The Hotel With The Best Hospitable Atmosphere that delighted us is Ballymaloe House in County Cork, Ireland. Most of the properties listed in Hilary Finlay’s Blue Book Of Ireland are enchanting, but this is exceptional. Built around a 15th century Norman castle, this evocative hostelry began taking in paying guests in 1967. The 400-acre property is lovely, the surrounding Shanagarry countryside is delightful, and the cooking here is unbearably delicious. There is an excellent wine-cellar, and spell-binding Irish music to boot. But what captures your heart is the warmth, affection and honest goodness of Mrs Darina Allen, the matriarch of the elegant mansion.
Together with her daughter, the Allens are well-known TV Chefs and authors of successful cook-books. At Ballymaloe House, though, Darina is simply a proud home-owner who will welcome you with quintessential Irish hospitality, laughter and kindness. This same happiness and congenial fellowship permeates every activity and service, making a stay at Ballymaloe House a genuinely heart-warming experience. When we first visited Ballymaloe House several years ago, the weather was cold, bleak and foggy. It was a happy contrast to be enveloped by Darina's warm and genuine hospitality - something we recommend for any traveller in that part of Ireland.