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;

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album