“ Address: Coast Road / Ballygally / County Antrim / BT40 2QZ / Northern Ireland „
We were attending a conference in the Hotel but decided to stay overnight the evening before. As we drove up the Hotel looked really impressive with its towers and turrets and it really stood out in the small town. Its a pity you can't really see it in the photo supplied.
- - The Hotel - -
The Ballygally Castle is the only 17th Century building in Northern Ireland still being used as a residence today.
The information on the website states that "Ballygally Castle was built in 1625 by James Shaw and his wife Isabella Brisbane. Over the main entrance door to the Castle, leading to the tower is the inscription "1625 - GOD.IS.PROVIDENS.IS.MY.INHERITANS". Above this is a shield with the coats of arms of the Shaw and Brisbane families and the letters J.S and I.B. which represented their initials".
When the castle was built it was with defence in mind. They used mostly stone and designed it with high walls and corner turrets. Today it has been extended and modernized to make it into the luxury accommodation Hastings Hotels are known for.
- - Reception - -
As we entered the foyer and headed towards Reception there was a really welcoming feel. Dotted around were large comfy armchairs and as we approached the large reception desk, we were greeted warmly and had our pass cards in less than a minute.
- - Rooms - -
We immediately headed upto our rooms to leave off our overnight bags before retiring to the bar area. The rooms were accessed easily by the passcards. On opening the door the first thing I noticed was the impressive 32" LCD TV mounted on the wall, the second thing was the bed. It was one of those six feet wide superkings and I have never slept on anything so comfortable.
Being unused to having a bed to myself as mine normally has hubby in it and anywhere between one and three kids and to make the most of it I lay vertically, horizontally and at any other angle I could manage and it was heavenly. The room was toasty warm and with the bed having a quilt and a cover I managed to forego the fleece pj top and just wear the tshirt and bottoms.
There was a small table with two tub chairs, a wardrobe, two bedside tables and a dressing table with large mirror. Even with the six foot bed and all this furniture the room still felt very spacious.
The ensuite was white and the shower was over the bath. A nice counter top for the sink which had a very large mirror above it and lots of lovely white company goodies was a pleasure to use. The bathroom was large and clean but admittedly the grout was starting to look a little dark and unpleasant which I wouldn't have expected from a four star hotel.
The Hotel offers
18 Double Rooms
12 Twin Rooms
1 Triple Room
6 Family Rooms
5 Executive Rooms
- - Bar Area - -
We went down to the bar area for a late supper of soup, toasted sandwiches and tray bakes which were delicious, fresh and hot. The accompanying large tureen of mulled wine kept us going for about an hour the price for all this was £12.00 a person. A nightcap was then in order and my pint of Magners was £3.40 which seems reasonable for a Hotel.
The bar itself was beautiful, there were open fires, large armchairs and high coffee tables to sit around. It resemble someones living room more than a normal bar and was very relaxing and a lovely way to spend an hour or two. There were only a few tables and armchairs in a large area which gives a more upmarket feel when you are sitting there as its not designed for crowds of drunken young uns.
- - Dining Room - -
The Dining Room was again well designed with quite an old fashioned feel. For breakfast there was a buffet which supplied several jugs of different juices, museli, cereal, porridge, full irish fry including mushrooms and black and white pudding, cheese and ham.
There was a large bottle of whisky sitting on the breakfast buffet table and a sign above it invited you try a shot of traditional whisky with your porridge - I know the irish are know for their hard drinking habits but admittedly this is the first time I have ever seen a bottle of whisky on a breakfast buffet.
Lunch was another buffet and not being one to miss out I heaped on chips, rice, beef in pepper sauce and chicken chausseur. The meal was very tasty although I have had better peppered beef and was happy that I wouldn't be paying for it.
- - Conference Room - -
The small Conference Room was in one of the towers and was well laid out and the iced water jugs were constantly filled throughout the day. Internet access was by a code and cost £12 for 24 hours per laptop. Tea, coffee, scones with cream and home-made strawberry jam and traybakes were provided at 10:30 and 3:00 in the bar.
When we requested an extension lead and screen from Reception they were supplied quickly with a smile from the Manager.
The toilets outside the conference area were clean and had the appropriate names of knights and maidens.
- - The ghost - -
One of the most well known things about this Hotel is that there is a ghost which has been seen and heard by many staff and guests. It is rumoured that the ghost is that of Lady Isobella Shaw, who was the wife of Lord James Shaw. Once she had delivered his heir it is believed that he locked her in the tower and kept the child. She is thought to have either jumped to her death from a broken heart or that she was thrown from the tower window.
You can actually mount the very steep stone spiral staircase and visit the bedroom she was locked in at the top of one of the towers. We refused to do it in the evening before bed, but after a hearty breakfast and even without the whisky offered we made our way up the tower. The bedroom is kept as it would have looked hundreds of years ago with the thick walls, tiny windows and old pictures on the wall. The room felt icy cold compared to the remainder of the hotel and there was a slight shock when you walk in to find that there is a body shape under the blankets on the old bed.
We all had a poke at it and it didn't move so that was a relief. At this stage all the girls admitted to having slept the previous evening with at least one light on, the men denied that they did but we can't prove that.
I don't know whether we were relieved or disappointed that we hadn't felt a presence.
- - Parking - -
There is free parking opposite the Hotel on the seafront.
- - Nearby Attractions - -
Glens of Antrim
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
This is a delightful and historic hotel with a warm welcome and very comfortable surroundings the mix of old and new was beautifully done and with the views of the sea and comfortable bar area I would have no problem with recommending it providing you have transport to get out and about as there is very little in Ballygally itself.
Overall a homely feeling and lovely staff. Its nice to stay somewhere unusual even if you do have to sleep with the light on.
Room prices from £120 per night including breakfast.
This 4 star hotel offers 44 beautiful bedrooms and many of the castle's original features and antique furnishings. Situated on the scenic Antrim coast just 26 miles from Belfast.