Arriving in Dublin Airport a week before Xmas I was delighted to see that the normal queue for the taxi rank was not there and I got a taxi to go to the optimistically entitled “Travelodge Dublin Airport” right away. That was the good news. The bad news is the Dublin Taxi driver has zero training or customer service ability. His first gambit was a foul mouthed rant about his 3 hour wait for a “job” with the implication that I he was hoping for a longer trip than mine. He also took two mobile calls (he had no hands free), nearly missed the turn off the motorway and clipped the kerb in doing so and took the longer route on the congested M50 Ring motorway instead of the quicker, shorter, less congested route by the back road to the airport. Oh, there was a final racist tinged rant about “foreign taxi drivers” not knowing their way and “Irish girls” not being safe with them. If this is true then this local product has set a high benchmark for them. Did I say a word to him? I did on my Nelly, I am not the overpaid Dublin Taxi Regulator and I was not going to waste my energy. But here as in so many other areas in Ireland they just don’t get the BIG STORY; they are charging too much money for a poor product and the rest of the world has little interest in their self indulgent whinging.
So we arrive at “Travelodge, Dublin Airport.” Now as a Dubliner I knew where it was and it was convenient for my parents who I was visiting. However the title is deceptive as it is actually 3 miles from Dublin Airport in the middle of the Ballymun Flats Public Housing Project which is in the middle of redevelopment but still retains a somewhat grim reputation. If you have seen the hit movie “The Commitments” this is where the boy is bringing the horse up in the lift because he gets too tired using the stairs! Dublin Airport is described as a 5 minute taxi ride away – 15/20 minutes and 15 euro is the reality. It is not the only misleading info on the Travelodge website. The hotel number is described as 10p a minute from a BT Line, it isn’t a BT number, it is an Irish Telecom number attracting International Call charges from the UK.
It is described as 2 miles from Dublin City Centre; it is actually over 5 miles. An American tourist who had relied on the website descriptions might be confused at this stage by this “Airport Hotel” close to the City?
However first impressions are positive, it is a 4 storey new build hotel open over 8 months which is attractive looking and has fresh interiors. However first impressions don’t last. The drops off areas are permanently occupied by trade vehicles and you have to pull up in the middle of the road with the added danger this entails and difficulty for mobility impaired guests. When we complained we were told that these were guests and the vans were too high to use the underground car park and they had to be parked in sight of reception so they wouldn’t be vandalised – so no proper drop off / pick up bays. Inside the reception is bright and modern but it took 15 minutes for somebody to come to the desk to check us in. We had to change from the first room we were assigned as the shower fitting was broken but the room we eventually got was nice and bright, clean and of a good size with two beds (bigger than older Travelodge’s) and the bathroom was excellent. It also had a TV, trouser press and tea/ coffee making facilities. As we had booked online at 29 euros a night this was a lot of room for the money. However there was evidence that things had been finished in a hurry, spacers left in tiling, floor strips loose, areas being redecorated after only a few months.
However the big weakness is apparent when we came back that night and parked in the “secure” underground car park. We pressed the intercom at the car park entrance and without any conversation or checks we were let in. The car park is shared with apartment dwellers and retailers but there are plenty of clearly marked Travelodge spaces. You need to use your card key to access the hotel (and the lift and your room) but when we got to the “secure” doors they were “open” with the electronic lock disengaged so you could go straight in. Once in the lift lobby you could then access all the floors without a key by going up the stairwell. We spoke to the young receptionist the next morning she said the security lock was due to be repaired and had been out of action for weeks. She also said there was CCTV and there was a security guard in the car park. Well there may be CCTV but there is little point to it if there is nobody at reception to look at it. As for the “security guard” we saw what was happening when we were leaving the next day. There he was in an office in the car park chatting away to a friend and just opening the barrier without checking.
The next morning when we were in reception there was a young German couple remonstrating with the reception. Their car had been scraped and damaged on one side. Seemingly when they were entering the car park there was a large van delivering to Travelodge blocking the entrance and they were told to go down the exit road. As they did so the barrier descended and scraped their car. The delivery drivers didn’t want to know and refused to swap details. They then went to reception and they were similarly uninterested and refusing to take ownership. By the time we were leaving the Gardai (Police) had arrived to deal with the situation. The operation of the car park and the security at this Travelodge leaves a lot to be desired and is an area where the hotel management really need to take ownership.
When we went down to breakfast the next morning (it ends @ 11) we were greeted at 10.45 with a somewhat uncouth statement “Oh, I was about to close up” To welcome us. The “Irish” Breakfast consisted of bacon, sausage, beans and pudding looking somewhat worse for wear. Coffee and orange juice (no choice was offered) was brought to the table. There was no healthy alternative, no yoghurts, no cheese, no cold meats, and no selections of bread or rolls. There were min-croissants. The waitress was friendly enough but was very untrained with a poor manner. For this you have to pay 8.95 euros directly to the café as they are not part of Travelodge and we noticed heavy layers of dust on the partition beside our table.
Travelodge's lack of proper training and management systems is painfully and embarrassingly obvious particularly when you compare it to a very similar 2 star budget chain like Ibis run by the French Hotel group Accor. In Travelodge you are continuously faced with disempowered, untrained juvenile staff and poor management systems and processes and non-existent customer service values. Contrast Travelodge with the cheerful and well decorated Ibis Hotels, The Ibis “If we can’t fix it in 30 minutes the room is free” promise, the excellent and healthy breakfasts they offer, the “Breakfast Non-Stop” and the 24 hour snack availability not to mention the contrast in the customer welcome then by comparison Travelodge is a very poor customer service proposition indeed. It is a great pity that Travelodge’s management is not as good as its marketing.
In summary, nice building, poor management, woeful security, good value if you don’t get robbed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Travelodge Dublin Airport Ballymun is ideally located 4 km from Dublin Airport and 5km from Dublin City and offers spacious modern rooms at budget prices. The hotel operates a shuttle bus service to/from the airport every 20 minutes for €3.00 Per passenger. The service runs from 05am-9am and 5pm -9pm. Stay in Dublin for less this year, for business, catching a flight from Dublin Airport or visiting Dublin City for shopping and leisure. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Travelodge Dublin Airport Ballymun Hotel Dublin
- Dublin Travelodge
- Dublin Travel Lodge