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degsy70

degsy70
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Member since: 03.02.2009

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      30.07.2009 13:56
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      It wasn't until after we had made this booking that we realised the hotel was about 5 miles outside of Galway but actually this suited us perfectly. From the outside the hotel doesn't look anything like the quality that you get when you enter. Boutique hotels are all the rage now and this is arguably the nicest we have stayed in to date. After parking in the secure underground car park we buzzed the lift and immediately got our first pleasant surprise of our stay, the lift walls are leather padded! Sounds a bit S&M but it wasn't, it was tastefully done. Check in was all straight forward and we then made our way to the room.
      Another nice touch is that you have to enter a door from the main corridors into a 'waiting area' and then go into your room i.e. the door to your room doesn't open out onto the main corridor. The key cards are wireless so you just wave it near the door and it opens.
      The rooms are more than big enough and very tastefully decorated. The bathroom was uber modern and multicoloured lights added an extra special touch.
      Facilities were spot on, robes and slippers, HD TV and an actual proper coffee machine complete with real ground coffee!
      On returning from our sight seeing we found a plate of chocolate coated strawberries and flapjack on our desk together with a hand written personalised note from reception welcoming us to the hotel.
      There is a swanky bar that does food and an even swankier restaurant both very reasonably priced but we chose to eat over the road in Donnellys pub (had too many hotel dinners!).
      Breakfast the next morning was a huge Irish breakfast and a very respectable 12 euros each (ours was included in the room price which was 157 euros). We had come from the Clarence in Dublin where breakfast was 26 euros each!
      All in all a beautiful hotel in a beautiful part of the world. Highly recommended

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      30.07.2009 13:54

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      We happened upon the Woodstock Hotel on late rooms as we were looking to find somewhere nice to stay that was en route from Cork to Galway. As a result we got a very last minute deal, something like 45 euros for a room which is normally 200+. It suited us perfectly as we simply wanted a place to chill out rather than head out into Ennis.
      On arrival we were promptly checked in and found the room to be more than sufficient for our requirements (although the TV didn't work at all). It was a large room facing the back of the hotel which was fine. We made our way to the leisure centre and enjoyed a swim, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna (swimming hats are compulsory and not very flattering!), a perfect way to relax.
      Rather than using the restaurant in the hotel (which was busy with a function) we stumbled upon a bar next door in the golf club house. It was not your usual golf club bar as you were allowed to wear jeans etc. My partner had the sirloin steak and it was quite simply superb, I had a roast chicken which was also very nice (steak was 22 euros but worth it). Several pints of guinness later and then a relaxing nights sleep. Very prompt check out and we were on our way. Very nice hotel and staff. Only downside is that it is a good 10 minutes drive outside of Ennis therefore you would probably need a taxi if you wanted to venture away from the hotel

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      30.07.2009 13:50

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      On our recent trip to Ireland we stayed in a variety of hotels and on a pure price comparison this was the biggest let down. The staff were very friendly, good parking facilities, lovely lobby area but the room was a big let down. I have been in many hotels and this room was more akin to something I would find in a travel lodge next to a service station. The decor was extremely bland and there was a nasty smell of sewers. There was no air conditioning either. The bathroom was perfectly fine but I felt the rooms could have been greatly improved. We had to close all the windows to prevent the smell getting in which of course made the room hotter! I had heard good things about the hotel but if we were staying there for more than one night we would have complained. It had been refurbished quite recently but this was only the areas where first impressions count i.e. the lobby and lounge area.
      Despite being reasonably priced (in region of sixty euros) I was most disappointed.
      I have since had a response form the hotel following my complaints and they have apologised and said that they would look into the problem of the smell and have offered me a free upgrade if I choose to stay there again in the future. Unlikely.

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      15.07.2009 10:35
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      No trip to Ireland is complete without a trip to Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. This age old tradition has made the castle one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Situated not far from Cork the castle is more than just about the stone with a variety of gardens, arboretrum, rock gardens etc all of which look spectacular. The main house (not Castle) only opens in the Spring so we were unable to walk around it.
      At a cost of ten euros each you receive a useful map highlighting all the attractions within the grounds. We were in a bit of a rush so we headed straight for the stone within the castle which is only a 5 minute walk from the main entrance. Whilst climbing the many many steps to the top of the castle there are pockets of rooms to peruse detailing ancient bedrooms, kitchens etc, all empty but interesting nevertheless. The climb up is quite cramped and slippy so be warned if you are a bit claustrophobic.
      Depending on the time of your and the weather the queues can range from hours to a few minutes and we were lucky to catch a good day. The stone itself is built in to an overhanging wall and in order to kiss it you must lay on your back, lean back grasping some bars with your hand, tilt your head back and kiss the wall. There is an old timer there who's unenviable job is to help you and be warned that he likes to keep the queues moving! If you get chance I recommend you take a brief moment to look down, it's quite unnerving!
      As with most attractions there is an official photographer by the stone, I found that if you have a camera with a tilt option then it is quite easy to lean over and take the photo of your friend and then pass them the camera to take your picture (the official pics are ten euros!). The old timer and photographer will try and hurry you along but don't get flustered, you're entitled to take your own photos.
      Have I been blessed with the gift of eloquence? Who knows, but I enjoyed the experience regardless.

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      14.07.2009 15:11
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      Johnnie Fox's pub is situated in Glencullen approx 20 minutes outside of Dublin which means it is a bit of a drive up to it (it is the highest pub in Ireland!) but it's definitely worth it!
      Despite being born in Dublin I no longer enjoy visiting the city as it's lost much of its traditions and is far too cosmopolitan for me but I was over the moon to discover this little gem of a place to rekindle my love for the Irish.
      If you imagine every 'Irish themed' pub you've been into, this is nothing like it! The decor is genuinely warming and the atmosphere every night is electric. Live music is on every night (can get loud so be warned) and there's a lovely mix of diners, drinkers and music lovers.
      Although we didn't try the food it certainly looked nice (lots of seafood available) and the drinks were average priced for Dublin.
      Some lovely touches included the list of famous people who have frequented the pub including many world leaders (for some reason George Bush was on this list!) and people from the world of entertainment (although Robbie Williams was on it!?! :)) In fact the chap at the table next to us was the director of Toy Story!
      One of its most famous events is the 'Hooley' which I guess you could think of as the Irish version of an American medieval night, people feast on food and drink whilst musicians and then later on full on (Riverdance style) Irish dancing ensues. One not to miss.
      If you want a real taste of an Irish knees up then this is the place to go

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      • Clarence (Dublin) / Hotel National / 12 Readings / 12 Ratings
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        14.07.2009 11:28
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        The Clarence in Dublin relies on two important factors to generate business, firstly it was renovated in the 90s by a certain Bono from U2 and secondly it is fairly central and overlooks the River Liffey. We took the bus from Dublin airport to O'Connell Street and from their it was a 15 minute walk (with baggage) to the hotel. Myself and my partner has booked to stay here for 2 nights at a cost of 250 euros per night for a 'king size room with balcony' and were extremely excited about seeing and staying in the hotel. What a disappointment. Despite spending a fortune on the renovation, all that was achieved was a décor more akin to staying at Hogwarts. The communal areas of the hotel are very small and you almost feel like you're staying in a youth hostel. The 'Octagon Bar' was unique but again very small and very dark. We were hoping that the room would be the turning point but it was nothing more than a glorified premier inn bedroom. Yes it had the usual facilities (TV, Tea/Coffee etc) but the room was small and rather unspectacular.
        What wasn't made clear on their website was the fact that the front of the hotel overlooks the Liffey but all the balcony rooms are at the back of the hotel facing a nightclub. The balcony itself was a token bit of space and you could even look left and right into everyone else's balconies!
        Despite the price of the room, breakfast was not included and I was utterly appalled to learn that a full Irish breakfast would cost 26 euros each, that's £24 for a fry up!
        The Clarence should get rid of the penthouse suites on the top floor and open up a bar with views of Dublin for their guests to savour. Had Bono himself wandered into the Bar I would have been more interested in getting a refund than his autograph!

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        14.07.2009 11:02
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        Horoscopes is regarded by most as the finest chinese eatery in Harrogate. Stephen the owner has built a reputation for producing consistent good quality food and excellent service. Renovated two years ago, the building now has more floor space and as a result is able to cater for larger parties. On a comparison with the 'Royal Baths Chinese' restaurant in Harrogate the décor is no way near as luxurious but it is nevertheless a nice surrounding and the food is considerably better.
        Our favourite is the set meal for two (the one with a quarter of shredded crispy duck) which will fill you to the brim and is only £20 per head. They are very good at catering for large groups and will often assist in revising any of the set meals to cater for everyone's taste.
        A couple of bottles of Tsingtao and some green tea and you've had yourself a fantastic dinner. They do take outs but as expected you are paying a little more than you would in a take-away only outlet.
        P.s. if you can get a booking for the Chinese New Year it is well worth going to, the firecracker and dragon display is spectacular!

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        22.04.2009 15:41
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        BED (stands for Burnsey Eat Drink - Burnsey is the owner) in Harrogate is one of the cooler restaurants in town. The stigma attached to Harrogate is often that it is a wealthy town full of old people queuing to get to Bettys Tea Rooms but Bed dares to speak out and actually doesn't take itself too seriously. It's located on Kings Road just a stones throw from the conference centre and is split over 3 floors. It's almost worth going just to read the menus which are hilarious. One of my favourites has to be the 'Hide the Sausage' which is a dish whereby sausage meat is cooked with shallots, sage and redcurrant and then encased in a jacket potato, it's more tasty than it sounds!
        It's a very trendy but not pretentious place to eat, any place that gives you a curly wurly with the bill rather than a mint has to be worth visiting! It does a good early bird menu but with it being so close to the conference centre I would recommend you book rather than just turning up.

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          22.04.2009 13:38
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          The Orchid in Harrogate has established itself as the best Thai/Asian restaurant in the area by a country mile. Situated within the Studley Hotel it is an oasis that is hugely popular with locals who like the fact that it is hidden away from passing trade. The Studley Hotel itself is nothing to write home about but about 7 years ago the hotel was taken over by a Thai couple who set about transofrming the old run down hotel restaurant into a beautiful oriental eatery. The telling moment for me was when they first took over the hotel, it was just before Xmas and we had (for the first time ever) decided to give my Dad a Xmas day off and booked to eat at the Studley. Sadly for the new owners their chef didn't turn up on Xmas day and in fariness they weren't particularly au fait themselves with doing brussel sprouts. The result was disastrous but they wiped the bill clean (it was supposed to be about £80 per head!) but begged us to come back once the Orchid was up and running. Well we did and have been back many many times since.
          The food is of superb quality and not overly priced for what you get. The Thia Green Curry is outstanding. As with a lot of restaurants from the genre you are able to see right in to the kitchens to watch Ken and Nelson perform their magic. The staff are extremely competent and friendly. When they introduced a £10 Sunday buffet there was almost an earthquake in Harrogate with all the stampeding punters, it's a great deal.
          Avoid the hotel though unless you like really oldy worldy rooms

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          22.04.2009 13:20
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          Italian restaurants come and go like the seasons in Harrogate, few seem to get it right but Joe Rigatonis has been around for years and is still my choice. Don't get me wrong though, if I want a really nice pizza then I would probably end up in Pizza Express but for everything else i.e. pastas, pollo alla kiev etc then Jo Rigs wins hands down compared to other italians (Sassos is a popular choice but is extremely pricey for an Italian). I have an addiction to Calzone pizzas and this is the best in town.

          It is a very large restaurant (probably seats 300+) but is separated over three floors so it is still a nice ambiance. There is now some outside seating which is lovely in the summer. It is literally opposite the conference centre so is perfect for those who are in town on business.

          Staff are always very friendly. We tend to avoid it on Fri/Sat nights in the summer and definitely avoid over the Xmas period as it gets swamped with tables of 20+ who just insist on screaming at each other. Sunday nights are the best.

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          21.04.2009 12:32
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          The owners of the Jinnah curry house deserve a pat on the back for one of the biggest transformations of any restaurant I have seen both in terms of décor but also popularity. Situated on Cheltenham Mount (restaurant central in Harrogate) it is one of many indians within a 200 yard radius but it stands out a mile. They have converted an old church and have come up with a very modern but functional space. It never used to be renowned for it's food, in fact people avoided it like the plague but since the re-build they have clearly brought in new kitchen staff and have really upped their game.

          The most popular choice by far is the buffet which occurs Sunday to Thursdays and offers a superb array of dishes. For £8.95 you get a mixed sizzling starter (usual bhaji, chicken, sheesh) and then as much as you can eat buffet with meats, vegetarian dishes etc. Rice is also included (can't remember if you get a nan as well). I have been a few times and have never seen any of the serving cauldrons empty.

          I only have one gripe with the Jinnah and it is completely down to personal taste. I had asked for poppadoms and they arrived with the usual condiments. I was starving and so proceeded to hurl them into my mouth with the usual topping of onion , chutney, raita. Not long after this I started sweating and my mouth felt on fire! The raita was the culprit and must have been absolutely full of chillis. I'm not sure of this was intentional or if they had confused cucumber for chillis but it had me up all night. I'm one of those people who can't do really hot things so I suggest if you go that you do a little taste test before devouring your meal!

          All in all though a great curry.

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            21.04.2009 12:28

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            The coach and horses has been Harrogates most popular post work drinking establishment for many years. Without fail at 5pm everyday the place is packed with estate agents, lawyers, farmers, all walks of life looking to enjoy a beer and a chat. It is also very popular with women who like the fact that it is none intrusive pub where there is never any trouble brewing amongst all the testosterone!
            The beer is extremely well priced and the food is exceptional. They have a variety of themed nights, fish night, curry night and my favourite the pie & peas night (of which the proceeds all go to charity). The quiz on a Sunday night draws in over 100 people.
            If you have ever been to Harrogate you will no doubt have spotted the hoards of people that typically stand outside on the pavement along Parliament Street (the main road into the town centre) people watching. Don't get me wrong, we're not talking about louts standing outside McDonalds! It's a lovely atmosphere outside in the sun overlooking the Stray.
            Bear in mind that they are one of few pubs in Harrogate who still keep to the old drinking hours of 11pm Mon to Sat and 10:30 on a Sunday, you have been warned!

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            20.04.2009 12:58
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            The Old Bell Tavern is one of the busiest real ale pubs in the area. It is owned by Market Taverns who have approximately five pubs in the region and they have found a formula that works perfectly. For years it has been the place to go for great beer and great food. A great deal of it's popularity was due to the fact that it banned smoking nearly a year before the actual ban was enforced and thus it became a haven for non-smokers. Since then it has continued to pull in the punters and does a roaring trade.
            There is a main bar area, a side bar area and a restaurant upstairs. The bar areas downstairs are relatively small and as a result it can become extremely claustrophobic. I know many people who love the place that steer clear of it on a weekend as it is jam packed and quite uncomfortable. That said, it is a fantastic place to go for a quick lunch or evening meal. The beer is very well priced and they have a huge range of Belgian beers (the 14% cherry beer being very popular).
            The restaurant does very good homely english food but is also quite small so I recommend booking in advance.
            At the risk of sounding snobbish it is one of the more 'upmarket' pubs in the area so be warned that if you turn up looking particularly scruffy you may get turned away!.
            All in all a great pub with great atmosphere but stay away if you don't like playing sardines

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              20.04.2009 12:55
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              The Oxford Street brasserie is situated in the centre of Harrogate on Oxford Street directly above jojo Maman Bebe. Given that it is on the first floor it is hard to spot and could explain why it's not getting the passing trade that it deserves.
              Having dined there this weekend (our second visit to this establishment) I felt it very sorry for them as they have got everything right apart from the location and it's hurting them. I do not have any affiliation with people who work/own there, I'm simply a big fan of the place and think they deserve recognition.
              It is a very modern décor and I love the fact that you can see through into the kitchen, it's very reassuring. It is quite expensive which does not explain why it's not pulling in business as the quality of the food easily justifies the price. After ordering you are presented with a free mugette (my made up word for small cup) of homemade wild mushroom soup which is delicious. I had a beetroot and goats cheese salad to start (£6) which was lovely and fresh and my partner had fois gras (£7) which she said was lovely. Mains were fantastic, I had slow cooked belly of pork (with crackling) an £13 and my partner had a rump steak (£14). The first time we dined there the chef popped through and asked us if we would like flakes of chilli on our noodle based dish, I loved that!
              I have recommend this place to all my friends and sincerely hope that business picks up for them.

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              16.04.2009 09:42

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              Chez la vie is and has been for many years a very popular restaurant in Harrogate. It's success and popularity is proven by the fact that it recently was extended to cater for more diners. Situated in the town centre it is the only french restaurant of any note in the area (Café Rouge being the other - don't get me started on them!). For those of you that have read my other reviews I can tell you that the décor and atmosphere is very akin to William and Victorias wine bar, in fact a lot of the staff have been known to have worked in both places at some point in time.
              The food is normally excellent, we tend to go for the early bird dinner which is 2 courses for £11, I adore their fishcakes with hollondaise starter, my partner adores their very stodgy french onion soup (almost a meal in itself!) followed by a decent size rump steak with french fries. The key to the early bird is to stick to 2 courses and try and have soft drinks otherwise before you know it your bill is quite steep in which case you may as well have gone out for proper dinner! We tend to dine very well and come out under £30. I have heard stories of people being rushed i.e. their mains arriving as soon as their starters have finished but I guess that's somewhat inevitable with an early bird menu, my tip is to get there early so that they don't pressure you for the table.
              The a la carte menu is very good and plenty of fish/seafood to choose from.
              I've only had one dish that I was unhappy with (measely bit of steak) but it was at a table of 20 + diners at a Xmas do and I couldn't be bothered to complain.
              It does get very busy so I suggest you book in advance

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