We spent four nights (July 29th – Aug 1st 2013) at the Jackson’s Hotel in Ballybofey in Room 141 (in the older part of the hotel) and we were not entirely satisfied with our stay. It was part of the Shearing’s Northern Explorer Tour. There are quite a few things that we liked about the hotel – the foyer with its open fire with the pleasant smell of wood smoke permeating the air, the large clean bedroom, the comfortable bed, the excellent porridge, the excellent sweets including strawberry cheesecake, Banoffee cheesecake, apple crumble and chocolate fudge cake. We found the staff helpful and friendly. The location of the hotel close to the Drumboe Woods with its excellent walks and closeness to the shops make it an ideal place to stay.
However there are a number of things which resulted in our overall dissatisfaction with the hotel. We got a bad first impression of the hotel when the luggage handling on arrival was slow and one of the cases was sent to the wrong room.
The service in the restaurant for the evening meal was unacceptably slow to serve three courses and coffee July 29th 1 hour 15 min, July 30th 1 hour 52 min, July 31st 1 hour 49 min, Aug 1st 1 hour 20 min. I expect to be in the restaurant for no more than an hour and that this is not an unrealistic expectation was borne out by the fact that the receptionist in the hotel who was inviting us to a function in the hotel expected us to be only an hour having our evening meal. The quality of the food in the main part of the meal was not up to the standard I expect from a four star hotel, the chicken was fine, the pork was fatty, the Tagliatelle was sloppy with tough asparagus, the garlic bread was soggy and hardly tasted of garlic, the baked plaice contained more skin than fish about one table spoonful of fish in total, the carrots were fine but the broccoli, cauliflower and green beans were not cooked enough.
Only one electrical socket for TV, kettle, hair dryer phone charger, battery charger etc. (This is in fact a non compliance for a 4 star hotel Failte Ireland regulation 10.4G). There were a number of other things about the room which although not worthy of a complaint create an impression, the dated décor, the 2” gap on the bathroom door which had no proper fastener, the inordinate length of time it took for the water to run hot in the bathroom, the poor water pressure in the shower, the view of leaking gutters from the window, coming back at 3pm in the afternoon and finding the room hadn’t been cleaned, the impression it gives is this is not a four star hotel. From numerous other similar comments on Trip advisor I am not alone in getting this impression. Comments from management like ‘if you were not happy with the room we could have moved you to another room’ and the assurance that ‘we are a four star establishment, approved and accredited by Failte’ do not dispel the impression.
I read 50 reviews of the hotel on Trip advisor for July / Aug 2012 and the last 50 reviews for this year 2013 and there does not seem to be any significant improvement although now most complaints get a reply. It is obvious that the people who rate the hotel excellent are staying in the newer part of the hotel and those who rate it terrible are mostly staying in the older part. One criticism of the newer part of the hotel is the noise from wedding functions (regulation 4.12 B for a 4 star hotel requires that there is adequate insulation to ensure that the noise transmitted does not interfere with the comfort of other guests within the hotel.)
The slow service in the dining room for the evening meal could be rectified by the right kind of staff training and better organisation. Having some element of self service such as a carvery is often favoured in a lot of hotels with a considerable improvement in the speed of service.
Although we had no complaints about the service at breakfast I can see potential problems in the method of toast production and the fact that the cooked breakfast is not self service this is borne out by some of the other reviews.
I was not impressed with the small comment card with its ratings of Excellent, Good and Fair, it almost smacks of just being compliant by checking customer satisfaction without being passionate about doing anything to improve it. A card with ratings from 1 – 9 with plenty of room for comments would have impressed me more.
In conclusion the Jackson’s Hotel in Ballybofey is in fact two hotels if you stay in the newer part you will have a better experience than if you stay in the older part but you will have to pay more for the privilege.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in the bustling town 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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- Also Known As:
- Jacksons Hotel Ballybofey
- Jackson's Hotel Ballybofey, Ireland - County Donegal