“ Address: 15 Culmore Road / Derry / BT48 8JB / N Ireland / Tel: 028 7127 9111 „
Londonderry or Derry (as it is also known) is a growing city in the north west of Northern Ireland, and with the Millenium Forum theatre in the city centre, offering some great shows, it has become a place where we frequent more and more. Recently the Sound of Music theatre production was on in Londonderry, and this was when we noticed that a few hotels in the city were offering bed and breakfast packages which included your tickets for the show. After trying several hotels, some of which didn't have the courtesy to phone back with any details, I found that the most efficient and helpful of them all was the Da Vinci's Ramada Hotel, which is situated not far from the Strand Road area of Londonderry or Derry, about 1 mile from the city centre. We paid £69 each for bed and breakfast and our theatre ticket, and we thought this was excellent value. Since I had booked this over the telephone months in advance, I realised a few weeks prior to us going on our little weekend trip, I didn't have any confirmation in writing about the reservation or in fact a reservation number. I like to have things in writing or at least something, so I phoned them a few weeks prior to our stay. The receptionist at the other end of the phone was extremely pleasant, and was able to call up my reservation from my name and then give me a reservation number, which I felt happier having. We arrived at the hotel late afternoon. The hotel is not actually visible from the road, but it is well signposted, and it is only a stone's throw from the actual road, just tucked in behind other buildings. Do not be expecting a hotel that will offer you exceptional views, particulary over the River Foyle, as instead you will probably overlook the carpark, like we did. We weren't in our room all that long, so we weren't too bothered. From the outside the hotel looks very classy and modern, and there is ample free car parking. Adjoined to the actual hotel, is their own bar and restaurant, which is a very popular choice for parties and hen weekends, as we found out. We parked the car and headed through the revolving doors to the reception desk, which is located in a large, modernly styled lobby, with lots of space. There were several receptionists on at the time, and although I had a reservation number, I actually didn't need it, as they simply used our surname to call up the reservation. At that point they handed us our theatre tickets as well. At the time of booking, I hd requested that our tickets be either on the ground floor or not too high up, as my husband isn't keen on heights. The theatre seats proved to be an excellent choice, and we were both very ver happy with were we were seated. THe room we were allocated was on the fourth floor, and there was a rather useful lift to transport you up the levels. THroughout the corridors of the hotel, everything was very clean, warm and modern. Our room was a lot larger than I had anticipated, and very modern. THe bed must have been a super king size, as there would have been enough room for a family to sleep on it. As well as a flat screen TV, there was a desk, and a couple of comfy armschairs. We also had a huge window, although as I said earlier, it overlooked the carpark. The bathroom was also modern, with a combined bath and shower. THere were plenty of complimentary toilets on hand, of good quality, which I ound useful, as I had forgotten to pack a couple of things. THere was also an ample amount of towels as well, which was a plus, as I had found other hotels ot skimp on towels. THe room also housed a pull out ironing board, although we never made use of it. There were only 2 negatives for me about the room. Firstly, there were no tea or coffee making facilities in the room, and being in this part of the world, a cup of tea is something most people look forward to. I looked the guest directroy book in case these facilities were available on request but there was no mention of this. THe only thing in the room was two bottles of wine, which you had to pay for. THe other negative of the room, was that I did think the bed was very hard. Now, I don't normally ever comment on a bed, but I did wake several times during the night feeling my back sore and stiff, and I really throught the bed was just too hard. At the weekend, there are extended breakfast hours, which suited extremely well, as nobody wants to get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning. On a Saturday and Sunday, breakfast is served in the restaurant until 10.30 a.m.. When you arrive in the breakfast room, your room number is taken, and you are then allocated a table. YOu are then given the choice of tea or coffee which is brought to your table by a waitress. Everything else is a self service buffet, and there was a huge amount to choose from, and it was continually restocked the entrie time we were there, which was no easy feat, given that there were approximately 3 hen parties staying that weekend, with large groups to feed. THere was a choice of several juices including cranberry, apple and orange, and then a choice of cereals. THere were several toasters in operation with brown or white bread available. THere was also some small pastries to choose from, as well as little mini croissants (which were delicious). For those wanting some fruit, there was a choice of grapefruit and orange segments (although these were from tins). You could then pick from a choice of hot breakfast, all of which was kept warm in heated dishes with lids. On offer was scrambled egg, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, potato bread, black pudding and sausage. Although I thought some of the food was a little on the greasy side, it was really delicious, so much so that neither my husband nor I could even take toast with our breakfast as we were feeling very full. Checkout wasn't until noon, and there is an added option of having an extended checkout, although you wil be charged for this. We found checkout very simple and straightforward. THere were complimentary newspapers on offer at the desk, which took fro the journey home. At all times, staff were extremely professional and friendly, and asked if we enjoyed our stay. I could not fault a single member of staff, from reception, to the cleaners to the wait staff - all were friendly and helpful. I also have to make one final comment. When we realised there were 3 hen parties staying at the hotel on the same evening as ourselves, we were concerned about the noise, but I can honestly say that we never heard a thing all night, and I would be easily woken by such noises, so this is a real plus point for the hotel, that they either made sure to keep such parties away from other paying guests in different floors or the hotel, or the rooms were well soundproofed. All in all, apart from the lack of tea and coffee facilities, and hard bed, I was very happy with our stay, and very impressed and would certainly recommend it to others.