Lovely location, problems with dinner reservations A review of Carlton Hotel & C Spa Kinsale

my partner booked the Carlton for us for a romantic night away. we know the Kinsale area quite well and found the road sign for the hotel quite confusing. it is on the right hand side of the road and appears to be pointing towards kinsale itself, whereas the sign is supposed to indicate a left turn, the sign is positioned just after the left turn.

there is a lovely long drive lined with broadleaf trees into the hotel which we thought was lovely. as it is still a very new hotel parts of the road still need to be covered with tarmac, but i imagine that will be done in time.

the location of the Carlton is magnificent - panoramic views of the bay all around. there is a water feature just outside the hotel - a waterfall with a small little japanese garden style wooden bridge in front of it. it would be perfect for wedding photos. the lobby of the hotel is very spacious and contemporary, i was very impressed with the view out onto the bay.

the receptionist was courteous and as we were checking in at around 5.30 pm my partner asked to make a dinner reservation. we were told that the restaurant was fully booked but that we could get bar food if we liked. Bar food on a romantic night away? Not good enough! Especially considering it was Valentine's weekend and were hotel residents paying a full room rate for the night!

my partner asked was there any possibility that we could be squeezed into the restaurant as there were only two of us. Another receptionist told him in a quite matter-of-fact tone that the restaurant was only open to hotel residents who had booked a 2 night package, with dinner included.(i thought that this meant people who had booked a Valentine's weekend package, but we met another couple we knew there who told us they had booked 2 nights on a SuperValu break which is a heavily discounted hotel break, and we were paying full price- 160 euro for the night incl. breakfast)

When booking the room with the hotel directly it was never mentioned that we would not be able to eat in the hotel when booking for one night and we could have made alternative arrangements.

my partner asked the original receptionist if she could recommend a nice restaurant in Kinsale. we were given some recommendations, the receptionist jotted down the names and telephone numbers and told us there was a shuttle bus service into Kinsale from the hotel. She was apologetic about the fully booked hotel restaurant but did not offer to ring around for us.

We went to our room. the room itself was very spacious and contemporary. there was plenty of light coming into the room and we had a lovely view of the bay. The bedlinen is new and the pillows and duvet were plump and exceptionally comfortable. there is a lovely walk around the hotel overlooking the bay - unfortunately our room was located on the ground floor so the promenade passed right outside our bedroom so we had to close the curtains for any element of privacy. the bathroom was big and had a bath and separate shower. the room had all the necessary mod cons - tea and coffee making facilities, tv, good hairdryer.

However, given our treatment at reception both of us were quite cross. We rang the restaurants from our mobiles and they were booked out. my partner went to reception again and told them our predicament. this time the receptionist actually contacted the restaurant. he was told that we could either go for dinner now straight away or we could go at 9.30pm. he opted for the latter as we wanted to freshen up first.

we arrived for dinner at 9.20pm and were surprised to find the restaurant half full (or half empty, depending on how you look at it) the staff were really nice and friendly. we were given an a la carte menu, with prices, so surely people who were not on a "dinner included" package and were staying in the hotel could eat in the restaurant? All very confusing! i liked the wine list and the service was prompt. the food was nice, not outstanding and we enjoyed ourselves. Our bill came to approximately 101 euro.

the next morning breakfast was again in the restaurant where we had been the night previously. there is a buffet style breakfast - steel containers of rashers, sausages etc. with heavy steel covers which are quite awkward to manage. it would have been nicer if the food was freshly cooked. there was a large selections of cereals, fruit juices, dried fruits, fresh fruit salads, cheeses, cured meats and danish pastries. the staff were friendly and brought tea/coffee to our tables and toast also.

my partner went to the leisure centre part for a swim and a sauna and enjoyed it.

we had been looking forward to a nice romantic night away and after we had sorted out the glitches ourselves, we had a great time. however given that our night away cost around 260 euro in total, i felt that this was bad value and we should have been looked after.

Reviewed by
Carlton Hotel & C Spa Kinsale
333 reviews