News from Irish Hotels & Guesthouses

Fri 3 Feb, 2023
Friday 3 Feb, 2023

Arnolds Hotel
Co. Donegal

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Arnolds Hotel celebrates 100 year anniversary with weekend of celebrations
And recollects the fascinating history and evolution of the landmark family hotel
 Tues 17th January 2023

Arnolds Hotel is a familiar landmark for those visiting Dunfanaghy on their way around the Wild Atlantic Way. The hotel has always had a very loyal clientele who return year after year, and this has been one of the secrets of its success over the years. Arnolds is more than just a hotel: it and the Arnold family are part of the fabric of the local community and the hotel remains a favourite gathering place for special occasions and functions.

The History of Arnolds

Since 1922 four generations of the Arnold family have been welcoming guests to this landmark hotel in the heart of town. The hotel was formerly known as St Patrick’s, and was purchased as a guest house by William T. Arnold in 1922 for a mere £850! During World War II, it was impossible to get rations, so William registered the building as a hotel to enable rations to be obtained.

Prior to the establishment of the hotel by the Arnolds, it was the residence of the then-manager of the Ards Estate, Edmund Murphy. After William’s death in 1948, his son Richard took over, and he and his wife Ada ran the hotel very successfully. Richard and Ada’s eldest child Derek took over the business in 1972 and was joined in later years by his wife Gerarda and brother Bill.

The trio ran the hotel together for almost 40 years and enjoyed many rewarding years. Derek and Gerarda’s son Ryan also joined the business in 1993 but was sadly killed in a car accident in 1998.

The Evolution of Arnolds

The hotel itself has also seen many changes over the years, from the introduction of electricity and running water to the town to the introduction of a licensed premises and bar, which meant the end of the building as a ‘temperance hotel.’

It has survived hardship and difficulty, from the Civil War through World War II, from varying recessions to, most recently, the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, an unprecedented crisis that affected businesses everywhere.

Over the years, Arnolds Hotel has kept pace with the changes and challenges of modern tourism. It has also been a popular destination for many well-known guests, including celebrities like the late Olivia Newton-John, Kevin Whately, Chris Tarrant, Frank Carson, Nicky Chapman, Suzanne Dando, Ryan Tubridy, Dermot Bannon and Daniel O’ Donnell. Gay Byrne and his wife Kathleen were regular visitors to Arnolds too.

Over the years working in the hotel was almost a rite of passage for young people living in Dunfanaghy. For generations of local families, their first job was working in the hotel or, in the early years, on the farm or in the stables at the rear of the hotel. It’s a tradition that continues to this day, with many local young people starting their work journey in Arnolds.

Now a fourth-generation family business, Arnolds Hotel has flourished under the leadership of Aisling Arnold. The hotel won the Georgina Campbell Best 3 Star Hotel for Activity Breaks in 2021, and has also recently been awarded Best Three Star Hotel in Ireland.

Arnolds Hotel and Café Arnou are also featured in the 2022 John and Sally McKenna’s Wild Atlantic Way Guide for their food offering. Successful new additions to the hotel include Café Arnou, a new look Restaurant, a Cocktail Bar and beautifully refurbished bedrooms. Events and Activity Weekends year-round add to the attraction of the hotel. Aisling has recently been joined in the business by her husband Aidan and the duo look forward to growing the business for the next generation.

To mark this momentous 100 year anniversary, a weekend of celebrations began on Friday, 6th January and included a Women's Little Christmas night, the Big 100 Year Quiz and music to suit all ages.

The celebrations continued on Saturday with a live broadcast with Highland Radio, free samples from local suppliers, canapes, prosecco and giveaways. Sunday saw a family car treasure hunt, children's entertainment and a staff reunion night. The weekend was a huge success and enjoyed by all.

Visit Arnolds Hotel’s website

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