The longest AA appointed property in Ireland has now been listed with the AA for a wonderful 85 years, Hunter’s Hotel, Rathnew, Co Wicklow joined the AA Recognition scheme in 1925.
Ireland’s oldest coaching inns, Hunter’s Hotel is full of character and atmosphere, which hints at a bygone era in Ireland’s colourful past. Built in 1720 and in operation by the same family since 1820, the current owner is Mrs Maureen Gelletlie. Now in her 90’s, she still plays a part in running the hotel, and together with her sons Richard and Tom has some interesting recollections of her time listed with the AA and her experience of AA inspectors over the years.
“Hunter’s is truly unique and a there is truly nowhere else like it left in Ireland” says Conor Faughnan, AA Ireland. “It is well worth a visit to experience a bygone era of Irish Hospitality and to sample AA award winning cuisine. As the AA celebrates its centenary in Ireland this year we are very proud to have a long association with Hunter’s Hotel and its owners”
On arrival to the hotel through an archway into a cobbled yard, you can immediately imagines how the coaches were glad to rest here, back when it was built in mid 1700s. Quaint with faded elegance, chintzy loose covered furniture portrays old fashioned comfort in the drawing room, the smoke room bar and garden room. There is atmospheric homely feel, with open fires working away with wood crackling just keeping the rooms cosy.
Hunter’s is set in 2 acres of award winning gardens on the banks of the river Vartry in Co. Wicklow, known as the Garden of Ireland. The garden is wonderfully natural and is a blaze of colour in all seasons. Boasting species of rhododendrons, magnolias, abutilons but to mention a few. The River Vartry flows at the end of the garden which adds to the tranquil atmosphere, with the birds singing and chirping. A large walled in kitchen garden is immaculately kept in neat rows to provide ample fruit, vegetables and herbs in season for the award winning restaurant, which has a reputation for carefully prepared dishes.
The restaurant has a good reputation for carefully prepared dishes which make the best use of high quality local produce, including fruit and vegetables from the hotel’s own garden’.
Hotel Services Centenary:
The AA is Ireland’s longest established and leading Hotels inspection body. AA Hotel Services had its beginnings, when it was discovered that motorists were having difficulty finding reasonable meals and accommodation while on the road. The AA therefore introduced a new scheme to include “leading hotels” in the AA Members Handbook; and to indicate these appointed hotels by a newly designed sign. This continued until 1912, when it was felt that a more critical approach was necessary to show the types of hotel listed. The star rating system that is now so familiar today was introduced at this time, when the then UK Secretary Stenson Cooke adopted the method of using stars to classify brandy and applied it instead to hotels, with the middle-ranking three star classification used as the standard. Hotel inspectors were recruited to assess the hotels in the classification scheme.
1955 saw the introduction of the AA Rosette, awarded to those AA inspected restaurants that demonstrate culinary mastery and excellence; while in 1967 the first AA Guide to AA Hotels and Restaurants was published, providing detailed descriptions of each establishment. In 1971, the first edition of the AA Budget Guide, eventually to evolve into the AA B&B Guide, was published, providing details of AA-appointed farmhouses, guest houses and inns; and in 1972, the first AA-inspected camping and caravanning sites appeared. Red stars, awarded to those establishments that are rated as being the best in their category, were introduced in 1974.
The 1990s saw further growth and development for AA Hotel Services. The annual AA Hospitality Awards ceremonies were introduced to recognise the achievement of high performing establishments and individuals within the recognition scheme; a bespoke consultancy service was launched for clients requiring special reports; the AA’s website went live with details and listings of all inspected establishments.
Now, in 2010, AA Hotel Services inspects and recommends over 8,000 establishments in Ireland and the UK and continues to provide quality and service throughout the hospitality industry.
AA welcomes feedback about visits to any AA approved properties. AA Hotel Services are looking for Hotels, Guest Houses, B&Bs and Self Catering Accommodation to join the AA recognition scheme. If you have stayed in exceptional Irish accommodation recently, please email recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.