Formerly the official palace for the Bishops of Down, Hastings Hotels’ flagship property in Holywood is the region's premier hotel and 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 public areas give a soothing feeling of exclusivity, and comfortable drawing rooms overlook the lough. WiFi is available in all areas, and there are video/DVD players in suites.
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 - which also echoes the group's support of local producers by including items such as Belleek china mugs and Thompson Family Tea, from Belfast.
Information supplied in guest rooms includes the Hastings Hotels booklet 'Food Heritage, Our Little Book of Local Cuisine'. Featuring Lady Dufferin, of Clandeboye Estate (dairy produce, notably yoghurt) on the cover, and with a Foreword by well known chef and BBC broadcaster Paula McIntyre, it catalogues many of the food and drink producers that the Hastings Group support. It makes an interesting read, and leads on nicely to the excellent Irish Breakfast experience that is provided in the Mitre Restaurant, backed up by informative menus and labelled displays of local produce.
The ‘Cultra Inn’, an atmospheric bar and restaurant in the grounds, offers an informal alternative to The Mitre Restaurant.
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 hotel is an impressive wedding venue, and licensed to hold wedding ceremonies on the premises.
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.