Kenneth Sharp's boutique hotel is in a choice corner location overlooking Belfast Lough and Bangor Marina. Although dating back tof Victorian times, it offers contemporary style - together with the hands-on hospitality that is not easy to find in larger establishments.
It’s a pleasant place to stay and not only handy to the town but also within an easy waterside stroll of the attractive Ballyholme area of Bangor, where there’s a pleasant promenade and a beach leading on to the National Trust coastal walk at Ballymacormick Point.
The ground floor is semi open-plan, taking advantage of the views over the harbour and lough from both the bar area and the restaurant.
While the ambience is contemporary it’s been created from two traditional redbrick houses, which gives it plenty of character. The varying size and décor of the guest rooms reflect its long history – those on the first floor, for example are spacious and comfortable, with traditional furnishings, while those at the very top are smaller, modern and more sparsely furnished. The range of rooms offered includes single, twin and family rooms, with the difference in size and outlook reflected in the price.
A particularly pleasing aspect of this relaxed hotel that is welcomed by many locals as well as resident guests, is its genuine pet friendliness. A pavement board invites people out walking with their dogs to come in for a bite in the pet-friendly bar, where welcoming mats and water bowls are laid out and the simple house rules (keep dogs on the floor and on leads etc) set out clearly on a blackboard. It's a happy arrangement for both owners and their contented pets - and dogs are also allowed in rooms, by arrangement, at no extra charge. With beach, pier and promenade to choose from, there is easy walking on the doorstep, and also loughside walks and and country parks nearby.
A seriously good breakfast is served in the bar, overlooking the marina – included among the treats are freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh fruits, homemade muesli or porridge (with honey, whiskey & cream) freshly baked bread from Central Bakery, delicious brown toast, and continental options including pain au chocolate - and a choice of hot dishes including, of course, an excellent rendition of the traditional Ulster Fry (delicious Fermanagh black bacon and sausages from Ballyholme Meats, that must-have potato bread and much more). It’s a great start to the day.
Conferences/Banqueting (30/55); secretarial services; free broadband wifi. Rooms 15 (all en-suite & no smoking, 2 family, 1 single); B&B £70-95 per room; single £55; children welcome (under 3s free in parents room, cot available, £10 charge). Dogs permitted (staying in bedroom).
Good food and drink has always been at the heart of the Salty Dog offering, and the dining experience is very relaxed.
There's a welcome focus on local and seasonal foods, with many producers named on dishes and details of some suppliers given on the main menu. Attention to detail is evident from the outset, when homemade breads are served with flavoursome Abernethy hand churned butter, dulse butter and the excellent Broighter Gold rapeseed oil from Limavady, Co Derry.
The cooking style is modern and can be quite adventurous, with plenty of big flavours and a natural leaning towards local seafood - Ewing's hand dived Irish scallops, for example - while meat lovers will enjoy Irish Hereford beef, also poultry and game which may include wild pigeon and imaginative dishes based on Rockvale chicken (from Co Armagh) and Fermanagh duck .
Thoughtfully devised vegetarian options are listed separately; all are available as starters or main courses - and you don't have to be vegetarian to be tempted by these imaginative dishes.
Desserts are always desirable, but a very appealing cheeseboard may tempt with local cheese such as Young Buck (made nearby in Newtownards) alongside Irish greats like Gubbeen, Durrus and Cooleeney...
Parents will be pleased to find a proper little children’s menu too.
There’s a full bar as well as a comprehensive drinks list, including a range of craft beers, both Irish and international. A nice feature is a Cocktail of the Month (the Salty Dog cocktail, perhaps: Plymouth gin, fresh grapefruit, a pinch of salt & lemon) and a Cask Ale of the Month, which could be local - Belfast Pale Ale, for example - or from further afield. Wines are well chosen and fairly priced, with plenty available by the glass.
All round, thisshould be an enjoyable place to eat, with a pleasing sense of informality.