Anyone who has visited the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin will feel at home right away at this five star hotel beside the Grand Opera House in Belfast city centre.
It’s an enviable location, and the hotel impresses from the outset with its friendly concierge (valet parking) and the understatedly sumptuous foyer. Designed to look and feel like a (very classy) living-room, it has an aura of calmness and serenity, with comfortable contemporary leather chairs where you can relax while watching the passing street parade through the floor to ceiling windows.
Offering comfort and style, this Belfast Hotels foyer sets the tone for the remainder of the building – and who could fail to be impressed by the glass walled boardroom suspended above it?
You’ll find the trademark chic Fitzwilliam modern classic style and great attention to detail throughout.
Public areas include a stylish and friendly bar that (as in Dublin) has quickly become established as a fashionable meeting place for lunch or a drink after work or shopping – helped by the central location, near the famous Crown Bar Liquor Saloon (now owned by the National Trust) and only a couple of minutes walk from the main shopping and business areas. Be prepared to spend time perusing a drinks list offering 700 spirits and liquors – where, happily, even the best bubbly is available by the glass.
Modern and design-led, without any of the garish fashion excesses which have spoilt so many recent hotel developments, an air of relaxation prevails in the bedrooms, where comfort is the order of the day. With luxurious beds (Egyptian cotton sheets, duck down duvets), plenty of nice little extras (fresh flowers, VOSS mineral water, Fitzwilliam umbrella, complimentary newspaper), and sumptuous bathrooms with separate bath and shower, mist-free mirrors, quality toiletries, robes and slippers, your room will be hard to leave.
And, with in-room amenities including desk, laptop size safe, broadband access (free), great hair dryers, iron/ironing board, coffee/tea/mini-bar bar unit with cafetière for fresh coffee, sound system with CD library, LCD TV and electronic checkout, the rooms are equally suited to business or leisure guests.
If you’re lucky enough to get a corner room with windows on two sides overlooking the city, you’ll be bowled over by the sights outside.
Conference/banqueting (3 rooms) 55/20; business centre; free broadband wi/fi. Fitness suite. Children welcome, cots available on request (no charge).
Rooms 130 (6 junior suites, 106 executive, 7 disabled; all with separate bath & shower and no-smoking.) Room rate £180. Lift. 24 hr room service. Valet Parking. Open all year.
Menu by Kevin Thornton
You can take the lift from the foyer but there is also a separate street entrance to the first floor dining room, which is undoubtedly the pièce de resistance of the hotel.
Head Chef Patrick Leonard (ex Claridge’s Hotel, London) leads the kitchen team at this accessibly priced all day restaurant offering (a particularly good) breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner, in an informal atmosphere.
Very different from the iconic Thornton's Restaurant at the Fitzwilliam Dublin, surroundings are the essence of casual chic - communal lightwood tables sparkling with polished glassware have runners and striking deep pink high-back chairs, while subdued lighting makes the booths along the walls perfect for intimate dinners - and the emphasis is on simple quality food, beginning with fresh local produce.
Menus offering a mixture of styles may include some old favourites with a modern twist (bacon & cabbage, for example, may be served as a terrine with shallot vinaigrette and leek pureé – an inspired variation) and excellent classics like grilled fillet of Fermanagh beef with béarnaise sauce and pont neuf potatoes, while Bushmills whiskey snap and warm berry compôte with lemon sabayon and shredded mint leaves should make a tempting finale.
A very affordable wine list begins at just £19 and service is excellent, under the direction of Restaurant Manager Harry Gribben, well known in Belfast from his time at the former Shanks near Bangor and nearby Deane’s Restaurant.