all over Kronberg

The property also has an exclusive "members only" golf association with private clubhouse on the premises. The golf course is opened from April to October and has a handicap of 36.

On the driving range
Not all American forces improved the property.  US Army Captain Kathleen Nash(club manager), Major David Watson and Colonel Jack Durants (The Hesse Jewel Heist) discovered a safe in a hole of the basement floor of the castle.  
Victoria balcony lounge

The outdoor lounge was the daily locale of card games between Papa and Daniel as I napped or explored the castle.

Inside they found the royal treasures the family hid before they fled the castle during the war.  The box contained loose diamonds,tiaras,rings,necklaces and other jewelry worth tens of millions.  

Enroute to the breakfast buffet
 Princess Margaret discovered the jewels were missing in early 1946 when the family went to retrieve the jewels to be used for the wedding of Princess Sophia. Eventually, they were apprehended and court martialed in 1951.  Unfortunately, the family only recovered 10 percent of what was stolen.
Main Dining Room
The beautiful main dining room is where fruhstuck(breakfast) was served every morning.  You could have your morning coffee or tea inside or out on the balcony overlooking the golf course.

Our international traveler hopelessly scouring the menu for anything with cheese and pommes frittes.  The wait staff accommodated his off the menu request.

For more information on the palace, visit Schlosshotel Kronberg.com

Monday, October 30, 2017

2017 Halloween Costume Party And Sleep Over!!

Another fun new Halloween tradition.    Like last year, Daniel invited several friends from school for a costume and sleepover party.  

 If you've ever hosted a kid's sleepover than I'm sure you're aware of the energy needed to endure such an event.  Especially, when it's around a holiday that involves lots of sugar.  

The dining room was decor was inspired by the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller " The Birds".

Daniel in the backyard setting up the movie projector the night before.   Love that he still loves being a kid yet is mature enough to help with set up.

Backyard is set up and ready for Saturday night's movie and activities. 

The special guests such as Link,Harry Potter and the Grim Reaper started to arrive after 3:30pm ready to cast spells and do battle!


 Before the first movie, the kids decorated cookie dough for the oven.


This year's movies were Hotel Transylvania and Monster House.  It was a great idea not to offer them any sugar until after the movies.

Intermission for Pizza!!!!!

After pizza came a few sweet treats which got them on their feet dancing to the movie.

After the movies, the kids headed up to Daniel's room for a few board and electronic games before ending the evening with the boy's sleepover(knocked out at 2:30am and woke up at 4am according to them).  It was a great evening.  Always love seeing Daniel so happy.  Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Travel Arrangements" and a brief Home Tour

I loved last week's dinner party flowers  so much that I could not wait to bring them home to enjoy them while they lasted.   Who wouldn't love fresh flowers in every room ALL of the time?


   Since that kind of extravagance is not realistic for us, I did the next best thing....took photos of the two beauties in a few spaces around our home.  I loved the pictures and thought this would be a good excuse to give you a brief tour! 

 Cockscombs have become one of my new favorite fall blooms.  The rich red color complimented almost every space in our house. 

Bar in living room

Too bad fresh flowers cost so much.   If my friends had not convinced me that artificial flowers are bad "Feng-shui" I would have faux arrangements everywhere!   In truth, I do have quite a few that I k put away when I'm expecting those "critical" guests.

Corner round table vignette in living room

I also buy planted flowers, mostly orchids, because their beauty and their longevity work well for our family budget.

Master Bedroom

We redecorated the master bedroom last year.  We painted the walls the same color as the living room, Cream Wave by Dunn Edwards.

We added picture frame molding on the walls as well as vintage torchiere sconces from Carlson Galleries Antiques.

I had slipcovers made in a chocolate brown velvet fabric with greek key border trim for the 2 upholstered chairs in the room.

The Secretary desk and chair were purchased at an estate sale.

All of the window drapes,bed canopy and skirt were made by Linda of Lindas Window Dressing.  Great workmanship, prices and fast delivery.



The seating was purchased from World Market in 2013.   Original cushions were just the solid white. I added black squares using 1 1/2" grosgrain ribbon trim to give them an updated look.

Instead of purchasing new chaise lounges, I repainted them black and highlighted the carved decorative details with an outdoor metallic gold paint.  I did the same with the black garden stools.  Installed sconces over the chaises for candlelight in the evenings. Finally, covered the wood fence with black and white striped outdoor drapery panels.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tour.  I'm joining the "Share Your Style" blog party at The Vintage Nest.  Please visit The Visit Nest for great style inspiration!