Hotels in Dingle, Killarney and Sligo rated among top 25 in the world


A SMALL guest house in Dingle that has been open for less than seven years has been named the sixth best hotel in the world by tripadvisor.comafter the website sifted through millions of customer reviews.

No Irish hotel made the travel rating website’s top 25 last year, but three have made the cut for 2012: Castlewood House in Dingle is joined on the list by a hotel in Killarney and one in Strandhill that has not yet celebrated its first birthday.

Brian and Helen Heaton opened Castlewood House in 2005 and tourists appear to love it. Yesterday morning, 327 of the 342 guests who posted reviews on TripAdvisor had awarded it five stars; only three people gave it a rating of less than four stars.

“Absolutely stunning hotel, exceeded our expectations in every way. Everything about our stay here was perfect,” said one review.

So what is Castlewood’s secret?

In addition to the food, which guests rave about, the superking-sized beds dressed in Egyptian cotton and the marbled bathrooms with whirlpool baths, Helen Heaton says customer service is the key.

The couple met in the early 1990s at Ashford Castle, where they both started their catering careers, and they subsequently worked in some of the most well-known hotels in Ireland before going out on their own.

“We are a very small guest house with 12 bedrooms and three staff. We thought long and hard about building our own place and there were a lot of will-we-won’t-we conversations before we decided to go for it,” Ms Heaton said.

“What we do is full-on and seven days a week, but it is hugely rewarding and the guests we get are so nice, and I know all this sounds terribly cliched but it is the truth.”

Paul Corridan owns Loch Lein Country House in Killarney, which came in two places below Castlewood. “To be recognised like this is incredible,” he said. “All we do is give people time. We are not pretentious: we have what we have and people seem to like it.”

Mary Henry opened the Strandhill Lodge and Suites in Sligo on March 4th last year and she could scarcely believe it when she heard the hotel had made it into the top 25. “It is a great achievement and I think it we are still in shock. It all comes down to customer service. It will make a difference as the amount of bookings we get through TripAdvisor is amazing.”