Monday, July 22, 2024

‘It takes five stars to the next level’ – 20-room Irish hotel named best resort in UK and Ireland

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Ballyfin opened as a hotel in 2011 and is one of Ireland’s most expensive resorts

“This was truly the most exceptional stay of my lifetime,” one reader commented in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2024. “This takes five stars to the next level.”

Although it has just 20 rooms (and a cottage sleeping two), Ballyfin sits on 614 acres of “impeccably manicured grounds”, Travel + Leisure says, offering guests “privacy and deeply personalised service”.

Along with flagship resorts like Adare Manor and Ashford Castle, the hotel is one of Ireland’s most expensive stays. Rates on its website start from €1,210 per room on a B&B basis this summer, dropping to €810 per night in the off-peak months of November and early December.

“Ballyfin has been welcoming guests since 2011, and the recognition from Travel + Leisure readers since that date has been exceptional,” said General Manager, Peter White.

Ballyfin, Co Laois

The hotel opened in 2011 after several years of restoration, and offers guests activities including carriage rides, picnics, fishing, archery, clay pigeon shooting and butler service.

Celebrity guests are also reported to have included Amal and George Clooney.

It is followed on Travel + Leisure’s list of top UK and Irish resorts by Ashford Castle, Adare Manor and The Lodge at Ashford Castle, with just one UK resort – Gleneagles in Scotland – making the Top Five.

The World’s Best Awards are compiled based on a survey of over 186,000 readers, who share opinions on hotels, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines and more.

They saw the Oberoi Rajvilas in Jaipur, India, named the world’s best hotel, while Florence was voted Europe’s No.1 city, Singapore Airlines best international airline, and the Maldives best islands.

Sub-categories in the 2024 awards saw Dublin’s top three hotels named as The Merrion (described as exuding “Old World elegance”), The Westbury and The Shelbourne, with the capital itself described as having “new verve” and being “in the midst of reinvention”.

Cashel Palace Hotel. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Cashel Palace ranked No.12 on a list of Europe’s City Hotels – though residents of Cashel may be amused to hear they are living in a city. The list was topped by The Peninsula in Istanbul.

“We are incredibly honoured to be recognised by Travel + Leisure readers as one of their favourite hotels in Europe,” said its general manager, Adriaan Bartels.

Travel + Leisure’s annual awards, alongside Conde Nast Traveller’s Gold List and Reader Travel Awards, carry huge influence among affluent North American travellers – a key target market for resorts like Ballyfin, Ashford Castle and Adare Manor, who regularly feature in their rankings.

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