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“A treat but expensive”

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Gregans Castle Hotel
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Ballyvaughan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 28 September 2010

We stayed here for 1 nite as we'd vouchers otherwise i would normally not pay over 200 euro's for 1 nite's accomadation no matter how nice.
The hotel itself is located a couple of miles from the quaint village of ballyvaughan.
The hotel is really nice, a country house.
A lovely bar inside there, the only problem was we were the only 2 people in there.
The rooms were very nice, beware though if looking for a tv you won't find one in gregans.
The grounds are very nice.
We ate in the restauraunt which is an experience.
I've never eaten food like it before, fine dining it certanily was.
The chef obviously puts a lot of work in to the food and the staff were friendly and very efficient.
Worth going once for treat.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank IrelandMike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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375 - 381 of 466 reviews

Reviewed 27 September 2010

We only had two nights to spend in rural Ireland and carefully selected Gregans Castle after extensive research. In general we thought it lived up to its strong reputation with one important exception, which I'll explain below. First, the good parts: the rustic beauty of the Burren area is really astonishing so that gives Gregans a great start. The property itself is also quite lovely with stunning gardens and landscaping. Admittedly the building and its furnishings in the public areas are showing thier age but that is part of the place's shabby charm; we really didn't mind. We also found the peat fires quaint and "part of the experience", although I can understand why some might object to the lingering smell. We rented the Burren Suite and found it spacious and well appointed if a bit dated. The shower took an eternity to heat up but other than that we really had no complaints about the room.

We found the food to be exceptional for Irish standards and, in fact, was better than a Michelin star restaurant we ate at in Dublin and a Gordon Ramsey restaurant we ate in in London on the same trip. We found it inventive, delicious and much more daring than we would have expected for country home dining. The portions were just right and the presentation was creative and attractive. The wine list was also impressive. The only issue with the food was that it was served on slate plates which looked stylish but sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard whenever a diner scraped their knife across thier plate.

Now for the objectionable part: we found the service to be quite inconsistent and at times borderline appalling. Whether you received excellent or atrocious service seemed to depend on which "team" was serving you. Upon arrival we were greeted by a gracious lady who we presumed to be one of the proprietors. She was very solicitous about arranging a walking tour for us. James, a charming guy from Cork helped us with our bags and later served us in the dining room and in the bar. He couldn't have made us feel more welcome and was really knowledgeable about the local sites, the food, the hotel etc. He delivered precisely the type of service we expect in a hotel at this price point--warm, knowledgeable, engaging. He was either genuinely interested in people or put on a good act. The second night James seemed to be on his day off and everything went downhill. At dinner our waitress told us to just order our wine by the number because she couldn't possibly remember it by name! (How is that for four star service??!!) We had long and uncomfortable waits between the courses and there seemed to be some kind of commotion in the kitchen. The chef would occasionally come out and pace around, angrily. No one asked how our meal was. We had to serve our own wine, not just once but repeatedly. A patrician looking gentleman who we took to be one of the proprietors greeted us perfunctorily and then spent the rest of the evening sitting with a table of film types who were doing a shoot at the hotel, ignoring all of the other guests. We could hear him explaining at length his new advertising campaing for the hotel and how excited he was about it--I would have thought his best advertising campaign would be to entertain the guests, or at least pour their wine so they didn't have to do it themselves. Having selected his hotel from amongst hundreds and travelled from Toronto to stay at it, I would have expected him to express some modicum of interest in knowing where I came from and why I chose his hotel. The dinner ended with our waitress disappearing before our final dessert course arrived. We waited some time in vain and then finally got up and went back to our rooms.

On check out a particularly unfriendly matronly woman silently presented the bill then looked at my credit card with suspicion as if she thought it unseemly that a woman would pay for a hotel stay. She never even asked if we enjoyed our stay, where we were going or engaged in any of the conventional chit chat one would expect from the staff at a good country inn.

Upon reflection it was the poor service that ultimately leaves me feeling that Gregans was pretty average, expecially in light of the price and the advance billing it got in the reviews I read. This may be unfair, perhaps we just got it on a bad day, but Gregans' bad day was also a day of my precious vacation that I was very much looking forward to so I can't help feeling a bit resentful and insulted. Not sure I'd recommend it despite some of its very appealing attributes.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Torontotraveller39
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 September 2010

We enjoyed our stay at Gregans Castle except for the overpowering lingering peat smoke. It was all through the entry, hallways and dining room. For anyone sensitive to smoke, as I am, it could be a very uncomfortable experience. The breakfasts were very good.

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank BelleJour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 September 2010

I think this place was probably really nice at some point. However, I think the current ownership is either unable or unwilling to update the place. The stairway carpets are worn down to the mesh underneath. The roof outside our window held the same stagnant water all three days we were there. There was wallpaper peeling off the walls in our room. You leave the facility with a suitcase full of clothes that smell like peatfire smoke. Dinner is probably good, but WAY overpriced. I've stayed at high end places before that would fall into this category and this was simply not worth the money.

My wife felt very unwelcome from the start. Maybe its because we are a little younger than most guests. Maybe they didn't like that we never ate dinner in their restaurant. I don't know. The lady that greeted us sort of acted like we were an inconvenience. The nicest staff person there was Brian(?) who was treated like a slave the whole time we were there. He had to run back-and-forth between the restaurant and the bar and took luggage upstairs. Why? The ridiculously high rates aren't enough to pay for a bartender and a bellboy? Oh, and it was four Euro for them to wash a pair of underwear!

Again, I just think that this place has seen better days. If they don't update their building in the near future I would say that Gregan's is a big waste of money.

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank SPGalaxyFan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 August 2010

We spent the August bank holiday with the lovely people of Gregan. The service, food and hospitality was fantastic! The setting is picturesque and is perfect to enjoy the Burren surroundings. Everyone in the hotel was so obliging and they helped make our weekend unforgettable. Thank you to everyone :)

Stayed: July 2010
Thank realdeburgos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 August 2010

I travelled to Gregans with my husband and two children. Our room was perfect for all 4 of us! We dined together and the children loved the local Lamb and Chocolate Mousse (Childrens portions! just right) We walked the grounds and discovered the secret pond where amazing water lilies were in full bloom - kids were in awe! lots of places to sit back and take in the full beauty of Gregans and the wider Burren landscapes. Breakfast for us was the huge WOW - each morsel of food was local and carefully selected by the hotel to ensure a memorable meal. The staff were warm, professional and very friendly. We will be back and we will be telling everyone!!!

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled with family
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Thank Castleview70
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 August 2010

Very tasty food but £23.95 for a main course at lunchtime and getting appetiser portion is screaming rip off Ireland ......!

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Thank orla_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Gregans Castle Hotel

Address: on the N67, Gragan East, Ballyvaughan 01, Ireland
Region: Ireland > Province of Munster > County Clare > The Burren > Ballyvaughan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Ballyvaughan
Price Range: £202 - £825 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Gregans Castle Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 21
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

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