Ballycanal Manor is not a place I'd recommend. I can't really point at one thing that makes this place one I'd suggest you avoid, but all of the annoyances combined serve to create a feeling of unwelcome that is disconcerting and in my experience, unheard of in European self-catering establishments.
We were met at the house by a man who seemed horribly put out that we had dared come on the day and time for which our reservation was made. It took him some time to locate keys and nearly 20 minutes for him to rouse himself enough to open the door of the place and let us in. I figured he had a case of holiday-itis and blew it off, but as it turned out, he is just "like that". All the time. :-(
Ballycanal Manor is located in an extremely convenient location off of the main roads. We found it very easy to drive to. The train station is adjacent to the property. Even though we were the farthest unit from the station, we did hear trains running all night and day long though it wasn't particularly annoying. There's plenty of parking. The location is not pretty at all, but we weren't there for the view.
Our unit was the end unit. It has 3 bedrooms (1 single, 2 triples, and a sofa bed--2 upstairs, the single is down) along with 3 full bathrooms and a tiny kitchen. Though the unit will sleep up to 9 people, the table seats just 3. The living room was large, though, and had enough furniture for our group of 8 to visit together as long as some sat at the dining table.
The first thing we wanted to do when we arrived was clean up, but this proved impossible, as the mismatched towels in the unit were dirty. I bring up the towels because they made us laugh -- they are like the see-through avocado green towels at your mother-in-laws house, mixed in with a few dishtowels. Very odd. The linens on the beds were cheap. Not a deal breaker, just scratchy. The beds were uncomfortable 2 star tourist mattresses. The televisions operated on an aerial antenna. The tvs may have been color, but it was impossible to tell. None of the 4 channels came in well enough to be sure.
The kitchen was filled with foodstuffs of uncertain age left by previous visitors. Normally I appreciate this but the food looked so old, I was actually afraid to touch it. The owners don't stock fresh food themselves -- not even milk.
The self-catering units require charge cards for electricity. I've stayed at several self-catering locations in the UK and Ireland, and though I've heard of it, we have never experienced it before. There is no mention of the pay electricity on the website, and the owner didn't mention it either. Thankfully my DH noticed it before we used up the change that was left on the card in the unit.
The unit does have a washing machine and dryer (stored in the downstairs bath); however, there is not actually an outlet in the bathroom, and the dryer must be moved to the living room to operate.
We visited the location in the winter, and strangely the *upstairs* was unbelievably cold, while the downstairs stayed uncomfortably warm. We finally figured out why on our second day: the street side entrance has a 2-story wall-to-ceiling glass enclosure that is EXTREMELY drafty. Even though Ireland has mild summers, I bet that enclosure makes for uncomfortably hot summers, too.
As for the nearby village of Moira, you should know Moira is the kind of village that one drives through. And based on the traffic we saw, folks drive asfastastheycan to get out of Moira to better places. Even the female owner when describing it told us quote: "it's not a *bad* village." The chippie shop in Moira is very good, but avoid the pizza place. It is honestly the worst pizza I have ever eaten, and I grew up eating pizza served by the Mississippi public education system. The grocery store (back off the street) is well supplied. The Tannery restaurant nearby is EXCELLENT.
For a family running both a B&B and self-catering apartments, the owners are surprisingly socially inept. The man made us all feel unwelcome from the first moment we arrived, as I described. When the female owner arrived home around 6pm, she came by to introduce herself and apologized for not being home when we arrived while at the same time trying to snub me by saying she had tried to contact us 2 days before to confirm our arrival. Hrm? I had made reservations 3 months in advance. The facility does not require a deposit. They never attempted to make any contact with me during that time, and then tried to suggest I had terribly inconvenienced them by showing up at exactly the time specified my reservation. Okay, whatever.
At that time we asked to buy a card for electricity. This turned out to be a horrible problem for them as well. We gave the owner 5 GBP for one, and she left to get it for us. After waiting for 2 hours for the lady to "come right back" with our card, my DH finally walked to the house at 9 PM at pick it up.
As for the male owner, his behavior was downright rude. During the last night of our stay, I guess he finally decided he ought to come get some money, lest these crazy Americans run away without paying. *sigh* So, at 8:30pm he invited himself into our apartment. I kid you not. 5 of us were out of the apartment, 2 were in bed, and the other in the shower, when he unlocked the door and let himself in. My brother, who was in the downstairs shower, asked him to wait a minute while he dressed. Owner-man asked for his money, which I already had counted out and laid on the dresser in my upstairs room in an envelope. My brother gave the envelope to the man. Then owner man gets all aggressive with my brother and says that the money isn't all there. So, I got out of bed, dressed, grabbed my emailed reservation confirmation, and came downstairs. Owner-man, upon seeing that I had my reservation in my hand, finally relented and admitted we had given him enough money, but not until he counted the cash THREE MORE TIMES right there in front of us. After trying to get another 5 quid out of us for the power card (that we had already paid for), he finally let himself out, leaving my brother in his towel and me mostly-dressed in a stunned silence.
You know, none of the things I'm describing are deal breakers. They're annoyances, really. I've stayed in much worse places with many of the same problems, but I've never stayed at any place where EVERY little thing that could be wrong, was wrong. The annoyances of the facility itself when coupled with the odd behavior of the owners combined to make us feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.
Sorry, but we can not recommend the Ballycanal self-catering.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 4* Accommodation at a 5* Location. Our 4* NITB approved Guest Accommodation and Self Catering Cottages is excellently located at M1 Junction 9, Moira/Airport roundabout. We are situated 10 minutes by car to Lisburn and Craigavon, 20 minutes to Belfast International Airport, 30 minutes from Belfast Harbour, 40 minutes from Larne Ferry Terminal. In addition we are 3 minutes walk from Moira Train Station and15 minutes walk from Moira Village.Ballycanal Manor is ideally situated overlooking the Lagan Navigation Canal. The unique canal side location provides a perfect resource for peaceful walks, fishing and cycling. Our rooms are all ensuite with free Wi-Fi access, digital plasma T.V, Sky sports and movies, DVD player and tea/coffee making facilities. Guests can avail of complementary cool filtered water and use of a private guest lounge to enjoy family get-togethers and/or business meetings. Self Catering Cottages consist of five, two storey houses, built in a courtyard style and designed in a contemporary fashion providing bright and spacious living areas. The open plan living/dining and kitchen area have two sets of patio doors which lead to paved patio area with landscaped walled gardens, picnic areas with BBQ facilities and private car parking. Disabled cottage available. Room’s ensuite. Fully equipped kitchens. Awarded 4 Star NITB classification.Our accommodation is an alternative to hotel stays offering you freedom, peace and privacy, at a lower cost. Whether your stay is for business or pleasure, a warm and friendly welcome is promised. FREE Wi-Fi. ... more less