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“Perfect peace and tranquility” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ballymaloe House

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Ballymaloe House
5.0 of 5 Bed and Breakfast   |   Shanagarry, Ireland   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 5 Shanagarry B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence 2014
20 reviews 20 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Perfect peace and tranquility”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2007

Having read some of the less than complimentary reviews I just had to address the balance.

We have stayed at Ballymaloe twice a year for the past four years and a couple of times before then. It is our most favourite hotel - not because it is five star, super luxurious, but simply because, unlike any other hotel we have ever stayed in, by the time you leave you feel utterly relaxed and refreshed.

Th whole ethos of Ballymaloe is to allow people to just be - as soon as you arrive you are enveloped by a sense of peace and relaxation. Rooms and public spaces aren't super smart but they are welcoming, comfortable and relaxing. The food is delicious home cooking at it's very best using the freshest of ingredients.

I agree that you need to chose your room carefully, but when you book the staff take endless time and trouble to make sure that you get a room that is most suitable for you.

Hazel, Rory and their team couldn't do more to make you welcome and to ensure that your stay is as perfect as possible.

Our next visit is already booked and I know that as soon as we check out we will be looking at our diaries to plan another stay.

  • Liked — The fantastic relaxing atmosphere
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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262 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (52)
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English first
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2007

This isn't a stay option for everyone --- and that's why you should thank them for it, because the Toms, Dicks and Harrys that make your hotel a long, loud clatterspace are nowhere in evidence. The loudest shout you'll hear at Ballymaloe House is the excited squeal of a toddler who rounds a shrubbery and comes across --- ducklings!

Yes, it's going to make a dent in your paypacket. But it'll smoothe out several months' worth of creases in your forehead. And as the (5-course) menu explains, this isn't cheap food; it is food that has been lovingly grown, collected locally and dished up the good, slow, old-fashioned way.

Each room here has unique character, quirks and comforts both. My friend stayed in a lavendar- and lilac-themed bouquet of a bedroom (called the castle suite), so pretty she said it broke her heart to take the soap out of its little dish and disturb the 'just so' Victorian elegance. My own room, half of the family suite (yet another friend had the other half), was up a little recessed flight of steps (children would adore this one for hide-and-seek). Inside, the toile wallpaper was perfectly matched with furnishings ditto, an exquisite quilt the colour of fresh cream, a tiny but adorable little bath, and a gorgeous view over the frontage, outlined in climbing creepers of pale yellow roses. And a little fireplace to boot.

The dining rooms are a series of enchantingly decorated small to medium rooms in different country cottage colours. The food is really to die for, some of the produce grown in the kitchen gardens off to one side and the rest sourced from nearby farms. Proximity to the sea ensures gorgeous seafood, including fried fish (catch of the day at Ballycotton or kippers) for breakfast to go with the divine stoneground porridge that made converts of even the oatmeal-haters in our little group who remembered the offputting pap from schoolday mornings. Don't miss their oven-fresh scones, homemade strawberry jam, rhubarb-ginger preserves and marmalade to go with the iconic Irish brown sodabread; plus the lovely currant-speckled spotted dog (rather like the barm brack served for tea). There's just-squeezed juice, muesli made with the apples just coming into season when we stayed, more apples poached in a light, sweet geranium-flavoured syrup and a creamy homemade yoghurt. Fresh farm cream and pats of newly churned butter round off your meal.

Walk it off as you wander the extensive grounds. There's a bird sanctuary, the yards where the freerange geese and ducks and chickens and turkeys roam, pheasants and wood pigeons in the groves that just might turn up for your lunch. Little benches every few yards make a great reststop for time spent with a good book. There's a golf course and a swimming pool if you prefer a more urbane style of natural exertion. The kitchen gardens are a good place to grab a snack --- raspberry canes and pear trees bend over with the weight of fruit.

Lady of the house Myrtle Allen (now 82) made simple, traditional rustic cooking fashionable over Frenchified restaurant cooking almost singlehandedly in the 1970s, and her daughter-in-law Darina Allen is Ireland's best chef. Indeed, the latter has become something of a global phenomenon, concentrating on organic, local produce grown and cooked with care and time. Her cookery school a stone's throw away sees students from all corners of the earth, and they can't get enough of the kitchen gardening, pig-rearing and curing, and diverse cookery classes and one-day demos. At night, enjoy a sumptuous 5-course meal of soup, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert trolley that draws on their beautifully trained staff's expertise (let their resident cellar specialist guide you through the wine list or sit back with a ladylike elderflower cordial if you've got the babies along).

Then make your way to the drawing room for a music session with son of the house Rory Allen, whose jokes should help shake all that good food down nicely.

The only bits we didn't manage, because we spent a day at the Ballymaloe Cookery School (and ate our own cooking!) and got them to pack a picnic lunch to eat on the clifftop walks along Ballycotton Bay, were the shop in the House and the sitdown lunch!

I'd go back as soon as the bank balance recovers a tad.

  • Liked — The attention to detail in preserving a largely lost quality of lesiurely but enthusiastic, elegant living
  • Disliked — Personally, I could have done with a pool being a little hidden from the house --- better for privacy and solitude as well as for not disrupting the country home frontage.
  • Stayed August 2007
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2007

I'm rather surprised to see some of the poor reviews of this beautiful hotel on this site - they seem so far removed from my own experiences there that I thought I'd redress the balance by doing something I never usually do: write an internet review!!

The location is everything you'd want from a country house hotel, from its vast grounds with its own river and various animals wondering around, to the surrounding villages and coastline in the friendliest part of Ireland that I've been to. This must be one of the most tranquil places that I've stayed at.

I've stayed twice, once in the main house and, later, in a new self-catering part called 'The Castle' - which was great. There are, seemingly, plenty more areas, so it's probably best to speak to them before you book as I've found them to be very keen to make sure that you're in the area which most suits you. The first time I stayed I wasn't booked into the main house, but, on arrival decided that I'd rather be there. With absolutely no fuss, they moved me. The few different rooms I've seen have all been of a good size and decorated for a variety of tastes, and with a variety of views. Another review mentioned faded glory, and I actually think that's a compliment. It's not too pristine - it is grand, but it's also slightly 'lived in' in the best possible way and all the more welcoming for it.

The service is something I really like about this hotel. Nothing is ever too much trouble. The most striking thing is how natural everyone’s willingness to help seems to be - they all appear to have a genuine and personal interest in making your stay as enjoyable as it can be, rather than following some great edict from those above to keep checking you're happy. It's a subtle but very welcome difference.

The food was very tasty, robust, and certainly plentiful. I would guess their ingredients are all local and very fresh (it's that kind of place!) and 'Posh Irish country cooking' is perhaps the best way to describe it. 'Don't stay here too long or you'll get fat' is another way! I was barely able to move after the main course when the waitress cheerfully asked if I would like seconds!! I think I've had dinner here five times, and four of those times I've really enjoyed it. The other time it wasn't bad, just not great.

The facilities are not up to scratch if you like your hotels 6 star Dubai style, but you might find your need for all that stuff disappears when you stay there. Go there to relax and forget about the gym and television.

As you've probably guessed, I like this place! I'm from the city, and this is the perfect place to get away from it all. Maybe I'm being very biased because the last time I was there I had one of those rare 'there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be right now' moments. I'm looking forward to my next stay already, whenever that might be. I can't imagine it will be any different, I certainly hope it won't be.

  • Liked — service, location, atmosphere
  • Disliked — I have to take a plane to get there
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 19, 2007

Like many others reviewing the hotel, I have returned there having had good memories. Sadly, it is true you should never go back. Why didn't I take any notice of some of the comments I read on Tripadvisor? I thought they were probably exaggerated. I was wrong.

The sitting rooms are lovely, especially when the fire is lit.

The food was indeed wonderful, years ago. Now there are patches of good things on the nightly five course dinner, but usually that is the fish. Meat was tough or dry. Vegetables were overcooked and plonked in a little side dish, watery and unappetising. Cheese unambitious considering the wealth of local cheeses on offer in the English Market in Cork. Puddings unappealing and the fruit compote always reappearing on the breakfast buffet. Because five courses (for 70 Euros) was sometimes a bit much, we were told we need not have to have the full five. We thought that meant note would be taken and a reduction made. No. Breakfasts? Dried up bacon, overcooked eggs whether scrambled, fried, boiled or poached. Two, yes two, half pieces of toast offered. (Not warm, so a bit tough and dry.)

The bedrooms. We were lucky apparently, to be offered downstairs rooms looking straight on to the river. Yes, a lovely outlook. The rooms are tired and old fashioned, which is fine as the hotel is quite attractive in its faded glory, but the bathrooms need attention. Made the mistake of going to the loo in the night, put the light on and met several families of silver fish scurrying for cover. Eeeeuuuw. The hotel's toiletries are the first for many years I just did not want to use. Straight from the chemical factory of yesteryear. No pretence at luxury. For 310 Euros a night I could and should have had better.

After the guests turn in, the staff begin clearing up the conservatory, which is above about five of the bedrooms. Clack clack went the heels for nigh on an hour at a time, scrape of chairs, bang of doors. Of course for three nights running I forgot until it was too late to mention this, and could not report it because for three days running I had reported my phone didn't work, but only came to use it to complain each midnight, to find it had not been done. Short of getting dressed and going up in person, I felt it best to just suggest some staff training, in which they went and sat in these lower bedrooms whilst their colleagues performed the clearing up, so that they could get some teeny insight in what it means to have paid over £200 per night to have your rest disturbed.

I am sorry to be such a complainer, but for nearly £950 for two of us I might be allowed to complain about a three day holiday that was just plain not worth it.

  • Liked — view from bedroom
  • Disliked — silverfish
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
20 reviews 20 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2007

I have just read a review from guests staying at the same time as we did and could not disagree more!!! This was my fifth visit to Ballymaloe in two years, I have taken my best friend for her 50th Birthday and she could not have been happier and a party of four of us later joined by 4 Irish friends to celebrate my birthday this July could not have been more satisfied. The hotel are very informative on what rooms they will allocate for you and this is obviously based on their avaiability, they will then improve if possible. I had several conversations with them and they are very candid about the rooms themselves. We had a room with no view but it was very quiet, lovely bed and nice bathroom. Our friends had a ground floor room with French windows to the grounds.This is a proper Country House hotel so it does have associated problems which you would not get with a purpose built property but if you are after a sublime relaxing ambient feel of staying in a proper country house then this is what you get. It is the least intimidating, informal stay you will get with superb service from virtually all Irish staff.

Facilities, as such are not modern roll-out hotel style. No televisions in the room, no spa, no gym but surely these are substitutes for what is available at Ballymaloe; singing in the drawing room after dinner which is enchanting and so typically Irish but so rarely found, fabulous walks through grounds populated with hens, turkeys and pigs who all find their way into the food chain but have a good life! Croquet, golf. a heated swimming pool that was used when we were there and holistic and beauty treatments were available in-house. Dinner is a main event; it is five course and takes its time but the food quality is outstanding and I have never had a disappointing dish and perhaps contrary to the tone of this review I am a very discerning and well travelled (through necessity) individual.
What I would say is you do need to be of a mentality to enjoy Ballymaloe; it is not for the quick soundbite of a hotel to compare with the superficial luxury of the formulaic five stars. It is what it says on the tin - a proper Country House hotel, well run, a little shabby as part of its appeal, spotlessly clean, well informed staff, excellent food and a comfort blanket of a place to relax and enjoy and we cannot wait to return.

  • Liked — Ambience and atmosphere
  • Disliked — Nothing!
  • Stayed July 2006, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2007

We stayed for 2 nights and it was way overpriced for what you get. When we arrived the first night, we were given a room out in the courtyard and as it was around 8pm (dinner time) all we could hear for the next 3 hours were the clashing of dinner plates coming from the kitchen which was across the way from our bedroom window. I was disappointed as the rooms were expensive and for that kind of money I expected to stay in the main house!
I know the whole purpose for staying in a place like that is to enjoy the food and relax (as they don't have televisions) but seriously for what you pay for, it's not worth it. There's an outdoor swimming pool and with weather in ireland, I'd say it doesn't get used much. The food was nice but yet again overpriced. We've had nicer dinners in the Ballycotton area. The beef was like a normal carvery and the desserts were tasteless and as someone who has a sweet tooth this was what I was looking forward to most. They seem to be milking the image of 'Ballymaloe' and charging 4/5 star prices for something that was not worth it. There's no facilities i.e gym, spa etc so they haven't much overheads. The manor house is lovely to look at and the staff appear to be nice and friendly. But we won't be going back again to visit. There are nicer places to visit around Ireland for that kind of money and alot more to do in the hotels. This is my first ever bad review of a hotel and I'm disappointed that it's an Irish hotel I'm talking about but because of 'greed' people think they can charge what they want, whenever they want and have no-one complain about it. In saying that, you're going to have some people enjoying this sort of holiday which is fine but at those prices, it's not worth it. There are plenty of nicer hotels around the area we've stayed in and had seaviews and were cheaper and nicer food. We had an idea of how much we were going to pay before we went but I did expect better food and more things to do and to be staying inside the main house.

  • Liked — friendly staff
  • Disliked — price versus quality
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ballymaloe House

Address: Shanagarry, Ireland
Location: Ireland > Province of Munster > County Cork > Shanagarry
Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Shanagarry
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:5 star — Ballymaloe House 5*
Number of rooms: 20
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Also Known As:
Ballymaloe House Hotel Shanagarry
Ballymaloe Hotel

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