Friday 27th April, 2018

Comfort Hotel Portrush

I arrived into Portrush, after a journey from Belfast to Londonderry on the M2 Motorway. Having seen Londonderry I was attracted by the A2 highway around the coast back to Belfast. After passing through many scenic areas, cascading waterfalls from mountains, windswept beaches, and quaint old Irish villages, I tumbled across Portrush, not far from Londonderry, and probably about one-and-a-half hour's drive from Belfast. The town is known for it's busy harbour, Fantasy Island, Dunluce Centre, Waterworld, and Barry's Amusements. It has wide open beaches, and local attractions include the Giants Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Carricka Rede Rope Bridge, and the Old Bushmills Distillery. I came across the Comfort Hotel Portrush driving through, and around the town. It was perched high up on an open reserve, with what seemed like panoramic views out over the ocean. It looked like an older hotel that had been refurbished, and it was. It was originally the Antrim Arms hotel in the 1800s, There's a Portrush Countryside Centre in front of the hotel at the seafront. This was originally the Portrush Baths, which, although open to the general public, it was mainly for guests at the Antrim. The hotel was modernised in 1884, and bathrooms were built into the rooms, so the use of the Baths fell away.The hotel changed it's name to the Northern Counties Hotel, until now when it has been restored with funding assistance from the Northern Ireland Tourism Board, in conjunction with the European Union, and has been re-established as the Comfort Hotel Portrush. I found it a wonderful hotel. 50 rooms, 24 hour reception. I breezed into the reception to check availability, as I had no booking. The receptionist said the property was heavily booked, but a room was available. The rate was 39 pounds including breakfast. I took the room, and cheekily asked if there was a room with a sea view. At first she said no, but then working her computer she came up with what was her last seaview room, Room 218. I then gathered my luggage from the car and returned to reception to the lift. The lift too had been restored with a brand new cage, digital controls and a voice to narrate the ride. I went to the second floor, and a short distance away was Room 218. I entered the room, and after a short hallway, it opened to a very large area, housing a double bed and two singles, obviously a family room. There were two large windows overlooking the Atlantic ocean, both you could open to let in fresh air. It was a cold and blistery night, so there was no need for cold air. There were two radiators in the room and they worked perfectly. The carpet was a dark green pattern, with matching bedspreads and drapes in pastel colours. The light coloured timber furnishings included a work desk/dresser with good sized mirror and lamp on top, a TV with local and BBC channels and TCM, which provided non-stop movies. The bench had one small drawer, in which I found a hairdryer.. There were bedside tables, one each side of the double, and one beside each of the single beds. There was an occasional table with two chairs. Both white pages and yellow pages telephone books were supplied. There were bedside lamps above each of the sleeping positions, two fine prints, an open wardrobe with 2-door-width hanging space, luggage rack a little above ground level, and a third section with shelving, which included a tray of tea and coffee-making facilities, and a pack of complimentary biscuits. The views from the room were excellent, there was plenty of space, and the furnishings tastefully done. It really was a treat. There was a full size mirror on one of the walls, and additional lighting. The bathroom consisted of a full-size bath/shower combined, with excellent shower head and controls, which worked perfectly. There was a toilet of course, and a vanity, which had adequate bench space. The room was well lit, with plenty of towelling, glasses, and guest amenitiy (soap, shampoo/conditioner) dispensers.

I tried to connect to the Internet, but alas there was no data port on the phone, or separate port. I found a data port though beside where the phone connected, but the phone connections in the UK differ from most other places, and I needed a lead. I tried to get one from the all-night receptionist, but although he tried hard to find one, no luck. I had to wait until the day recepetionist came in at 7:30am, which did, but unfortunately she didn't have one either, and admitted she'd not been asked for one before. The hotel Internet was down so I was left in complete limbo as far as Internet access was concerned. After settling in I decided to take a walk before dinner, and check out a local bar. There were a couple of options along the way, a cinema was only about 30 metres from the hotel, and there were some very good restaurants. I checked out the menu for the Spinnaker restaurant, and thought I might return there later. I then went back in the other direction, and to my surprise discovered a great bar and restaurant in the hotel. The bar was split over three levels, and had Fosters, and Budweiser on tap, as well as local beers, and an assortment of cocktails, spirits and soft drinks. The bar was quite busy, as was the restaurant. It was excellently laid out, with a big screen showing the latest sports. The service was excellent, and the staff friendly. Later, after a couple of half-pint Budweisers, I ventured to the restaurant, and was about to leave and head back for the Spinnaker, as the hotel looked completely booked. A waitress caught my eye though, almost as though she knew what I was thinking, and hastily indicated she would find a table immediately, which she did. I ordered a potato and leek soup, and a lamb burger. The burgers were sold out, so I settled for a rump steak, with a side of fries. The meal was presented in good time, and was delicious. The service again was very good, and the cost was 2.45 pounds for the soup, 9.95 for the steak, 2.25 for the side of fries, and 2.95 for a quarter bottle of wine. The hotel sells quarter as well as half bottles of wine (red, white and rose) with dinner, so a quarter bottle worked out fine.

Breakfast in the morning also came up to expectations, with a fine buffet, which included the usual selecten of cereals and hot dishes, tea, coffee and toast. Breakfast was served from 7:30 to 10:00am. In all a pleasurable experience, and I have listed the hotel for a future stay when I return to Northern Ireland.

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