Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ireland: Best sleeps and worst

So, if you've been following my blog you know I've been testing out the B&B voucher program, sold in the U.S. by CIE Tours. For reasons too complex to explain, we didn't actually use their program, but we used only lodgings on their program, as a test.

We've now seen all five that we chose for our itinerary.

All were clean, had en-suite bathrooms and served a massive breakfast. Most were reasonably friendly; none of the B&B-keepers was nosy or invasive.

Best was actually a hotel, the Seaview House Hotel in Ballylicky. It accepts vouchers plus an additional payment (I think about 35 euros per person, though I don't have the paperwork with me.) WELL worth it.

The hotel -- run by the sister of Miami priest Father Sean O'Sullivan -- is fresh, gracious and traditional without being cloying or precious. Rooms are large and comfortable, staff terrific and friendly. We had dinner in the restaurant, and it was a treat: supremely fresh ingredients cooked in traditional ways, but simply perfect. Fish was light and beautifully prepared, the carrots were actually worth raving about.

Our entire tab for an overnight in a big room, dinner for two and a half-bottle of wine, and a huge breakfast (fresh croissants and fresh berries included!) was 248 euros ... less than I paid last month for a single night of lodging in a Maine B&B.

The least appealing place (near the town of Kinsale) featured a small room and somewhat cranky owners. They also overcharged me...something I didn't notice until later. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt -- everybody has a bad day -- and will e-mail them to let them know about the overcharge and the less-than-savory experience. And I'm going to ask them to donate the overcharge amount to charity.

If they respond in an apologetic way, I won't share their name. But if they don't, well, you can be sure I'll send you a link to their website.

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