The Ebrington Hotel, Derry

In a challenging construction and economic landscape, Ebrington Hotel’s transformation by McKelvey Construction is a prime example of resilience, forward thinking and meticulous attention to detail.

The £15.5 million, 18-month project involved the construction of a new, four-level building alongside the refurbishment of five Listed buildings to form the luxury Ebrington Hotel, boasting a 4-star rating. The hotel is located on the 19th century former Ebrington military barracks, with works including the restoration of the iconic Clock Tower building. 

McKelvey Construction successfully delivered the deluxe hotel accommodating 91 bedrooms with the potential to increase to 152-room capacity. Also provided was an exquisite function room, contemporary 140-seater restaurant, a range of bars and lounges and opulent spa facilities including a hydrotherapy pool. 


Every large-scale project has its share of trials. Ebrington Hotel’s journey was marked by challenges like Brexit, Covid-19 and economic inflation hikes, causing labour issues, supply chain disruptions and cost variations, all emphasising the adaptability of McKelvey Construction. 

“Due to the complex nature of the buildings, the project required significant redesign and cost management to bring it in on budget and schedule, without impacting the overall finish of the hotel,” explained Richard Crawford, Contracts Director for McKelvey Construction. 

“We essentially entered into an open book value engineering process with the client, architect, the client’s QS and our own QS to fulfil the project’s revised needs. “

“It was essential that we achieved public access standards to facilitate the court application for a licence to sell alcohol in time for the July 7 opening date, something which was imperative to the success of the client’s business plan. Our incredible team fully committed to the project, undertaking considerable out-of-hours working to confidently complete on time.”

Further complexities were added by regulatory demands from bodies such as the Heritage Environment Division (HED), Scheduled Historical Monuments, Building Control and the Fire Authority, not to mention the high expectations of a discerning client.

“We have successfully delivered projects on the Ebrington site for over 20 years, so we had extensive experience collaborating with the HED and additional bodies involved in maintaining the Listed buildings. Extensive aspects of the Listed buildings had to pass through planning permission, with the HED involved in all negotiations. We were required to retain as much of the original structure as possible, with all alterations completed sensitively and in conjunction with the HED, a process which was ongoing for the entire project.”

The client emphasised the importance of energy conservation in order to reduce the operational costs of the building. “To reduce these costs and environmental impact, we installed solar panels, energy-saving fittings and high-grade insulation as well as increasing the airtightness of the building,” said Richard.

Quality control

Richard praised the project’s exceptional level of finish. “The quality surpasses any other hotel in this region of Northern Ireland. We engaged competent contractors with whom we had worked previously and were confident they could deliver complicated works to exceptional standards, within the critical deadline.”

“We had a QS on site for the full duration of the project, which is quite unusual, but given the volume of the site and required outcomes, we felt it necessary to manage the project to achieve all KPIs.”

Commenting on the completion, Richard said, “We have been working on the site for over two decades, stabilising, maintaining and sensitively modernising the heritage buildings. It was fantastic to be able to see it through to completion and open to the general public.

“We take immense pride in our accomplishment of bringing this landmark structure to fruition, exceeding all of our client’s expectations. Managing the complex installations of a 4-star hotel building within a strict timeframe and budget whilst upholding conservation, quality, H&S, environmental and social responsibilities is an immense achievement.”

For the full project overview, check out NIBuilder Issue 34-4 Aug-Sept here.