Formerly the official palace for the Bishops of Down, Hastings Hotels’ flagship property in Holywood is a fine example of 19th-century Scottish Baronial architecture with plasterwork ceilings, stained glass windows and an imposing staircase.
It is set in beautifully maintained gardens and woodland overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim coastline. Period furniture and fine paintings in spacious high ceilinged rooms give a soothing feeling of exclusivity, and comfortable drawing rooms overlook the lough.
Spacious, lavishly decorated guest rooms include a large proportion of suites and a Presidential Suite, with the best view; all are lavishly furnished and decorated with splendid bathrooms and details such as bathrobes, a welcoming bowl of fruit, and nice touches like ground coffee and a cafetière on the hospitality tray.
Wireless internet access is available in all areas, and there are video/DVD players in suites. 26 new bedrooms were completed in 2008, and major changes are planned for the reception area and bar at the time of going to press.
The hotel has an association with The Royal Belfast Golf Club, four minutes away by car (book the complimentary hospitality limousine) also a fine health club; the ‘Cultra Inn’, a bar and restaurant in the grounds, offers an informal alternative to The Mitre Restaurant.
The hotel is licensed to hold weddings on the premises.
Conference/banqueting (1,000/600); business centre, broadband wi/fi. Leisure centre (swimming pool, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, fitness room; spa). Garden. Children welcome (under 14s free in parents' room; cot available without charge, baby sitting arranged). No pets.
Rooms 105 (1 suite, 21 junior suites, 41 executive, 8 family, 2 disabled, all no-smoking). Lift. 24 hr room service. B&B £138 pps, ss £70.* Short breaks offered. Parking (400). Helipad. Open all year.
The Mitre Restaurant:
The fine dining restaurant is in a long room overlooking the lough, with a discreet and luxurious ambience - and, with very comfortable and well-padded upholstered chairs, conducive to lingering.
Tables are beautifully appointed in classic style, and extensive menus that live up to their promise may include a speciality main course, of tender saddle of venison from nearby Clandeboye Estate, with crushed root vegetables and buttered greens.
Classic cooking, lovely surroundings and correct, attentive service all make this a restaurant with a sense of occasion. Extensive wine list to match.