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Museum of Free Derry (inside). 3003JM16
Museum of Free Derry (inside). 3003JM16
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TripAdvisor - the online travel guide that’s gospel for globetrotters. And it could become even more important for Derry and the North West in the months ahead, with an influx of vistors expected for City of Culture year in 2103. The reviews can be scathing, so how will we fare? Journal reporter DAVID WILSON takes a look at how the city’s doing so far.

It’s now as common as checking your passport is in date, or packing the sun cream. Getting the latest hints, tips and advice from online travel guide TripAdvisor has become an integral part of holiday planning for millions of travellers across the globe.

Launched only a decade ago, the global travel advice site - which relies on ‘user generated’ comment and reviews - now boasts some 50 million unique users a month.

“TripAdvisor is undisputedly the best option when travelling anywhere in the world - the name is tantamount to quality,” says travel writer Shannen Doherty.

Chances are you’ve had a look yourself before heading off on your hols, maybe used it to pick a hotel, a resort, a restaurant or what to do and see when you get there. TripAdvisor offers a snapshot - or many snapshots - of what you can expect to find.

“Make TripAdvisor your first destination when planning your next holiday,” the company boasts online. “Our free destination guides collect helpful traveller suggestions and photos to guide you.”

In theory the site hands holiday reviews over to travellers and holiday makers. What Trip Advisor offers is real accounts from real people who have been there done - there’s no glossy brochure hype on this website.

What that means is that people who are thinking of coming to Derry or the North West next year are no doubt already checking us out online. And that puts the spotlight on what the reviewers are saying online about our hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other attractions.

If you were planning a stay on the banks of the Foyle, the site ranks some 12 hotels, 32 B&Bs and 17 holiday rentals.

Praise . . .

Amidst the myriad of hotel reviews the Belfray Country Inn takes top honours - getting a top five star rating from almost 60 reviews - ahead of the Everglades and Beech Hill hotels.

Amongst the positive reviews for the Belfray there’s the words of Mareazles, from Sydney, Australia, who tells of a “wonderful stay” at the Drumahoe Hotel.

“Highly recommend The Belfray. Clean, spacious and outrageously friendly and helpful staff. Nothing was too much trouble,” the Australian traveller wrote of a stay just last month.

It’s testament to the influence of TripAdvisor that some hotel managers now feel the need to respond to guests’ quibbles on the site

For those more at home in a B&B, seven hostelries in and around the city get the top rating from travellers - with Troy Hall rated Derry’s best bed and breakfast.

Carrie J from Idaho, US, is the most recent online reviewer.

“My son and I stayed at Troy Hall for three nights during our tour of Ireland last month. The Hall is a wonderfully updated manor house and it was such a delight to stay in, such a lovely and spacious room complete with bathrobes and slippers,” she wrote on July 5.

“There was a deluge of rain one of our three days in Derry but we were quite comfortable spending the day inside catching up on our reading and sleep. If I ever return to Ireland, Troy Hall will be at the top of my list for places to stay.”

When you’ve sorted where to stay you’ll want to know what to do and where to eat.

The site lists some 94 ‘things to do in Derry’ - with the five star Museum of Free Derry ranking as the city’s best visitor attraction.

“You must go,” wrote Linda from Minneapolis in late June. “You owe it to yourself to visit this museum, which tells the true story of Bloody Sunday.”

The City Walls, Free Derry Tours, the Tower Museum and Free Derry Corner make up the top five visitor attractions.

Maiden Heaven tops the list of city eateries - “Would highly recommend a visit to this delightful restaurant” says NG from Chicago - ahead of Quaywest, Fitzroy’s and Cafe Del Mondo.

Check it out for yourself online and maybe put in your own review at www.tripadvisor.co.uk