Sunday 17 February 2008

Hotel Watch - The Ballsbridge Inn

As I travel quite a bit I thought it might be nice to rate some of the hotels I stay in for the future reference of anyone who may need to go use them in the future. Most of these hotels are abroad but we're starting with an Irish one, simply because we used it while visiting the Sunday Business Post's Property Expo over the weekend.

The D4 Hotels have sprung up from Sean Dunne's audacious bid to put a walloping great skyscraper where Jury's and the Berkeley Court formerly stood in Ballsbridge. Having found that the road to planning wasn't as smooth as he thought it might be he re-opened the hotels as the D4 Group, along with a couple of other hotels he's got.

Seeing as we were booking on the Tuesday before the show our choice close to the RDS was pretty limited. Bewleys is normally a good option but it was booked out, as were other neighbouring hotels. This weekend was also the one on which the Meteors were being held at the RDS and Leinster were playing a high profile rugby match just down the road. No problems getting a booking at the Ballsbridge Inn (formerly Jurys) though. €109 for the room if you ring them and a very reasonable €80 if you book it online. Can't be bad for the middle of Ballsbridge.

So what do you get for your €80? Well you get a room, full stop. Nothing complimentary, not even a glass of water, a cup of tea or a coffee in the room. The old tea and coffee service units are still in the rooms but they're completely empty. But then you probably couldn't expect much in this regard for the price in this part of Dublin. Let's be clear here, this is not Jurys remodelled. This is Jurys exactly the same as it was before it was shut down last year. The doors of the rooms still even have the price rates from 2007 with the Jurys logo on them. This same room, which was comfortable but a bit dated, would have cost us a whopping €399 a year ago according to the standard rates on the back of the door. That's a heck of a saving.

In terms of decor this is essentially a three star hotel, despite its alleged four star rating. It does all look rather dated at this stage, seating is somewhat threadbare, etc. and everything is worked on franchise so you don't get any of the old Jurys warmth here. You'll find franchised juice bars, snack counters, hairdressers, etc. which does give a disjointed air to the whole thing.

The franchise you're most likely to utilise is the Dubliner Bar (again unchanged from its Jurys days) which is now run by Charlie Chawke. We had dinner here which, again if the old Jurys rates are anything to go by, cost us about 2/3 of what it would have a year ago. The food is not haute cuisine, but it is a very good hearty menu. It is fresh, hot, served promptly and good value for money. You can't ask for a lot more really. Same thing went for breakfast, a fine full Irish appeared but it is not included in the price of the hotel, it will set you back a further €12. The problem with all the franchises is that you have to pay everything separately, but it is a minor problem all things considered.

Parking was a bit of a shock. If you go to the machine inside the door it will charge you €15 per day if you're prepared to pay it. If you are a resident you're entitled to get it for €7.50 for an overnight stay. It doesn't say this on the machine though so unless you're 'in the know' you could get fleeced. Go pay the bill at the counter instead.

Overall you can't beat the location or the price. The food, value and atmosphere in The Dubliner Bar were also hard to quibble with so you'd have to give it a bit of a thumbs up really. If you're looking for the opulence and pampering of a four or five star hotel then it would be best to give it a miss. You also have to be aware that this could be a very fleeting entity, if Sean Dunne gets his planning permission you could find a bulldozer makes it to the front door before you do so it's probably best only to book it at short notice.

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