The grandeur of a larger than life Victorian banking building is a fitting setting for Belfast’s most dramatic and beautiful hotel. The exterior of the building is Italianate in style, with sculptures depicting Commerce, Justice and Britannia, looking down benignly from the apex of the magnificent facade.
The entrance is up two flights of steps, through tall mahogany and glass revolving doors and then into a room of epic proportions with high ceilings, a central glassed dome with Tyrone crystal and brass chandelier, Corinthian columns, very tall doors painted black with bevelled glass panes and lovely windows with stained glass features at the back (where chunky bamboo plants give at least the appearance of garden outside).
The lobby - furnished with comfortable sofas and chairs, rich autumnal fabrics, antiques and curiosities - sets the tone for the whole hotel, which has an authentic period feeling throughout and, although very luxurious, is not ostentatious.
The adjacent cocktail bar is equally beautifully furnished in the same style, with red velvet and deep fringing and more of that autumnal velvet too on soft chairs; here, there are two beautiful windows overlooking the street. (On the other side of the front door, also with two beautiful windows, a residents’ bar with modern furnishings seems less successful.)
The bedrooms and suites are all named after a literary figure with Belfast associations (MacNeice, Heaney, Brian Friel, C.S. Lewis, Larkin etc); the geography of the building means there are features like lovely marble fireplaces with comfy chairs in lobbies and quaint corners en route to somewhere else - a world away from purpose built hotel accommodation with long corridors of doors.
All guest rooms are elegantly and opulently appointed and offer air conditioning, black out curtains, WiFi, flat screen television, and spacious marbled bathrooms with many extras.
Everything at this Belfast hotels about luxury and indulgence - including the offer of The Merchant Bentley, which you can book to collect you from the airport or elsewhere.
Conferences/Banqueting (100); free broadband wi/fi. Children welcome (under 4s free in parents' room, cot available free of charge, baby sitting arranged). Fitness room, jacuzi, steam room. Spa (massage, treatments).
Rooms 62 (6 suites, 2 junior suites, 34 executive, 4 family, 2 shower only, 7 ground floor, 2 disabled, all no smoking). Room rate from about £225. 24 hr room service; lift; laundry service. SC 10%.
The Great Room Restaurant:
Three central steps take you from the lobby up to the restaurant, where a small antique reception desk and menu signal the transition; here, despite the great height and scale, low dividers give a sense of more intimate spaces without interrupting the view - and a bold choice, carried throughout the hotel, is the striped carpet.
Menus offered at various times include set, vegetarian and à la carte, and a 9-course Tasting Menu is also available; it offers good value, and is available with suggested wines with each course at only £20 extra.
This Belfast Restaurants house style is upbeat classic and, typically, you might expect to find starters like foie gras terrine with local plums, star anise & pistachio toast, and dressy main courses including local Finnebrogue veni and beautiful son - smoked saddle, perhaps, served with red cabbage, bacon gnocchi, and vanilla & coco butter.
Desserts include house versions of many favourites and there’s an informatively described French and Irish cheeseboard. Coffee is beautifully served in art deco style silver pot with wicker handles and matching bowls. An outstanding wine list is compiled in consultation with Jane Boyce, MW.
*A traditional Afternoon Tea, with all the trimmings, is also served in The Great Room.