“ Address: 6 Ardgowan Square / Greenock PA16 8NG / Scotland / Telephone: 44 (0)1475 723316 „
My family is split between Northern Ireland and Scotland. So some family gatherings take a bit more effort to get to than others. Last weekend some of the Northern Irish side of the family made the journey over to Scotland for Grannie Douglas' 80th Birthday party in Greenock. The location for the party (well I'm saying 'party' but it was actually just a big dinner) and also the place where we stayed for one night, was the Tontine Hotel in Greenock.
A quick bit of information for those of you who aren't familiar with Greenock; it's a reasonably large town that lies on the banks of the River Clyde on the West coast of Scotland. It's about 20 miles west of Glasgow and used to be famous for shipbuilding.
Right, back to the matter in hand. I'd been to the Tontine Hotel before, for the very same Grannie Douglas' (and Granpa Douglas) Ruby Wedding Anniversary. But this was in 1989 and I was only 10 years old, so I didn't really remember much about it before going again this time. Ok, let's begin...
*** Getting There & General Info***
I'm not very good with directions so I'm not even going to try to describe how you get to the hotel, but there are extensive directions at the hotels website using this link http://www.tontinehotel.co.uk/en/directions.html but I can tell you that the journey from Glasgow International Airport only takes about 30 - 40 minutes by car at a non rush hour time. There is parking available right outside the hotel on the street or you can use their privately owned car park at the rear of the hotel. The Greenock town centre is a mere 5 minute walk in one direction and the riverside Esplanade is only 2 minutes away in the opposite direction.
If you are anti large faceless hotel chains you may be interested to know the Tontine is the largest independently owned hotel in the Inverclyde area.
*** Check In & Rooms ***
Checking in took no time at all, with the usual credit card details required plus a couple of signatures, and then the key card was handed over (wake up calls and morning papers were also offered).
Me and my wife were staying in one of their 52 bedrooms, an executive double to be precise. It was all very much as you'd expect, one double bed, two bedside cabinets, an arm chair, a desk, a wardrobe, a few drawers, and a table. It had a small telly, hairdryer, iron, trouser press (nice), tea and coffee making facilities (including complimentary custard creams) and internet connection capabilities. The room could probably do with a bit of an update to freshen it up, the décor is beginning to look a bit dated, but the room was clean, including the bed sheets and that's the main thing. I was slightly annoyed by the television because connection at the back of it was a bit dodgy and I kept on losing the picture on Sky Sports News when I was looking up the football scores, but it wasn't a big problem (I've been informed that everyone else's televisions worked fine). The en suite bathroom was a decent enough size; it had a bath with a shower attached to the wall and was clean if a little dingy. There were plenty of nice white towels and lots of complimentary toiletries.
Room service is available 24 hours a day.
There is a selection of double, twin, and family rooms available, plus a honeymoon suite. The hotel has six different function rooms of various shapes and sizes and caters for weddings, funerals, christenings, meetings or whatever other functions you may have in mind. Unlike the décor in the bedroom, the function rooms are very well presented and completely modern.
*** Food & Drink ***
I only stayed for one night so can only comment on the food that was served at the birthday dinner and the following morning's breakfast. The food at the dinner was of excellent quality. The sirloin steak that I had was cooked just as I like it and was very tender, and there were lots of vegetables provided (if you like that kind of thing). A sample menu of what they have on offer is available on the hotel website: http://www.tontinehotel.co.uk/en/samplemenus/dinnermenu.html
The staff were very efficient and friendly, plus there was no problem getting some last minute additional items that weren't on the set menu for some fussy eaters.
There is a small bar and lounge on the ground floor near the front reception which stocks a variety of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. One round of drinks consisting of 2 pints of lager and 3 cokes cost £8.80. That seems pretty reasonable to me. It was quite relaxing to sit in this little lounge area on the Sunday afternoon. You can order a 3 course Sunday lunch for £12.95 and either eat it in the bar lounge or in the dining room. Menu at this link:
The breakfast is served from 7.30 to 9.30 on weekdays and 8.00 to 10.00 at the weekend. As you'd expect, you can choose from a variety of different breakfasting options. The hot and cold food is set up in a serve yourself buffet so you can help yourself to as much as you like of what you fancy. There is bacon, sausage, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, fried egg, scrambled egg, croissants, rolls, different cereals and yogurts, toast, juice, tea and coffee, plus some other things that I've no doubt forgotten. I really liked the flexibility of the breakfast, as I could make myself a bacon roll, then have a bowl of cereal, then a toasted sausage sandwich (with the tomato sauce provided as standard) and then a little yogurt for breakfast dessert. No need for lunch!
*** Prices & Special Offers ***
The standard rate for a double/twin room is £80 per night, and a single room is £65 per night (other rates are available for family rooms and premier suites). This includes all taxes and a full Scottish breakfast. At the moment there is a Weekend Bargain Break rate of £70 per night for a double room (Friday, Saturday or Sundays) or £60 for a single room per night. This is a fairly average price for a 3 star hotel, as a Saturday night stay at the Premier Inn in Greenock for two people in a double room with fully breakfast would cost £69. Bearing in mind the excellent location of the Tontine, I'd say it's worth the extra pound.
*** Overall Impression ***
If you're looking for a simple bed to sleep in and don't need any meals at your hotel, including breakfast, then you would get better value for money from a larger chain hotel like the Premier Inn. You would probably also get a slightly more modern room décor (and television). However, there's a good chance you'll be located in the middle of nowhere, and won't be dealt with friendly staff that'll stop and talk to you to find out how you're enjoying your stay and help you out with useful local information.
Basically I'd recommend it. It's battling against the corporate big boys, but its prices are still competitive. It provides first class dining, you get a traditional friendly Scottish service, and it's in a great location in Greenock.
See www.tontinehotel.co.uk for more information.
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