We check out Northern Ireland's ‘worst’ hotel - the under cover truth after online abuse
Reporter goes undercover at hotel called a ‘hell hole’
It has been dubbed the worst hotel in Northern Ireland by some disgruntled guests and has suffered a barrage of abuse on TripAdvisor.
Sunday Life decided it was time to check out if Portrush’s Eglinton Hotel really lived down to its terrible billing.
First thing to say is that the Eglinton is in a fantastic location in a lively part of the seaside resort town, just a stone’s throw from the famous Barry’s Amusements and award-winning West Strand beach.
On its website the hotel boasts that it’s “ideally placed to allow you to enjoy the delights of the world famous Causeway Coast” and has the rather strange caption, “Where the craic is! Why aren’t you?” emblazoned next to its name.
But, a quick glance at TripAdvisor paints a less cheery picture and reviewers have likened the 29-room hotel to a “hell hole” and a “dustbin”.
Say what you like about the Eglinton, but we got a warm welcome when we arrived - incredibly warm in fact, given the sub-zero temperatures outside.
Despite complaints that the building is freezing and damp, we walked into a very warm and perfectly clean entrance hall where the heating had been cranked up to full blast.
I had phoned a few days earlier to make a reservation for myself and a friend and was greeted with polite surprise.
“You want to book a room?” the lady asked.
You can hardly blame her given the rubbishing the hotel has received on TripAdvisor over the past few years.
TripAdvisor collates independent reviews and publishes them on its website. The Eglinton takes ninth position in a poll of hotels in Portrush....there are nine hotels in the poll!
But there is no way of verifying if the TripAdvisor critics actually stayed at the hotel and the management have not responded online to the reviews.
And some of the comments are truly damning, citing poor staff, dirty rooms and noise as the main causes for complaint.
“This is the worst hotel in Northern Ireland. Avoid at all costs, the place is dirty, smelly,” wrote one person.
“The bed sheets felt damp, floor obviously had never seen a Hoover, room was freezing with draughts,” griped another.
Judging by the majority of the comments, we felt like we are about to step into a house of horrors - no wonder we felt a little nervous as we approached reception to check in.
But we were greeted warmly by a perfectly pleasant receptionist with small talk about the cold weather and, after handing over £70 up front for a double room (it’s £80 if you fancy breakfast), we got our room key.
Up we walked to the first floor and through a set of double doors to a very dingy looking hallway - we were clearly not in the Ritz. First impressions of our room weren’t great. Someone appears to have been rather overly enthusiastic in their efforts to open the door while it was still locked and the wood is cracked. But it still worked - just!
Inside our room we were pleasantly surprised. Better smelling than the corridor, the room was roasting hot and clean. It had a double bed and a single bed, made up with clean white sheets and rather dated, but clean duvets.
The room had a dreary view overlooking a bookies but the carpets, window ledges and the bins were clean. In fact the place was spotless.
There was a flat screen TV perched on a wall that worked, a hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities. The bathroom was clean with fresh towels - so far, so good.
It is a world away from the experiences suffered by some guests who wrote: “I’m struggling to find the words that describe this hell hole, the rooms are so small, the animals in Belfast Zoo are cleaner than the rooms. The hallway is like a back street in London, with bottles and tin cans. The smell starts when you start walking up the stairs, The hallway smells like a black bin not emptied in a year.”
As it was out of season the hotel was empty and when we ventured downstairs we were the only people in the lounge bar. We headed into town for drinks and returned after midnight to find the place a little more lively.
But, while there were a few residents enjoying Friday night drinks, we didn’t experience the “unbelievable” levels of noise experienced by some guests.
One wrote on TripAdvisor: “A pub is located next door. People were in the street screaming at 3am both nights we were there. Then the drag racing started up and down the street. Got up in the morning for golf and there were two drunken, belligerent people in the lobby that wouldn’t leave.”
To our disappointment there were no rowdy guests and no Fawlty Towers-style rude staff. Every member of staff we encountered was polite and friendly!
Either we came on a very dull night or some of those reviews are highly exaggerated. Back up in the room we tested out the infamous noise levels one more time - nothing! Not a whimper. No drag racing and no street fights!
Perhaps it’s about managing your expectations. We expected very little and were pleasantly surprised. This is by no means the worst hotel I have stayed in and we are not the only ones to have enjoyed the quirky charms of the Eglinton.
Many guests have left positive reviews after enjoying a great weekend partying with friends, writing comments like, “I have stayed in many a swanky hotel, but I have to say the beds were clean, good enough for a girly night out, at 35 quid a night stay.
“We laughed our whole stay, stop crying folks, the hotel has character, the old fashioned state made it worth the stay. I felt like I was in a time warp and had a ball.”
COMPACT BUT CLEAN: Our Kim’s room at The Eglinton Hotel and (below) the broken door and view from the window
surprising experience: Kim Kelly outside Portrush’s Eglinton Hotel