Tuesday 29 September 2015


Looking at the number plates of the cars outside Rosleague Manor Hotel, I’ve a secret window into Ireland’s economic recovery. In the past there used to be only spanky new rental cars, Beemers and Mercs parked here. Now ‘06’ Dublin plates sit attached to Toyotas and Fords.

No surprise that fortune has hit Ireland’s capital city quicker than Connemara, but during the 16 years the Snapper and I have been visiting Rosleague, I’ve taken a perverse pride in owning the oldest car in the place.

I still do, but it’s good that more people can afford to come here. 

We don’t live under any such delusion. We know we can’t afford it, yet that never stops us. To be fair, the rates are very reasonable given what you receive in return, but we never let tiny details like fiscal responsibility get in the way of our time away together.

If we did, we’d never leave the house.

Instead we glean from a night at Rosleague as much rest, recuperation and guilt-free self-indulgent consumption as we can.

This year we’ve only managed one night in the Spring and this September night, when heavy rain is falling on the pink Georgian mansion, as if Noah was out collecting wood.

The mountains of Connemara have dissolved into cloud, and despite the ferocity of the downpour the midges are enjoying their own Electric Picnic on my neck, so I venture inside, knowing that all will be well.

That’s what you want from a hotel. Whether staying for pleasure or business, you want a sanctuary; a place where you feel cared for and about, where regulars are treated as old friends.

Settling my voluminous frame into a wicker chair in the conservatory bar, I sip my whiskey and become hypnotised by the rain, cascading in waves down the glass roof.

My mind drifts off to the recent trip the Snapper and I made to London for my niece’s wedding.

During precious moments when we step off our daily treadmill and look life - and each other - in the eye, the Snapper and I dream of being made to feel a little special. 

Living far from our families in England, trips away together are rare. This one offered the chance to dance and celebrate a marriage, so I booked us a suite at the Grim’s Dyke Hotel, where the Snapper and I tied the knot.

A beautiful Victorian pile, Grim’s Dyke was home to W.S. Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. The house is grand and stately, its gardens stunning and elegant. Given that my family has had a relationship with the hotel for decades, you might think we’d love the place, but there’s the rub.

The Grim’s Dyke offers so much, yet consistently fails to deliver. There’s always something wrong. When my parents held their Golden Wedding there, the room was not set up on time. While planning our own wedding there, we found it hard to get anybody to answer the phone.

Now affiliated to Best Western, the Grim’s Dyke Hotel represents the only Love/Hate relationship in my life. Around 5 times a year I stay in one of their Lodge rooms, whenever I visit my mum. 

Costing no more than the Premier Inn, they feel infinitely nicer, so I was looking forward to our suite.

At check-in we were told we’d booked a Lodge room, but no matter, the suite was still available.


To reach the suite we had to go through the Music Room, where our own wedding ceremony took place years ago. Noticing a table laid there, I nipped back to reception. We’d need access to our room around noon the following day, but didn’t want to interrupt a wedding. Was that going to be okay?

“Fine!” she said, “No problem at all.”

Later that night we saw that several tables and chairs had been laid out in the Music Room. Back to reception. Was it still okay?

“Oh fine!” she said, “No problem at all.”

The next morning, after ordering 2 room service breakfasts and receiving only one, I dried myself on bathroom towels smeared with old dry dirt. With trust running low, we decided to check at reception a third time.

Would we be able to get into our suite in a couple of hours? It looked like there was a function in the Music Room.

“Yes, you will!” she said, “Absolutely no problem at all.”

Two hours later we were back at the hotel to change for my niece’s wedding. I’d never worn the black tie caboodle before, while the Snapper was looking forward to dressing up and looking fabulous.

The Music Room was full of people.

The Snapper asked a member of staff if we could get to our room, at which point the Hotel Manager suddenly stepped in and coldly instructed us:

“No! You cannot go through the Music Room. You’ll have to use the fire escape.”

There’s a reason it’s called the hospitality industry, yet some in the business fail to understand the word.

So later, dressed up dandy and frilly in our finery, we stepped out of a wall and climbed down a mossy metal spiral fire escape, feeling little better than muck.

Later I discovered we should have been informed about the fire escape when we first booked the suite.

Our everyday life is far from luxury, so those golden brief moments when we visit it can become either blissfully romantic or miserable and dispiriting, representing the difference between these two hotels.

Tonight we relax in the friendly excellence of Rosleague Manor, where everything is wonderful in a gentle way: neither swish nor ostentatious, simply top notch hospitality with a welcoming smile.

Mind you, there has been one noticeable change here. The Snapper and I used to share Rosleague with only a smattering of guests. 

Now in September the place is abuzz with happy customers, testimony to the success for which local man Mark Foyle and his excellent crew have worked so hard.

©Charlie Adley

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