2015 Award Winners HOTEL OF THE YEAR 2015

Beech Hill House Hotel, Derry/Londonderry

Beech Hill House Hotel

Irish hotels, North and South, have taken a terrible hammering over the last few years, but as long as we have great independent hoteliers an important aspect of this country’s unique appeal will be in safe hands. We must treasure them, while we can.

Beautifully set in 42 acres of peaceful woodland, waterfalls and gardens a couple of miles south of Londonderry, the house at the heart of Patsy O’Kane's much loved hotel was built in 1729 and has retained many of its original details.

Patsy is a perfect example of the hands-on proprietor, totally committed to developing the best aspects of this interesting hotel and making the guest experience memorable. Every year brings a new round of plans and improvements and, not only is Patsy a warmly caring hostess, but this genuine hospitality is shared by her staff too, so each guest always feels personally welcome.

It’s ideal for anyone who enjoys being in restful surroundings and yet close to the city, including guests travelling with their dogs - excellence and pet-friendliness go hand in hand here, and the 6km of woodland trails might almost have been developed with dogs and their owners in mind.

Another USP, for American visitors especially, is the hotel’s little museum of the US Marine Friendship Association relating to World War II when the US Marines had their headquarters here. And then there is food.

And not just on the plate, but in the garden too. In 2013, the hotel partnered with Lady Dunleath from Ballywalter Estate to promote food heritage; the walled garden (which guests are welcome to visit) is the main focus of this project, also a 150 year old cookbook which they have inherited.

The book references the walled garden and the dishes the author could create throughout the year and the kitchen team is developing historical recipes from it. It’s an unusual project that somehow sums up the vision of this dedicated hotelier, and goes a long way towards explaining the charm of her hotel.

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