Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay: Ireland (2005)
“The real find [in Derry] is the Merchant’s House, an 1868 townhouse built in the Georgian style and lovingly restored by Joan and Peter... They join a colourful list of previous owners who include a Justice of the Peace, a grocer, two rectors and a butcher. Edward VII is said to have had tea in the dining room where breakfast is now served round a large wooden table. The bedrooms are full of period furniture ...and the first-floor living room has the glorious generosity of the Georgian ideal.”
The Best of Britain. Northern Ireland (2009)
The Merchant’s House. “Generally regarded as one of the top B & Bs in Ireland, this historic Georgian building is about as far away from the old seaside B & Bs of yesteryear as you can get. Elegant antique furniture … marble fireplaces … and gargantuan breakfasts.”
Eyewitness Travel Ireland (2009)
The Saddler’s House. “A ten-minute walk from the city walls, cosy Saddler’s House serves fantastic breakfasts. The Victorian terrace boasts a walled garden and a placid British bulldog. Around the corner is the regal Merchant’s House, where the spacious, airy rooms have been tastefully furnished with antiques.”
Fodor's Ireland 2010
“No. 16 Queen Street was originally a Victorian merchant's family town home built to Georgian proportions, then a rectory and bank, before Joan Pyne turned it into the city's grandest B&B. The bank carpet with its glorious golden wheat sheaf symbols is still on the floor and wearing well. Garnet-color walls, elaborate plasterwork, and a fireplace make the parlor warm and welcoming. Little wonder the guestbook features some prominent names, including the late Hurd Hatfield, star of the movie The Picture of Dorian Gray. In 2009 the cellars were renovated to include three en suite modern bedrooms. Joan also owns a similar but smaller building three minutes' walk away called the Saddler's House. Charming and cozy, this Victorian jewel of a home … has been lovingly restored and is packed with interesting antiques and family portraits. It's also excellent value for the money. Floral window boxes with cyclamen and geraniums add a colorful red and pink flourish to your stay. Incidentally, many architecturally interesting homes occupy the neighborhood which is a landmark district. The family dog, Bertie—described by Joan as a "cool customer"—loves greeting guests. … graceful and elegant, this accommodation is great value considering everything that's on offer; for the discriminating traveler.”
Frommer’s Ireland 2004 & Frommer’s Ireland From $90 A Day (2006)
“The Saddler’s House and the Merchant’s House ** Value. Peter and Joan Pyne have beautifully restored these two 19th-century town houses. The Saddler’s House is coy Victorian. The more elegant Merchant’s House is late Georgian and has been revived with such care that it won a Civic Trusts Ireland conservation award. It is among the last Georgian-style houses still in service as residences in Derry. These two noteworthy houses are several blocks from each other and are only minutes away by foot from Derry center. At the risk of runaway alliteration, they offer considerable comfort, convenience, character, and charm at budget rates.”
Hanging Out in Ireland (2001)
“Two B & Bs that offer excellent prices in an old-fashioned Victorian setting are The Saddler’s House and The Merchant’s House... Enormous breakfasts include homemade jam and fresh fruit at both places. Definitely the first two B & Bs to call.”
The Bridgestone Irish Food Guide, 9th ed., 2009
Two Town Houses: The Merchant’s House, and the Saddler’s House
“In addition to her two fine B & Bs, the Merchant’s House and the simpler Saddler’s House, Joan Pyne also has two self-catering houses in the city, Cathedral Cottage and Darcus Cottage. Ms Pyne is very sympathetic to the aesthetic of each of her houses, and it is this quest for correctness and appositeness that makes these houses such a vital alternative to the bland hotels that dominate town.”
Moon Handbook. Ireland (2007)
“The Saddler’s House is universally recognized as the best B & B in the city and deservedly so. Dr. and Mrs Pyne live in another townhouse around the corner, The Merchant’s House….Both Georgians have been restored to perfection – grandfather clocks, Hogarth prints, decorative plasterwork ( and a lascivious young bulldog to boot). The breakfasts are outstanding. Be sure to book ahead, especially in high season and call in to Saddler’s when checking in.”
Ireland for Dummies. 5th Edition (2009).
The Merchant’s House (Best of the Best)
“Owned and run by the same people who do such a fine job with The Saddler’s House (see the next review), the Merchant’s House is an elegant, beautifully restored Georgian B&B within walking distance of the city center. The home has high ceilings and intricate plasterwork, and the bedrooms are spacious and painted in warm, vivid colors. Flames in the fireplace flicker on the walls of the comfortable parlor. Having breakfast in the polished Georgian dining room, you may think you’ve slipped back in time. Your hosts are incredibly knowledgeable about the city and can help you plan an itinerary that will suit your needs and interests.”
The Saddler’s House (Best of the Best)
“You’ll feel right at home in this cozy Victorian B&B, with its guest common room, selection of books in each bedroom, and tasty breakfasts served in a light-flooded space. Rooms aren’t huge, but they’re certainly big enough to move around in and charmingly furnished in a way that makes them seem more like rooms in someone’s home than rooms in a guest lodging. The location is terrific, within a ten-minute walk of the heart of the city.”
Lonely Planet Ireland (2010)
“Merchant’s House (Our Pick). Run by the same couple as the Saddler’s House, this historic, Georgian-style town house is a gem of a B & B. It has an elegant lounge and dining room with marble fireplaces and antique furniture, TV, coffee-making facilities … and homemade marmalade at breakfast.”
“Saddler’s House. Centrally located within a five-minute walk of the walled city, this friendly B & B is set in a lovely Victorian townhouse. All seven rooms have private bathrooms and you get to enjoy a huge breakfast in the family kitchen.”
Lonely Planet Discover Ireland (2010)
“Merchant’s House: Derry’s best historic Georgian townhouse”
Rick Steves’ Ireland 2010
“Merchant’s House, on a quiet street a 10-minute stroll from Waterloo Place, is a fine Georgian townhouse with marble fireplaces, ornate plasterwork, and a grand, colourful drawing room and eight rooms sporting marble fireplaces and ornate plasterwork”
“The Saddler’s House , run by the owners of Merchant’s House, is a charming Victorian townhouse with seven rooms located a couple blocks closer to the old town walls. “
Rough Guide to Ireland (2008)
“The Saddler’s House. Stylish, period-furnished, Victorian townhouse B & B very near the city centre, off Strand Road. Its friendly knowledgeable owners also run the equally grand, Georgian The Merchant’s House at 16 Queen Street, nearby.”
Georgina Campbell’s Ireland: www.ireland-guide.com
"The Merchants House
In a conveniently central location, just outside the city walls, Joan and Peter Pyne’s Georgian-style townhouse offers a characterful alternative to hotel accommodation and is popular with cultural visitors to the city.
A listed building (and open to the public on European Heritage Day), this end-of-terrace house was built in 1867, has a beautiful big first floor drawing room typical of the time and, as well as many period details such as ornate plasterwork and marble fireplaces, it is full of old furniture, books and informal historical display.
The listed status imposes limitations (there is no lift, for example, and it is a tall building; and not all rooms are en-suite) but, working within the guidelines, improvements have been ongoing over the years. Most recently, for example, they have revamped the basement and have made two/ three more bedrooms – one comprising two bedrooms with a shared bathroom between them, all lockable.
Although not large, these new basement rooms are nicely done up – stone walls painted fresh white, lovely fresh bed linens - and windows looking out onto a patio area increase the sense of space. The rooms overall vary in size, position within the building and outlook, but are well appointed with TV, tea./coffee making and broadband - and some back rooms overlook the patio.
Breakfast is served in an elegant dining room, where the table is beautifully laid in traditional style. Locally sourced produce is used where possible and, as well as hot dishes, other good offerings include fruit compotes (apple and raisin, and rhubarb, for example), home baked breads and homemade marmalade and jams.
While it does not offer the space and comfort of an hotel, this is an interesting place to stay, authentic and full of charm; it is reasonably priced, the location is very good and you can park free outside overnight (but be warned that there's a one hour restriction between 8 am and 6 pm.)
*** Joan and Peter Pyne also run the more budget-conscious B&B The Saddlers House nearby at 36 Great James Street
Just off the Strand Road close to the City Hotel"