Hotel Of The Week: Ballymaloe House, County Cork, Ireland - Europe - Travel - The Independent

Hotel Of The Week: Ballymaloe House, County Cork, Ireland

It's Ireland's original foodie hotel. You don't come here to be impressed by fancy toiletries. You come here to eat and to experience the very best in good old-fashioned Irish hospitality. Welcome to Ballymaloe House

County Cork could arguably claim to be the gastro heart of Ireland. Drive down virtually any tiny country lane and you'll find evidence of a burgeoning culture for artisanal food producers - a farm churning out unique handmade goat's cheese, or a blink-and-you-miss-it village that will be home to a gourmet restaurant.

At the epicentre of this foodie activity is the handsome Ballymaloe House, set in 400 acres of rolling green pastures in picturesque East Cork. Myrtle Allen is widely attributed with kick-starting the organic food movement in Ireland when she opened her restaurant, the Yeats Room, at Ballymaloe in 1964. A self-taught cook and farmer's wife, Allen passionately believed that locally sourced ingredients were of prime importance - something Ballymaloe has stayed true to ever since.

Three years later, she opened the house to paying guests and also managed to find the time to establish a cookery school. This is now run by her daughter- in-law Darina, Ireland's Delia Smith and writer of numerous cookbooks. Suffice to say, Ballymaloe now enjoys the kind of status that anyone who has ever dreamed of opening a country house hotel would long to emulate.

The comfort factor

Classic country-house style: squishy sofas, roaring open fires, iron bedsteads, old-fashioned Irish hospitality. The are 34 rooms - 23 in the main house, which dates from the 1600s, and 11 in the courtyard, including a 16th-century gatekeeper's house.

The bathroom

No surprises here - the usual bath and shower and unremarkable toiletries. But you're not here for that, you're here to eat.

The food and drink

Eating and drinking is the main attraction at Ballymaloe. Almost all the ingredients are delivered straight to the kitchen's doorstep from the surrounding area: fish are plucked from the sea five miles away, meat and poultry reared at organic farms and vegetables grown in the gardens. Biscuits and bread are made in the bakery. Menus change with the seasons and availability of produce. But expect the likes of bruschetta with roast peppers and Ardsallagh goat's cheese, and free-range leg of pork served with herbs, garlic, Bramley apple sauce and aubergines. Dinner on Fridays start with fresh shellfish from Kenmare Bay and a truly superior buffet is served on Sunday nights. Myrtle no longer mans the pots and pans, but her friendly presence is still felt.

The people

You'd be a grump to be irked by the general good-life wholesomeness of the place. A house-party atmosphere prevails, but it's big enough not to make you feel like you need to join in if you don't want to. There's a varying mix of guests - families celebrating special occasions, tourists and weekenders. Ballymaloe attracts more than its fair share of high-fliers.

The area

Explore East Cork: the immediate area has plenty to keep weekenders busy. One of Ireland's most celebrated potters, Stephen Pearce, has his workshop nearby. Or there's the pretty harbour of Ballycotton for bracing coastal walks. Cork City, with its foodie-friendly English Market, is 20 miles away. Alternatively, you can sign up for a short course at the Ballymaloe cookery school two miles away.

The access

Children are welcome. There's even a children's tea with homemade organic burgers. There are facilities for people with disabilities.

The damage

Double rooms start from €200 (£143) per room per night, based on two sharing, including breakfast, or €250 (£178) for a superior double. A five-course dinner costs €60 (£43) per person without wine.

The address

Shanagarry, Co Cork, Ireland (00 353 21 465 2531; www.ballymaloe.ie).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week