If you ever need somewhere really relaxing, peaceful and away-from-it all to stay near Belfast, Victoria Brann’s Georgian-style house in the hills above Holywood is just the place. Although not pretending to be old, the proportions are classic and it’s beautifully furnished with family antiques – once inside it has the genuine feel of a period house.
Rooms complete with hospitality trays, fresh flowers, comfortable chairs, wireless broadband and laptop-size safes look out over the rolling North Down countryside and have lots of little extras: beds are made up with fine Irish linen, bathrooms have robes and slippers, also a neck cushion for the bath, there’s even a hot water bottle just in case – and a torch thoughtfully placed beside the bed.
And it comes as nice surprise in such pristine surroundings that Victoria is an animal lover, and small dogs are allowed in by arrangement. She was also a caterer in a previous life and it shows in delicious (and very generous) cooked to order breakfasts, served in a classic dining room – decorated, among other things, with a collection of silver cloches from her catering days.
Victoria’s experience in catering means she could whip up a marvellous meal with one hand tied behind her back- and makes her a very relaxed and engaging breakfast host. She treats guests to a generous selection of fresh fruits and juices, yogurts and other good things from the buffet and, while you’re wading through this cornucopia of good things and playing with all the intriguing pots ands jars on her lazy susan, rustles up hot dishes of your choice – often including fresh fish.
In summer, breakfast may be served in a spacious conservatory overlooking a croquet lawn.