"In a word "WOW"
A number of years ago I had the pleasure in staying in what was described as one of the best hotels in the world in Thailand. I stayed for a number of days, and it was perfect, but for some reason, that I couldn't put my finger on, I had an underlying feeling of disappointment.
When I recently had the pleasure of spending a day in Ballyfin, this memory from years ago was on my mind. As Ballyfin was voted one of the best hotels in the world, will this accolade be just too much to manage the expectations of the guests. Well I can say with absolute certainty no. Ballyfin is an absolute gem. From the moment you ring the buzzer on the gate, to the very sad moment of leaving through the same gates, the experience is just wonderful. I believe the difference in my experience with Ballyfin was down to the staff. The interactions with the staff, are not the polished, sometimes cold experience you get in high end establishments, but one of personal honesty, and warmth. This approach ensures you snap into relaxation mode as soon as you get to the door.
As the manager said to me when leaving, "they want to create the feeling of staying in a home, rather that a hotel". Well they cracked it, actually no, they smashed it.
The only down side I can come up with has been, its been a number of weeks since my stay, and the place is still on my mind. I may now never be happy in any other hotel ever again.