I’ve stayed in hotels with many very different decorative statements and themes over the years. The Golden Age of Hollywood (Prohibition era cocktails! Dim lighting! Sepia tones!) Fashion (Menacing arrays of creepy, randomly placed, store mannequins, without even Andrew McCarthy around to make these sorts of props acceptable.) Llamas (fear not, this review is coming!)
But I’ve never before stayed in a hotel with a bee theme. I’m not saying that bees aren’t stars or that they shouldn’t be celebrated for their all-round awesomeness; After all, without them, there wouldn’t be honey, flowers or a significant proportion of income reaped by epi-pen manufacturers. No, bees rock and honey is delicious, but you generally wouldn’t smather some on an art board and pin it on your wall… or line up haphazard bits of hive and stick them, jenga-like, in your front room, now, would you? Well, the fine folks behind the Annebrook House Hotel have done exactly this. My favourite bee-work was the series of honey splats that looked like someone had bought three really gooey cinnamon swirl buns, squished them down briefly but enthusiastically on a sheet of paper, and then stuck it in a frame. Yum.
But, really, other than a misplaced desire to give bees the artistic acclaim they have been long denied, the AHH is quite delightful. The hues of honey, wood and caramel are soothing, the rooms are roomy and bright, the bar is crammed with exuberant Irish people and the restaurant is in an atmospheric cellar. Staff include a super helpful front desk lady called Martha who hummed happily as she checked train timetables and a slew of excellent restaurant servers who remained cheerful, polite and unbothered despite my dad’s repeated efforts to insult them at every meal.
Who would this hotel suit?
*Anyone wanting to explore the wonders of County Westmeath. Presumably there are some.
*Couples, families, solo travellers, larger groups.
*People not planning to sleep before 2am on Friday or Saturday nights/people who enjoy covers of The Cure, various Irish bands of the 80s and 90s until the bar closes.
*People not allergic to bees.
*It seems that most people who stay in Mullingar of a weekend are rather intoxicated for the duration. A few wee stings, courtesy of the bee hives up on the third floor smoking balcony, could be a helpful way of waking guests up when they pop out for some fresh air the morning after. Also, yay, bee preservation!
*Sarcastic Estonian restaurant manager, well able to out-insult persistently cheeky 74-year-old guests.
*Atmospheric restaurant in the House’s old cellar with best food in town and a generous breakfast buffet for all guests. Great, dark alcove/nook for romantic dinners or for those wanting to avoid sunlight at breakfast time.
*Views of rooftops, the old church, river and park, chefs having a sneaky smoke out by the bins.
*Perfect location on the main street of Mullingar, opposite a coffeeshop and the fascinating Dealz bargain store – if you need some religious statuary or toilet cleaner for your stay, you are in luck.