Various trips around Ireland
by rufusni on May 3, 2013
I am often travelling on the road through Omagh and on to Belfast and hence am always looking for good places to stop for coffee and/or food. I had seen this place just off the roundabout at Ballygawley- the roundabout with the Omagh road on it. One morning needing coffee I decided to stop as I knew I had make good time already and would make it to Belfast too early. So I pulled in and parked. You go down steps to get into the building. First bad impression is that from the car park you look straight into an old upstairs storeroom with junk which is not great. There is a shop with lots of bits and bobs- a place my mother would love to wander through and buy presents in. The coffee shop has its counter in the middle of this shop and then the seating is down at the far end in another room- strange layout! They had lovely fresh scones so I chose one with apple and cinnamon and a pot of tea and went and sat down as they warmed up the scone and brought everything down to me. The table area is a little too dark- not enough natural light and the furniture was too dark a coloured stain. But the problem was the smell of cleaning solvents from the toilets-not the odour you want! It was not the most pleasant surroundings for a coffee shop- needs some more work! Anyway the scone was good - tasty. Would I stop again, probably - but just for coffee, it didn't impress me enough to try lunch.
by rufusni on February 24, 2013
I have been here a few times due to its location just off the main A1 road between Belfast and Dublin just before it connects to the M1 at Lisburn. Coming from Dublin its just after the Hillsborough roundabout on the first road left. Its handy which is why I have stopped here a few times while on the road. It has been one of the better options for a lunch stop - not the best coffee stop but lunch was pretty good. There is free car parking - and although Hillsborough village is nicer the problem there is often finding somewhere to park to enjoy the eateries actually in the village-so convenience it has hit the mark. Its not the most pleasant building - with a tile showroom and pet store, and the cafe itself has a fairly unimpressive side entrance. Inside there is quite a bit of floor space but its L shaped so the back seems dark and bland, even uninviting, and this is not helped by the choice of lighting and the dark wood and dark coloured used in the chairs. They used to have a bit of a deli but this has now gone and space used for sofas and softer seating near the front window.In the last week I have been in here twice - the first time for brunch and the second for lunch. I had quite fond memories of stopping here a few years ago but hadn't been in for a year. The brunch was not great - though nice loose leaf tea. There were a couple of us - one girl has to be careful with her diet and the waitress was patient in answering questions and switching items for her which was good. The waitress was friendly and pleasant. But the food was a mixed success. I decided poached eggs and soda bread sounded good as I didnt want any meat. The eggs were cooked perfectly for me nice and soft and slightly runny. But the soda was hardly toasted and the eggs not properly drained off meant the bread had become really quite soggy with the excess water. The others were not amazed by theirs - two felt their options were reaonable and the third felt it was a bit subpar but okay. Felt a little embarrassed that I had suggested this place for a late breakfast stop.Lunch - on Saturday meant the place was busy but we were served fairly effieciently- not too quickly to make us feel rushed nor too slow that we felt we were forgotten about. They seemed to be doing major work in the adjoining premises which meant wthere was noise of hammering and stuff. The other two ordered from the sandwich menu and seemed reasonably satisfied though I though the price for what they got was a little high. I decided to eat something more substantial as I knew I wouldn't have time for a proper meal later and ordered the sticky chicken. It came as a chciken breast with a mustardy coating and a pile of mash with a drizzle of pesto type stuff to make it look pretty. The chicken was okay, could have done with more flavour in the sticky marinade, and the mash was fine, but really needed a few vegetables with it to make it a proper meal. All in all - this is not somewhere to come for a special treat. Honestly I think it has gone downhill from when it first opened. And I'm not sure I'll be rushing back in again even if it is handy. Disappointing as its slipped to subpar.
by rufusni on January 30, 2013
Okay - first to call this an airport hotel is stretching things unless you are measuring distance from the end of the runway - it is a good drive away. They do have an airport shuttle - but I was staying here but not flying in or out of the airport. I chose it because of its location just off the M50. It can be accessed using public transport but not easily. They do have above ground and an underground carpark - got a space opposite the door to the hotel. I was early but they let me check-in well before 2pm. Receptionist was friendly and efficient. Got up to the room - strange layout of hallways. Room was bit small - not much space between end of bed and wall - it was definitely a room for one person. Small table and chair by window and another chair at 'desk' vanity. The room was done in a warm orangey wood and orange carpet and throw on the bed - it was cosy looking.The room was really warm even with just a small radiator at the window. There was the usual hairdryer and iron and ironing board. There were two extra pillows in the wardrobe.Bed was comfy enough but it kept rolling away from the wall - had to wedge something in under a wheel to stop that runaway bed.The kettle was nasty - it looked like the element was rusted. But there was a good selection of coffee and tea stuff. The TV was an older model - no flat screen here - but it needed to be changed as the colours were distorted on the screen. I struggled with the internet - but gave up and just used my mobile to check emails.The bathroom was not luxury - signs of wear and tear - and clear evidence of silicon gun in use to fill holes and cracks. But plenty of hot water. But there was a a towel warming rack - it didn't seem to work, and signs of rust on it.The room was fine - not exciting. But the major problem was noise. I didn't hear anything from inside the hotel - apart from someone in the corridor getting into the room next to mine. But it is on a busy junction - and it was traffic noise - lorries, buses, cars, ambulance sirens. That really detracted from the place. It may be better on a higher floor - I was on the 1st floor facing the junction.There isn't much near by apart from apartments. Bit up the road is IKEA. And another retail area has a small grocery shop, McDonalds, coffee shop. The hotel has a few vending machines in the room opposite reception. There was a restaurant in the hotel but at marked up prices for convenience, but really a car is needed to getting anything else.I really only stayed here as I got a good deal. And to be honest I'd probably not stay again - there are other options close by that come in the same price bracket which I have found better, with similar or better quality, and most definitely quieter!
by rufusni on November 12, 2012
I needed a stop on the road between Donegal and Dublin, and so Cavan seemed like a good choice. So I checked out the options and could get a single room rate in the Cavan Crystal. Its not in the centre in the town, rather it is on the road into the town in more an light industry/shopping outlets. The location was great for me as it is just off the route I was taking. There is also free parking.I headed into the hotel. The outside entrance is not well designed with too many steps and oddly laid out ramps, so you really needed to carry a suitcase up. The receptionist was efficient in checking in. And I quickly headed towards the lift - this is one of those buildings with split half levels so the lift stops and opens doors at both sides.Anyway, the room had a queen and also a single bed. The now standard white bed linen but with a red accent throw. The desk and wardrobe were dark wood. All kind of fine, though some signs of wear and tear. The bathroom was quite modern and there were also bathrobes provided. The shower was okay but not great. The room was okay.The problems with the room came through noise. You could hear way too much noise from the corridor, and I could hear the family next door to me. But the worst source of noise was the heating - the heating is a radiator, and it made bangs and knocks - the system needs checking out, but it also carried noise if someone it in another room. I was also glad to be at the back of the building away from the road noise but the windows were not exactly sound proof either.It had been a long day and didn't feel like sitting in the restaurant for a proper dinner. There was a KFC opposite but seemed too greasy for my tired body. So I went down to the bar and was told I could order a sandwich. It would be nice to have a bit of a bar menu there though. The lobby was very light and airy but the bar was quite dark and dimly lit. The bar did have some nice soft seats and did try to look trend, but given it was a week night, it was very quiet so there was no real sense of atmosphere. But I read my book and ordered a drink and waited for my sandwich - which was simple and ordinary but filling. Headed upstairs to my room. It was not the best night's sleep I've had though.Headed down to the restaurant in the morning for breakfast. There is a buffet selection of cold things and also a menu to order hot food - and not just an Irish fry, but also pancakes and kippers for example. The breakfast was good actually, lots of food and tasty. Collected my bags from my room and headed out. All in all it was fine. Not sure I'd go back though for more than a night. I got a reasonable rate and that saved it, if I'd had paid more I may not have been so happy. At the same time there was nothing terribly wrong either at the same time, it just didn't impress all that much. It was fine for a night as a stop on the road but it would not be on my list of places to spend the weekend.
The Crowne Plaza is part of the shopping complex that is the Blanchardstown Centre on the outskirts of Dublin, just off the N3. I booked to stay one Friday night with the plan to do some shopping. I arrived just before four and parked in the underground car park - free car parking. Went up to reception to check-in. The lady on reception was friendly and welcoming. She said that as I prepaid did I want to register my credit card in case I wanted to order a movie or room service, so as I wasn't sure how tired I'd be feeling later I decided that seemed like a plan just in case. Took the lift up to the room. It was a tastefully decorated room in blues, with crisp white bed linen and dark wood furniture. There was a desk area, and a table with two comfy chairs. There was a feature wall of decorated blue wallpaper with leaves, flowers and butterflies in a shimmery blue, that was behind the bed. There was a flat screen TV - with a limited selection of channels RTE, TV3, T4, BBC, ITV, C4, and then also per to view films. The bathroom was good - separate bath and a large shower. Nice toiletries. Clean as well. And it was a huge bathroom - more than enough room to swing a cat.The bed was so comfortable. But only two pillows - which was okay as I was on my own but not if I had been sharing. There was the usual minibar. But they also provided a small complimentary bottle of water. The only other issue was the room was too hot - I'm not used to sleeping in such a warm room.I headed out on foot - across the road there are a few restaurants including a Starbucks, so I stocked up on some caffiene before I went shopping. The main shopping centre is just opposite the hotel. So I had a nice few hours shopping and walked back to leave off my purchases. I decided I didn't feel like changing out of my rather scruffy but comfy jeans so felt a bit out of place going to the restaurant in the hotel, so instead went to Wagamama which is just across the road. But the bar and restaurant looked really lovely. As it had been a really long day, any plans to enjoy the bar went out the window and decided that comfy bed was too appealling. So had a warm bath and tucked myself in nice and early and watched some TV.I did like that the receptionist put me in a room near the lifts rather than at the end of the corridor which I hate when travelling alone. But the noise of the lifts didn't bother me, but rather the clip-clop of heels on the tiled floor just by the lift. It seems strange to have tiles there when everything else is carpeted and there are no doors to muffle that noise down the corridors. Small annoyance but not major.Wasn't sure I was going to take breakfast so I hadn't booked it. Yet glad I didn't as there were two conferences going on that day in the hotel and there were people everywhere. Went and did two small messages in the shops I had forgotten the night before and got some coffee. Came back to the room, packed and checked out.It was a nice stay. The restaurant options within walking distant are chain type places and nothing that spectacular. But the shopping was nice especially as it was within walking distance. I would happily stay here again for a night...but not the place to use if you are going to see Dublin though there are buses from just opposite the hotel into the city centre. It was a good stay...but next time I will make sure I'm not so tired that all I want to do is sleep.
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