Once host to literary giant CS Lewis and infamous highwayman Dick Turpin, one of the “pillars of the Northern Ireland tourism sector” is to go on sale with a multi-million pound price tag.
The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, which dates back to 1614, will go on the market after owner Danny Rice decided to retire following nearly 40 years at the helm.
Located in the heart of Crawfordsburn village, the 400-year-old thatched roof property is set in 1.5 acres and was purchased by Mr Rice in 1982.
He has made significant enhancements which have made The Old Inn a firm favourite and a popular venue for weddings.
The hotel won the prestigious accolade of AA Hotel of the Year in 2017/18. It includes 33 individually-styled bedrooms, the 78-seater Lewis restaurant — which has won two AA Rosettes — two wedding suites following a £1.2m extension in 2015, as well as extensive gardens.
Planning has also been approved for further development to the rear of the property, which is not listed, to enable the expansion of its wedding business.
Joris Minne, Belfast Telegraph food critic, said The Old Inn’s reputation as a quality operation has long been recognised.
“It is one of the pillars of the Northern Ireland tourism sector and many will remember it for being one of the few quality accommodation and restaurant providers offering consistently high quality of service long before the region became an internationally recognised tourism destination,” he added.
I think at the grand age of 80 it’s now time to take a step back and the new owner take the hotel to the next stageOwner Danny Rice
The Old Inn stands on one of Ireland’s most ancient highways leading from Holywood Priory to the parent Abbey at Bangor, founded by St Comgall as a university in 570 AD.
The thatched part dates back to circa 1600, around the time of the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Author CS Lewis, best known for The Chronicles of Narnia, stayed there in July 1958 with his wife Joy for a “perfect fortnight” and a “belated honeymoon”, and it’s thought highwayman Dick Turpin visited while hiding in Ireland.
Mr Rice has developed other bars and hotels, including Robinsons, the Balmoral Hotel, The Fly, The Priory, The Joxer and The Elbow, as well as the Bush Ranger in London’s West End.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed developing The Old Inn over the last 38 years with the support of my family and the great team we have been fortunate to have working at the hotel,” he said.
“I am proud to see how the property has grown and developed to become a prominent feature in the Northern Ireland tourism industry and popular destination for families and friends to come together for special occasions.
“I think at the grand age of 80 it’s now time to take a step back and the new owner take the hotel to the next stage.”
The sale is being handled by GVA NI.