Literally two minutes drive from Belfast International airport’s terminal building and nestled between fields of barley, this small family-owned hotel has at its heart a restored 200 year old country house.
Today, with the addition of a sympathetically designed modern wing, “The Ballyrobin”, as it is affectionately called, has a unique combination of old fashioned charm and contemporary style and efficiency. With free WiFi for residents in the bedrooms and all public areas (as well as rooms of various sizes available for meetings), it’s a very handy place to do business - but the range of rooms and services offered meets the needs of all travellers, including families, equally well.
The new rooms are offered in various combinations, including family and interconnecting, and they have triple glazing, along with air conditioning and a host of modern features that add to the comfort of a stay including underfloor heating in the bathroom and mirrors that don’t steam up.
Deluxe rooms are larger with extras (bathrobe, slippers, mineral water and free newspaper) and three charming traditional bedrooms in the old house have been retained; they have been upgraded and refurbished to match the standard of the new wing, although (as it is a protected building) they have single glazing and no air conditioning.
The reception/lounge area connects the new (on screen flight information for Belfast International Airport) with the old - where there is a turf fire, household memorabilia everywhere, and nooks and crannies for intimate dining in cosy surroundings. It makes a welcome haven for travellers who will find interesting realistically priced food with a real sense of place.
Far from the standard ‘hotel fare’ normally expected around airports, many of Northern Ireland’s top producers feature on menus - Moyallon bacon, Abernathy butter, Glenarm smoked salmon, Ballymena black pudding, Kane’s Farm rapeseed oil, Kettyle beef, Lisnaskea free range chicken…the list goes on and it is great credit to the kitchen team, especially for an all-day operation that begins at 7am with breakfast and offers a full menu from noon through to 9pm (10pm on Fri & Sat).
Vegetarian and coeliac diets are catered for, there’s a children’s menu, and an imaginative range of light bites as well as heartier fare. At the upper end, it may be a surprise to see ‘gunciale’ - the top Great Taste Awards product from Hannan Meats - showcased here, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in a dish of Roast monkfish tail wrapped in guanciale and nori seaweed, and served with crushed baby potatoes, and brown shrimp and chervil beurre noisette.
Alternatively, if you are looking for something simple, try the house special soda stack with rare breed pork sausages, free range egg and brown sauce, which is equally good of its type and fairly priced for the quality.
Reasonably priced wines are offered to match the menu, and service is casual and friendly as would be expected in the relaxed atmosphere of this amiable property. A great place to know about.