Irish B&Bs among world’s finest

A converted coach house in Northern Ireland has been rated the second-best bed and breakfast in the world after receiving top online ratings from guests.

A B&B in Sligo has also made it into the top 10 worldwide.

Shola Coach House in Portrush, Co Antrim, was chosen in the 2015 Travellers’ Choice Awards, which honour the most outstanding hotels and guesthouses around the world.

Down Yonder, a guesthouse in the Sligo village of Rosses Point, came in 10th position.

“We didn’t know anything about it,” said an excited Eavan O’Hara, who is on a family holiday in California. She has been running the B&B with her husband Ronnie for the past three years. “We are both absolutely thrilled. It’s fantastic news.”

Set on 22 acres of rugged land, it overlooks Benbulben as well as the ninth hole of Sligo Golf Course. The O’Haras have a reputation for friendliness and attention to detail, as the TripAdvisor reviews show.

“We are both very sociable and love having people stay in our home,” said Eavan.

“We are over the moon.”

Castlewood House in Co Kerry was judged the best bargain hotel in Ireland. The 12-room boutique hotel in Dingle won the top worldwide award last year.

A former workhouse, Millgate Bed & Breakfast in Masham, North Yorkshire, was judged the world’s top B&B while Lawton Court Hotel, in Llandudno in north Wales, was named the world’s best bargain hotel.

The 2015 awards are based on millions of reviews left by holidaymakers on the travel website TripAdvisor over the past year.

The coach house in Portrush is owned by Sharon and David Schindler who started the business two years ago after deciding to move home from New Zealand.

“We are overwhelmed,” said Sharon.

“It’s all down to our guests. We opened on St Patrick’s Day in 2013 so it must also be the luck of the Irish.”

She and her husband opened Shola Coach House after making a snap decision on a holiday home from New Zealand where they had been living for 12 years.

While Sharon and David were novices in the B&B business, she had experience of the travel and tourism industry, mostly in marketing.

“When we lived in New Zealand lots of friends and family would come to visit so, although we had no commercial experience, it sometimes felt like we were already running a B&B,” said Sharon.

David is a greenkeeper and was particularly busy yesterday.

“A tree came down in the windy weather,” said Sharon. “That’s keeping him busy chopping it down and, of course, we will have plenty of firewood.”

While this time of year is generally quiet, bookings have been increasing since the awards were announced.

“They are coming in thick and fast this morning. I can hardly keep up,” said Sharon. “We were probably chosen because we make sure that every guest gets personal attention from the first point of contact to even when they leave. Our guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends.”

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