Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hotels named among UK's best places to stay

By Jonathan Bell

Two Northern Ireland hotels have been named as among the best to visit in the UK - with one of them narrowly missing out on the top spot.

The 2017 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for hotels, announced on Tuesday, revealed the top rated UK hotels based on guest reviews.

And in the UK, Bishops Gate Hotel in Derry came in at number two - just behind London's Hotel 41 which also made it on to the list of the world's best places to lay your head for a night.

"Fantastic overnight luxury stop," said one guest of their time in the Derry hotel, "well worth a visit."

Opened in March 2016 by charity the Inner City Trust, the grade B1 listed Bishops Gate describes itself as 'a Derry Landmark reborn' with 30 bedrooms, The Wig & Gown Champagne Bar & Restaurant and the Northern Counties Ballroom.

The former Northern Counties Building was previously a private members' club and base for the city's business and civic leaders, which once hosted the likes of Ulster Unionist leader Lord Carson as well as Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Nobel-winning poet, WB Yeats.

It has been supported by National Lottery funding and the Northern Ireland Executive and was recently the location chosen for Martin McGuinness to announce his retirement from front line politics. The Sinn Fein veteran also opened the hotel.

Hotel operator Ciaran O'Neill said he was in a state of shock at the achievement and spent 30 minutes double checking it was right.

"It is exceptional for Northern Ireland - I'm delighted," he said.

Ciaran said he visited four of those on the list to use as benchmarks for him prior to opening and he put the success of the hotel down to the dedication of its staff.

"In the reviews people mention the experience and the work of the staff. My theory is always to deliver the service and product rather than pay too much attention to the reviews. We are a small boutique hotel and I always find the smaller the operation the easier it can be to deliver the best for our guests.

"TripAdvisor is a double-edged sword, it is what it is - but our reviews, I find are truthful and very genuine."

"This is marvellous - for us to be in this particularly on a UK basis and given the scale of the hotels we are among - I'm delighted."

While London dominates the top 25 UK list, Northern Ireland does get a second appearance with the Bushmills Inn coming in at number 23.

"The perfect getaway," said one guest in their review on TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor spokeswoman Hayley Coleman added: "Unlike other hospitality awards, these are based on feedback from actual guests over the past year, which is what makes them so prized within the industry.

"With rooms at winning hotels notorious for selling out shortly after our annual announcement, travellers wishing to experience these world class hotels for themselves will need to book quickly if they want to find out why they earned such rave reviews throughout the year from fellow travellers."

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