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Ballyfin Demesne has been named the AA’s hotel of the year 2018.

The five star hotel in Co. Laois is a former boarding school which underwent an extensive nine-year restoration before opening as a luxury hotel in 2011. It stands on 600 acres of grounds and is home to a series of formal gardens designed by Jim Reynolds. The hotel was previously voted  best hotel in the world in 2016 by readers of US travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

The B&B rate at Ballyfin starts at €960 for a double room, running to €1,710 for the best suite in the house. Most guests, however, opt for the full board package (from €1,275 for two people), which includes lunch or afternoon tea on arrival, cocktail hour, dinner in the State Dining Room or the Van Der Hagan Room, and breakfast the following morning.

Until 2015, Ballyfin was open only to residents, however reservations are now accepted for dinner for groups of up to six guests, who have variety of menu options to choose from, costing from €105 for three-courses à la carte, to €125 for an eight-course tasting menu.

Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, presenting the award to Ballyfin’s general manager Damien Bastiat in Dublin last night, said: “The story of Irish tourism over the last 10 years has been one of hard work and perseverance to get through the troubled times of the economic downturn in order to come out the other side as a thriving industry. “Ballyfin Demesne, with its welcoming staff and steep history only highlights the best of what the hospitality industry offers to visitors from at home and abroad.”

The other main award winners were Aldridge Lodge in Duncannon, Co Wexford (AA Guest House Accommodation of the Year), and The Twelve hotel in Barna, Co Galway (AA Courtesy and Care award).

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