Menzies Hotel, Irvine

November 20, 2013 in Accessibility, Days Out, Breaks and Holidays, Dining Out, Gluten Free

Everybody loves a night away don’t they? The thing is you want to make sure that you are getting your money’s worth wherever you end up. I know I do. Whether we are going away for a night or a fortnight I am never fully at ease until we’ve parked, checked in and seen the bedroom. At that point you can get a pretty good idea of where you are staying and if it’s been worth parting with your hard earned cash.

For us staying in a hotel is a bit more complicated than it used to be. We need to make sure that the room is accessible and that my gluten free diet can be catered for when it comes to meals. The thing is that some hotels claim to have accessible rooms but when it comes down to it it’s not a wetroom and that’s what I really need. So you see we look at hotels a bit differently now. We need to make sure that our stay will be safe as well as fun!

We were lucky enough to be asked to review the Menzies Hotel in Irvine recently. So last weekend we trundled down the coast to check out this hotel. I must admit my first priority (correctly or otherwise) was to get connected to the hotel wifi so I could watch the Man U vs Arsenal game on Sky Go. I hoped the hotel’s wifi would stand up to the test and so it was this that filled my mind as we drove down the motorway rather than what our room might be like.

We arrived safely and found a Blue Badge Holders’ parking spot close to the main door. We immediately noticed though that there was no lowered kerb by the parking bay, not ideal. In fact there is a small, fashioned ramp nearer the door of the hotel but that does mean you have to go along the road in the car park to get to it. It’s not far but it’s not ideal either.

Anyway we arrived at reception to a very friendly welcome. We were given our room key as well as the chance to book for dinner. I was delighted to see that the free wifi code was attached to our documentation – Sky Go here we come!

Our room was situated a fair distance down the hallway. This was great for us as I had my wheelchair but if I’d been trying to walk in, I’d never have made it. Perhaps this is something that hotels need to consider, that an accessible room should be accessible by all. Anyway, I digress. Our room was big and roomy and very clean. There was plenty space for me to use my wheelchair and the en-suite bathroom was a brilliant size too.

Bedroom

The bedroom was very comfortable although we couldn’t figure out how to get the heating on…nothing we tried resolved this. We could have phoned and asked for help but there was a wee stand alone heater in the room so we just plugged that in, logged on to the wifi and watched the football. The internet connection was good, only buffering a few times, and best of all it was free AND we didn’t have to ask for it!

The bathroom was a wet room and looked well kitted out, with plenty of space, a movable seat and handrails available to assist in the shower.

bathroom

It wasn’t until I actually tried the shower that I noticed the problem. The rail which holds the chair to the wall was loose. In fact it was coming away from the wall. I’m not the biggest person in the world and yet I really didn’t feel secure. In fact I was terrified I would fall. It was such a shame as this room could have been ideal for me. I sent hubby to have a look and he said he “wouldn’t sit on that chair”. Disappointing to be honest.

Despite the issue in the bathroom this was a really great room. I particularly liked the inclusion of a fan and a heater for our use. Yes, I would have liked to be able to figure out the heating itself, but at least we had some control over the room temperature.

What about the dinner then? How was the gluten free diet catered for? Well, they were quite simply brilliant! I was given my own gluten free version of the daily menu, as well as a gluten free version of the A La Carte. That, in itself, is brilliant as you know exactly where you stand and you don’t have to have numerous conversations with the waiting staff running to and from the kitchen to check up on ingredients. What made it particularly good was the fact that the gluten free menu was very much like the “normal” menu. It was designed so that each dish was whole, not “well you can have the chicken without the sauce”, and well rounded.

The next great step was gluten free bread. Hubby was given hot, fresh rolls and to be honest I didn’t really expect anything, I am quite used to not having bread. However the waitress brought out two hot, gluten free rolls for me! BRILLIANT! It was such a nice touch and really appreciated.

There was so much choice for me that it took me a while to decide but in the end I had…

Flaked Smoked Salmon & Blush Tomato Tian

Grilled Rump Steak with Salad

Toffee Sponge

It was absolutely gorgeous! Couldn’t fault any of it. The waiter did admit that the toffee sponge wasn’t home made but really, who cares, it was a gluten free dessert! It wasn’t the only one either, there was a choice!

As for hubby, well he can eat whatever he likes and so he went for..

Salad of Crispy Pork Belly & Black Pudding

Chicken Breast, wrapped in Pancetta, with Dijon Mustard Sauce

Pear & Almond Sundae with Chocolate Ice Cream

It’s fair to say he loved his meal too! We had great plans of taking photos of every course but, erm, we kind of forgot! So here’s a selection of the photos we DID manage to take.

dinner

Dinner was followed by coffee in the lounge. Hubby had a Gaelic Coffee with homemade shortbread, and I had a cafetiere with GLUTEN FREE Millionaire’s Shortbread! I was stunned; they’d thought of everything! I didn’t miss out on any part of the meal and it was brilliant; it felt really special. We chilled in the lounge with our coffee and nibbles and watched the Barcelona game on the TV…yeah they had Sky Sports! For us it was the perfect end to the perfect meal.

I was very impressed with the attention to detail when it came to my meal. It has made me realise how lacking other places are when it comes to dealing with special dietary requirements. So, stuffed with food, we went to bed and, aside from a short fire alarm at 11pm, we had a perfectly peaceful night.

I actually wasn’t convinced I even needed breakfast but it would have been rude not to! There was quite a spread with porridge (with optional whisky) , cereals, fruits, cooked breakfast items and, finally, pastries. As a buffet style breakfast I wasn’t sure what was suitable for me but a very helpful waitress came over to help. She even went away and got fresh bacon with fresh tongs and did me a fresh egg so as to reduce any risk of contamination. Again, I was really impressed! Not many people think to bring you fresh food, let alone fresh tongs to serve them with! Brilliant. What’s more some freshly toasted slices of gluten free bread appeared. I felt completely spoiled, it was fantastic!

We really enjoyed our stay in Irvine and would go back. In fairness to the hotel we didn’t mention the issue with the wet room seat. It wasn’t intentional, we had meant to but totally forgot as we checked out. The service we received was fantastic and the food was great. I’d go back for the gluten free menu alone! One small thing I’d have liked to see more of is local produce. They serve Isle of Arran ice cream, but perhaps some Isle of Arran ales would also be a nice touch? Or local biscuits in the bedrooms instead of “generic” coffee biscuits? Like I say, it’s a small thing but it would add to the individuality of the hotel.

Thank you to Menzies Hotels who asked us to review this hotel and gave us complimentary dinner, bed and breakfast. We have been completely honest in our review of the hotel. Any opinions expressed are entirely our own.