breaking news

The Old Inn shines with top AA hotel title

November 1st, 2017 | by LCN Editor
The Old Inn shines with top AA hotel title

The Old Inn at Crawfordsburn has taken the title of Hotel of the Year in Northern Ireland for 2017/18 at the recent AA Hospitality Awards.

The title of Hotel of the Year for NI was presented to The Old Inn at Crawfordsburn during a glittering evening in the Grosvenor House Hotel in London recently.

It comes as the 400-year-old family-run hotel continues with an extensive programme of remodelling and redecoration.

Speaking to LCN following the announcement of the award earlier this month, director, Garvan Rice revealed a 20 per cent increase in Christmas voucher sales and a rise in footfall since news of the win was made public:

“It’s an incredible recognition of the entire team here at The Old Inn,” he added. “We are very proud of each and every staff member at the hotel.”

And Garvan’s brother, Paul, managing director at the venue, says the family was delighted to learn about the win:

“It recognises the individuals throughout the hotel for their warm personalities and the skill and execution of delivering top class food, drinks and accommodation,” he adds. “It’s also great recognition for the sales and administration team who ensure our brand and our company remain strong in a challenging market.”

The Old Inn celebrated its 400th year in business during 2014. When Garvan and Paul’s father, Danny Rice, bought the hotel in 1982, it was a 16-bed dwelling with just eight en suite rooms.


Now in their 20th year, the AA Awards are considered to be among the most prestigious in the UK’s hospitality trade. As part of a rigorous judging process, judges spend months eating and sleeping in many of the best hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and pubs across the UK.

For the Old Inn, the NI title is recognition of a consistently high performance in these awards. The hotel has achieved merit scores in excess of 83 per cent for the last five years.

This year’s judges praised the venue for its “untold elegance and grandeur”.

“They keep the criteria for Hotel of the Year quite guarded, but they did disclose to us that consistency of service while we went through big changes at the hotel were the bedrock of the award,” says Garvan.

“In 2015, we were awarded a new category of four ‘Silver Stars’ in recognition of an exceptional level of quality and consistency in our four-star grading. That came along with 17 years of holding two AA rosettes in the Lewis Restaurant. But the Hotel of the Year title is really the cherry on the cake.”

Garvan Rice also revealed that since news of the Old Inn’s success broke, reception staff have been fielding a stream of congratulatory messages:

“Feedback from guests, suppliers and other hoteliers has been phenomenal,” confirms Garvan. “Notable congratulations have come from the likes of the mayor of Ards and North Down, Robert Adair; Janice Gault the chief executive of the NI Hotels Federation and many of our suppliers, but the most rewarding thing is that many of our customers are using social media, letters and emails to wish us well.”

A gala dinner has been planned for the hotel at the end of this month and to help further mark The Old Inn’s AA victory, staff members at the hotel are being offered personalised gifts.

News of the title win was also on everyone’s lips during a recent function at the hotel when the mayor, Robert Adair, unveiled a new blue plaque commemorating a honeymoon stay at The Old Inn by the author, CS Lewis, in 1958. Lewis and his literary friends were known to be frequent visitors to the Inn.


Our picture above shows Paul and Garvan Rice outside The Old Inn with their AA trophy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *