Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Recess, Connemara, Co Galway
A winter visit to our Hotel of the Year confirmed all of our previous good feelings about this wonderful place, and set the benchmark against which the season’s visits were judged – in fact, surprisingly, all of the hotels we stayed in on our first chilly trip of the year (to the blustery West of Ireland) compared very favourably with later season experiences throughout the country.
It was the end of January and, ominously perhaps, the last night before the hotel’s annual closure. But – in sharp contrast to comparable end of season experiences in recent weeks - not for one moment was there the slightest sense of an hotel in wind-down mode.
The fires burned just as brightly as usual, furniture gleamed, fresh flowers rose perkily from their vases, rooms were warm and welcoming, dinner was as interesting, beautifully cooked and leisurely as ever, breakfast was the usual sumptuous feast of all the good things that a person might need to set them up for several days – and the friendly staff chatted away as if the last thing on their minds was the 4-week holiday that would begin when we’d all checked out.
is a wonderful place; the perfect Irish country hotel it is a cosy and characterful haven set against a ruggedly handsome landscape. It’s the real Ireland that we’re all hoping for when we go for a break - and it reminded me of the famous words of the great Hilary Rubinstein (founding editor of the Good Hotel Guide): ‘A good hotel is where the guest comes first’. Enough said.