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You can do some pretty fabulous things with Capital One miles.
Actually, you can do pretty much ANYTHING with them as long as it’s travel related. For example, you can reserve:
- Hotels (including boutique and independent hotel, and Airbnb)
- Ground transportation, like car rentals, bus tickets, rail lines, Lyft, and Uber
- Online travel agencies and 3rd-party booking sites (like Orbitz)
- Cruise lines
- Hotel meals (when charged to your hotel room, including Disney hotels)
- U-Haul storage units
And the welcome bonus you can earn with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is worth $500 in free travel (after spending $3,000 in the first three months).
I used ~40,000 miles to offset the cost of a stay at Ashford Castle, located just north of Galway, Ireland. I’ll give you a quick review!
Use Your Capital One Miles to Stay at Amazing Hotels That Don’t Have a Points Program
A couple years ago, I and a few friends traveled to Dublin for the better part of a month.
We spent most of our time near Dublin, though we managed to wander a bit, down to the Dingle Peninsula (STUNNING scenery), and over to the Cliffs of Moher.
On our way home, we had a drive through Galway, and up to the village of Cong. This is the location of Ashford Castle, the hands-down best hotel experience I’ve ever had.
Ashford Castle is OLD. And I mean that in a good way.
The original castle was built nearly 800 years ago. And while the structure has been expanded and renovated, nothing has been done that would detract from the charm.
The floors are a bit creaky in areas, the wood looks well lived-in, there are opulent Georgian crystal chandeliers, there are long, magical corridors.
Even though the castle is crazy old, the experience is plenty modern. I paid for a stateroom and was upgraded to a proper suite. And while I didn’t take any pictures of the room (I KNOW), I can tell you it was 2 stories, complete with heated bathroom floors, secret doors hidden in the walls, a decanter of sherry, and unbeatable views of the grounds.
We received drinks when we arrived, and walked around the suite with Christian, the desk agent who checked us in. The room tour took a good 5 minutes (that’s a long time).
There are a few restaurants inside the castle, the most popular being George V (extremely expensive), and The Dungeon. The latter is more of a novelty for kids, with coats of armor, medieval flags, and hanging shields. It was still pretty cool, and the food tasted great.
I’ve since never had a hotel service experience that came anywhere near Ashford Castle.
Example 1: All throughout the stay, staff would refer to me as Mr. Hostetler. That’s not a huge detail, but the amazing part was that everyone would greet me wherever I went. Staff that I’m sure I’d never seen before would say “hello, Mr. Hostetler.” That blew my mind, and I still don’t completely understand how they managed it.
Example 2: During conversation with Christian, I happened to mention that the airline had lost my checked bag. He asked me for some details, and said he’d try to track my bag down for me. After several hours, he called the room to tell me he’s been on the phone with the airline, and doing his best. I could not care less if he found my bag, that was the most amazing thing any hotel employee has done for me.
Example 3: One of my friends brought her son along for the trip. The staff were CONSTANTLY showering him with gifts and treats. They brought cookies and milk to the room. They gave him a couple plastic swords to play with.
AND LISTEN TO THIS: They brought a cartoon comic book to the room for him. AND HE WAS THE PROTAGONIST. His name was littered throughout the book. And the cartoon kid sort of even looked like him.
I’m not hopeful that I’ll have another hotel experience like that. If you know of a hotel with equally outrageous hotel service, please comment and let me know!! I’d love to try it out.
Nothing like it, seriously. If you’ve seen the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice, that’s what this place embodies.
MASSIVE ancient trees, paths that never end, stone benches standing guard every 30 yards. It’s a struggle to decide if you should spend your time enjoying the inside of the castle or exploring its infinite grounds.
There are novel features like large gardens and beautiful tunnels of foliage. Not sure if this served any kind of agricultural purpose or if it was just pretty.
Walking farther away from the castle is the equestrian section. A big barn with a bunch of gorgeous horses just hanging around.
The castle itself is obviously the crown jewel of the property.
The lawn behind the castle always appeared immaculate, like a golf course fairway. And at night the castle glowed from strategically placed lights.
The various walls and structures around the castle felt very medieval.
And in random areas you’ll find mysterious tunnels of stone. I think they led to Ashford Castle cottages, but I’m not really sure.
The closer you get to the perimeter of the grounds, the more you’ll be pulled back into modern reality.
Over here is what I’m assuming is the maintenance shed.
There are AMAZING activities at Ashford Castle, such as:
- Private canoe ride
We opted for falconry. I’d say it was the highlight of the entire stay. We were able to mess around with a gigantic owl, and we had a walking experience around the property with a Harris’s hawk. We were all absolutely over the moon with that thing. And the tour guide was absolutely delightful.
At the end of the trip, we decided to have a carriage ride through the woods. It was very quaint, and allowed us to see parts of the hotel property we would never have reached by foot.
At the half-way point, before the carriage turns around and makes its way home, we stopped at an overlook of Lough Corrib. The view was fantastic.
I paid ~$300 for a ~$700 room at Ashford Castle, thanks to miles & points.
Spending so many points on a single night sounds utterly wasteful. But it was the absolute best hotel experience I’ve ever had, and I HAVE to go back.
Ashford Castle doesn’t have a hotel loyalty program, so you can’t redeem hotel points to stay there. But you CAN redeem Capital One miles for a huge discount at hotels like this. The Capital One Venture comes with a sign-up bonus worth $500 in free travel.
I’d love to hear about your favorite hotel stay EVER! Let me know in the comments.