Having literally just returned from a stay in Jackson's hotel, never have I felt so compelled to review a hotel. We were given a 2 night stay with breakfast and 1 evening meal as a gift for Christmas, a livingsocial deal, and having originally wanted to book a weekend in April, we were told the voucher needed to be used by the end of March (despite the voucher stating April 18th), so booked to stay for 2 nights, 22nd and 23rd Feb.
Having read some of the reviews on here, regarding the old and new part of the hotel, we called during the week and asked if possible to be given a room in the new part of the hotel and were assured by the receptionist that this would be fine as the rooms hadn't yet been allocated. So off we went, thoroughly looking forward to our weekend away.
On arrival at Jackson's, all seemed well. We were checked in quite promptly by a new lady on reception, it took a little bit of time but we didn't mind as we were just happy to have arrived and were looking forward to the stay. We were given our room key, explained the use of vouchers for breakfast and evening meal, told that if we wanted to eat in the restaurant that night we would need to book, so thinking it must be the place where everyone goes if a table needed to be booked, we reserved a table for 7.45 and off we went to our room.
Having gotten lost with the rubbish signs on the 3rd floor, we finally found our room, needless to stay we'd been put in the old part, with the grubby carpet, horrendously squeaky floorboards and tacky old fashioned numbers on the doors. We arrived at our room to find the door open, figured it must have been left open by housekeeping and on we went. I can honestly say on opening the door and turning the lights on, it was the grubbiest most old fashioned bedroom I had ever seen, for a 4 star hotel, it was an absolute disgrace. I have attached photos of the grubby curtains, the grubby armchairs with holes in the arms, the tv that belongs in a landfill site at this stage, I then sat on the bed, to sink right down and feel only the base of the bed, the springs were completely gone in the bed, with a measly mattress to topper to somewhat 'soften' it I'm guessing, pathetic. We called reception to say that we had called ahead and asked for a new room, to be told there were none available, however we could upgrade to a suite for an extra 20 euro a night......20 euro to upgrade to what was most likely just a bigger version of the grubby outdated room we'd already been given. No thanks.
We decided to try and make the most of the situation, afterall it was a present, it had been paid for and we weren't going to get the money back if we left so we gave the place the benefit of the doubt, got ourselves organised and went to dinner.
On entering the restaurant, we were pretty shocked to find 3 other tables in the restaurant, hardly booked up as it was made seem at reception, we were quickly seated and given menus, can't fault them there. The restaurant was pretty cold, maybe from the lack of people I don't know. It did take some time for the waiter to return to take our food order, about 10-15mins, we weren't offered a drink in this time, and the menu again was pretty outdated and basic, but hey-ho we ordered anyway. I got the pate to start and the salmon for main course while my boyfriend got the beef spring roll and turkey and ham. His starter was lovely, mine on the other hand, the pate hadn't been blended down properly, there were chunks of fatty meat still in it but I ate around it and it was OK. Whilst we waited for our mains, the couple next to us obviously hadn't enjoyed their mains much and got up and walked straight out of the restaurant, having barely touched their food. Our main courses came and I really can't fault those at all, my salmon was beautiful, lovely flavour with a really tasty sauce and we shared sides of mashed potato and vegetables, so it somewhat redeemed itself. After dinner, we went to the bar and took our drinks out to sit by the far, no complaints there, it was lovely after sitting in the cold restaurant. After a few drinks we went back to our room for the night, well what we thought would be a peaceful nights sleep.
Firstly, we couldn't get into the room, having gone back to reception, the girl at the desk reset the card and up we went to try it again. Returned to reception once more with the card that wouldn't open the door and one of the maintenance guys came up with us. When he realised what room we were in he said 'oh yeah this door doesn't work, you'll have to use this key to open your door and maintenance should be round to fix it tomorrow'. I'm sorry but they clearly knew about this problem, the electronic system wasn't working so why were we given a key card etc as if this was going to work? Needless to say nobody ever came to fix the door and we used the key for the rest of our stay.
You can hear every single movement in the old part of the hotel, not only of people on your floor but the floor below and the floor above. Luckily we couldn't hear any noise from the bar or the lounge as has been mentioned in some other reviews. The walls must be paper thin as well because while I was sitting in bed, someone next door must of moved in their bed and our headboard etc moved with them, like seriously? We were also woken in the middle of the night by the heat in our room, clearly the heating doesn't come on until around 6.30-7pm and must stay on all night, having not realised this we hadn't adjusted the radiator and woke up in the middle of the night absolutely sweltered.
After our somewhat restless nights sleep, we awoke yesterday morning (with a really sore back from the pathetic excuse for a matress) and went to breakfast. Breakfast is really basic, which is fine, we weren't expecting much, my only 2 complaints about the breakfast would be that awful 4 slot toaster, where you have to queue to toast your bread in the toaster, which is constantly turned up to 7 (which I realised too late) which results in burnt toast and more waiting. My boyfriend had the cooked breakfast which was evidently deep fat fried, not just fried in a pan, disguisting, I didn't have any. The selection of cereals was good, the juice was also good, so we both were full after what we ate.
Having left the hotel for the day, and returning last night, we were all set for venturing to a different hotel the Villa Rose down the main street for dinner, however we thought the menu for the Bally Buffet (groan) bistro looked good, and decided to give the hotel the benefit of the doubt and went there for dinner. We put our name down for a table and got a drink at the bar to wait, can't fault the bar staff at all particularly the 2 older bar men, they were very efficient, except for one girl who told us they didn't serve bar food in the bar until 4pm, yet there were people sitting at a table with pizza which had just been brought in from the bistro in front of our eyes. Don't know how that worked.
Having been given our table in the bistro, we were given the menu, some time later they took our order for food and drinks and we thought maybe this could be their point of redemption. Even our starter was quite enjoyable, we had the sharing platter and it was fine. We were then left for ages with our empty plates, long enough for our main to arrive and our starter still to be sitting in front of us, that is just lazy service. I had ordered the beef sizzler, for 16 euro I was pretty optimistic about this, I couldn't have been more wrong. It was a beef sizzler without the sizzle, and a tiny amount for the price I paid, basically just some strips of beef, a few chopped peppers and some egg noodles,don't get me wrong it was ok, but I could make a better stirfry myself and not palm it off as a 'sizzler' served on a skillet. After our mains were finished, we waited I would say at least 15 minutes, probably closer to 20 for our plates to be cleared. Staff came and went to other tables taking their food to them and clearing plates and we were completely ignored. The final straw came when the blond waitress cleared the plates on the table behind us which had been served a good 10 minutes after us, and then walked away again,back to the kitchen. We got up, took the plate with the leftover pizza to the till, asked for a box, paid the bill and left. We weren't even asked how our meal was, offered a dessert menu etc. It was just plain RUDE. For the size of the restaurant (about 15 tables MAX), and the amount of staff there was, there was no excuse for that level of bad service, it really was terrible.
We went back to our room again, generally just peeved off from our entire stay, took our drinks back with us. Watched some tv, well what we could of the 4 channels on that poor excuse for a tv! At about 1am, my boyfriend smelt burning in the room, and walked around the floor to see if he could smell where it was coming from, having no luck locating the smell he went down and told reception, to which the response was 'that is very worrying', yet no-one came back up to the floor with him to check it out. I had visions of the smoke alarm going off and everyone being booted out into the street in the middle of the night. We never did find out what the smell was, and didn't even ask this morning because quite frankly we couldn't wait to get out the door, not wanting to spend any extra time than what we needed to checking out. We can't comment on the leisure centre because I really didn't want to even know what sort of sorry state it would be in given the state of the rest of the hotel. Even the toilets in reception had lights hanging out of the ceiling, for crying out loud, things like these are just basic fix-up jobs, everything is so shoddy.
Overall, I would not waste my money staying in this hotel. I really am always one to give anywhere the benefit of the doubt if it has mixed reviews but I can honestly say that this place really is a sorry excuse for a hotel. I would LOVE to know how it was awarded 4 stars, I genuinely have stayed in better hostels than this place. Seriously save your money and stay elsewhere. It ruined our weekend away, and I would not return to this place if I was paid to stay here. Unfortunately I can't upload my photos for some reason, if I can at a later stage I will.
- Also Known As:
- Jacksons Hotel Ballybofey
- Jackson's Hotel Ballybofey, Ireland - County Donegal
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in the bustling village of Ballybofey, Jacksons Hotel is an award-winning Hotel on the banks of the River Finn and Drumboe Woods. Renowned for its hospitality and great food, Jacksons is the ideal base for touring Donegal and the North West of Ireland. ... more less
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