A former boarding school has been named Irish hotel of the year 2018, although it already received the showbiz royalty seal of approval when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West stayed there on their honeymoon in 2014. The five-star property, Ballyfin Demesne, is based in Laois, and it underwent an extensive nine-year restoration before opening as a luxury hotel in 2011.
Ballyfin stands on 600 acres of grounds, and has a series of formal gardens designed by Jim Reynolds. The AA noted the “warmth and welcome from all the team,” and its chief inspector described a stay at Ballyfin as akin to “being in a private home, with the atmosphere of a period Irish house with all the facilities of a five star resort.”
The AA’s inspectors personally visit every AA accredited hotel for an overnight stay. Their assessments of the standards of hospitality, service, cuisine, facilities and staff are the most exacting in the industry. Winners are selected in recognition of excellence in service and hospitality, and must also clearly demonstrate continuous improvement in the previous 12-18 months. For a hotel to be considered it must have displayed excellence over time. A hotel that wins AA Hotel of the Year can claim to be the best hotel in Ireland in its category.
“Our eagle-eyed inspectors leave no stone unturned and follow the most stringent inspection standards in the industry,” said Conor Faughnan, the AA’s director of consumer affairs.“Beyond the beauty and scenery that Ballyfin Demesne has to offer, it also boasts a friendly and highly professional staff who ensure every customer has a first class experience.”
Other award-winners were Aldridge Lodge in Duncannon, Wexford (AA Guest House Accommodation of the Year), and The Twelve hotel in Barna, Galway (AA Courtesy and Care award). The latter award “reflects an establishment in which an AA inspector would choose to stay themselves, or to bring their own families.”