Friday 24 May 2024

Staying at a good hotel feels like visiting a friend!

It will come as no surprise to several hoteliers when I reveal that for the best part of a couple of decades, I've been writing hotel reviews for various Irish and UK publications, under a scattering of noms de plume. 

The reason I’m breaking cover from this obsolete secret is that I’ve recently chosen to cancel a commission to review a London Premier Inn.

An Irish paper noticed I often go back to my native city, so they asked me to write up a weekend visit to London.

The reason you're reading this now is that it all went wrong, weeks before I left home.

Whenever I review a place I ask for a top floor room, and if there’s a noisy road nearby, I ask to be at the back of the hotel.

I do this both because it’s what I want, and to find out how the place deals with simple requests.

Premier Inn turned the everyday task of adding a request to a booking into a nightmare. I ended up emailing their Press Office and a Media person (with a capital 'M'), but each time was forwarded to an Escalation process, where I was patronised and reminded what I already knew.

Point being, I’m not going to review a place that has managed to annoy me before I get on the plane.

I will never write a purely negative review, because wherever it is and whatever has happened, there’s a good human in there somewhere, underpaid, working long and inconvenient hours.

Hopefully when I stay at this Premier Inn, all will be wonderful, but I’m no longer able to arrive as an open-minded guest. 

Left to my own devices I very rarely book a room in a corporate plastic menu hotel. I’ll always aim for the independent family-run outfit, because they are invariably the best.

My two favourite Irish hotels - Flannery’s in Galway City and Rosleague Manor in Connemara - are both independent and family run.

As different in style and status as they are in location, I feel part of both whenever I stay.


Flannery's hotel in Galway City

Flannery’s is my city home from home. Utterly unpretentious while offering every comfort, I’m greeted by a ‘Welcome Back Mr. Adley!’ box of chocs in my room, a bit of football banter with the Duty Manager who calls me Charlie, and last Christmas they sent me a card with a voucher for a night’s B&B inside.

Life feels lovely when loyalty is rewarded with more than spammy e-mails.

Rosleague is my otherworldly escape. Truth be told, I’m a victim of its well-deserved success, as proprietor Mark Foyle’s excellent instincts and superb team have combined to guarantee the hotel is always full.






I try to stay at the beginning or end of the season, when the price is lower. One night at Rosleague Manor leaves me as relaxed as a week by the Med. Two nights and I have to buy a bigger belt.

Flannery’s Hotel and Rosleague Manor offer me sanctuary, in different and vital areas of my life, for which I thank them.

Sounds like I’m thanking a friend?

Good hotels are not about how many stars they wear.

Staying at a good hotel feels like visiting a friend.

I made a new friend in April. Last year I went to Bordeaux, ostensibly for the Rugby World Cup, with three others from my school posse. We rented a house with a pool and it was tremendous fun, great craic; relaxing it was not.

The last time I went on a chill-time holiday was way back in 2017, before the marriage collapse and that mystery illness which almost killed me.

This Spring my confidence finally reached a level sufficient for me to try a solo holiday. I had trouble reconciling in my head the apprehension I felt.

After all, I’d travelled the world on my own, hitching with Blue Bag in the 80s, and in my early 30s went round again, ending up somehow in the country next door.

But travelling is different to being a tourist, and I definitely didn’t want to be in a vast resort hotel, surrounded by families with kids and couples on honeymoon.

It'd be no fun playing the part of a morbidly obese Billy-No-Mates by the pool.

I’m way too anti-social to go on a 'singles’ holiday. Even typing that sends a fearful shiver through me, but I remembered visiting the town of Tavira, in the East Algarve, a few times.

Liking its vibe and taking note.


Away from the thumping great resorts of the Algarve, Tavira lies on a river between Faro and the Spanish border.

Free from fast food outlets, hi-rise hotels and skyscrapers, Tavira is a place of beautifully tiled houses lining tiny cobbled streets.

After countless hours online I found the Authentic Hotel, which despite its name is more boutique than traditional. Usually I run a mile from anything that describes itself as  ‘boutique’, but the reviews for this little 2 star hotel were through the roof.


Located on what might be described as Tavira’s Left Bank, it was within stumbling distance of several excellent neighbourhood bars and tiny family restaurants, filled with locals as well as tourists, where no photographs of food adorned the menu.

I had the most excellent time, partly because Tavira is such a wonderful place, but also because the Authentic Hotel was so lovely, staffed by three or four friendly faces, who always go the extra mile to make you happy.

Hotel stars mostly just reflect services and facilities, and as the Authentic has no bar, no restaurant and no room service, it only qualifies for 2 stars.

However the bathrooms are five star, the breakfasts are quirky and excellent, with a freshly squeezed orange juice that sends a smile guaranteed to shatter your hangover.

The rooms are serviced my midday, and the rooftop terrace has a plunge pool with view of the town’s traditional rooftops.


I loved it, had a magnificent time, never once in any bar or restaurant feeling self-conscious about being alone.

In fact I found the opposite: it was pure luxury to do whatever I wanted whenever I felt like it.

If ever there was a definition of a holiday…

I will be back there next Spring. Checking into the Authentic Hotel will feel like visiting a friend.

As for the Premier Inn, well, you’ll never know.

I’ve cancelled the commission for the review, and will hope that the booking process does not mirror the hotel itself.

©Charlie Adley