This was our first visit back here in a few years, and one we were really looking forward to as we had enjoyed it so much the last time we stayed, we were expecting to be the highlight of our honeymoon trip around Ireland. Sadly we were to be disappointed with Gregans Castle in most aspects some of which were just plain daft I feel from their view.
The positives for us were the room and housekeeping, this is something very much the same as before stunning views of the Burren and a room / hotel which is absolutely spotless. I cant stand shabby attention to detail and even hard to reach places looked dust free, the lovely laid open fires here and there with the nice smell of peat as you ramble through the hotel are great. Easy to look at but someone has to make it happen and they do this ever so well. Also liked the bar they have a nice selection of artisan beers and ales as well as Loungeville House cider - slightly out of the ordinary and a nice touch.
Kinda goes downhill for us from here, one of the highlights for us last time was the restaurant and reading reviews etc we were so looking forward to this again. Surprise one was the lack of choice you could have a taster menu of some seven courses and that was that. Now I love a taster menu nad have eaten many of them but two nights on the trot, no that for me is a hotel and chef that are way too pretentious. I am a big boy and have eaten in many excellent restaurants all over the place I can choose a meal for myself - I do not need to be told what to eat. The food received was very well cooked but as with all taster menus there are some things not to your pallet - on the second night my wife did not like at least 30% of what was put in front of her. The most annoying aspect to this is that it is not mentioned anywhere on the web site and obviously came as a surprise to many as we heard a German group near us in the bar discussing the menu saying they dont eat this they dont eat that etc. I am sure that is not what they expected from a 4 star hotel. The saving grace for the restaurant is Martin he is a very pleasant and likeable chap.
The hotel apparently won a service award last year I would be shocked if they win one this year for sure, and this is from the top down here. On check in there was confusion regarding the key to our room apparently the last people to stay had taken both keys and there was no spare, a master key had to be found and this seemed to take an inordinate amount of time. Eventually this was sourced and everything was squared away in the room we then went for a walk, I made a point of going to reception giving them the key and saying we were going for a walk as I had mailed them previously and asked for a bottle of champagne to be placed the room - as I could not be specific as to arrival time it was clear it would not be there on actual arrival. After our walk which took some 45 - 50 minutes on return to the room no champagne so I made an excuse to go to the car to collect something. On asking at reception the first response was "to who are we talking" just how rude can you be was my thought. Eventually the champagne arrived no apologies arrived with it though. Earlier in the week we were in Gougane Barra (now theres a spot that knows about service) and the owner Katy told us they knew the owner of Gregans Castle well be sure and give him their best wishes. Sadly Simon seems to have no time at all for his customers we asked on arrival if Simon was about we were told no but he should be back soon and he would say hello. Now Gregans is not large and we passed who we believe to be Simon on one or two occasions and we were actually served by him once in the bar we think on no occasion did he even say hello to us. Now I am sure he is busy but it is a small hotel saying hello to your guests should be a matter of course even if you dont want to engage in conversation. On check out my wife asked is Simon about and again we were told no he was out so she relayed the message from Katy and was told "oh thats a shame Simon would have loved to have met you I will give him your message and I am sure he will call". Now we didn't care one way or the other if he did or didn't for us it was unimportant but he didn't anyways.
Gregans Castle looks to me like a hotel which is starting to believe its own hype, it does an awful lot right yet we left with a sour taste in our mouth. Perhaps we had too high an expectation from our previous visit but its a 4 star hotel and award winning restaurant and not cheap so I dont think so. Of the four places we stayed over the wedding and honeymoon this was the worst and not by a little bit I am afraid.
Will we be back - No to be honest which is a shame as it really should be fantastic
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- With breathtaking views across Galway Bay and idyllically situated overlooking the unique Burren landscape, this is the ultimate luxury and gourmet hideaway. Simon and Frederieke together with their staff manage this oasis of comfort and offer genuine Irish hospitality, award winning innovative cooking and elegant bedrooms free from the intrusion of televisions. Antiques, an eclectic art collection, open fires, candles, jugs of flowers and Shelley the cat add to the indulgently relaxing atmosphere. The hotel while strictly not a "castle" in the usual sense of the word has been named "Gregans Castle" since it was built in 1750 as a more comfortable residence for the O'Loughlen and Martyn families from the nearby 16th century towerhouse. Located on the Wild Atlantic Way and the Burren Food Trail. The ideal location from which to enjoy the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Walking, Cycling, the Aran Islands, Horse Riding, Surfing, Sea Angling, Golf. Members of The Burren Ecotourism Network. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gregans Castle Ballyvaughan
- Hotel Gregans Castle
- Gregans Castle Hotel Ballyvaughan, Ireland - The Burren