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Elegant Luxury of Belfast’s New Gilded Age

The Merchant Hotel  Belfast photoBelfast is entering a new rebirth as a tourist destination, putting troubled times behind and rediscovering a new revitalised energy. The five-star Merchant Hotel is located in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast's city center, the oldest part of the town once called the “Boston of the North” during for its Presbyterian movement in the 18th Century, and “Linenopolis” during the industrial boom of the late 19th Century. Belfast now celebrates its part in the history of the Titanic, the doomed luxury liner of the gilded age. With its luxurious rooms elegantly decorated with original artwork, the Merchant Hotel provides the modern luxury expected of today’s era of international travel, which would have been appreciated by the Astors and Guggenheims. The hotel is in a Grade 1 listed historic building dating from 1860, which did not start life as a hotel, but rather as the headquarters of the Ulster Bank.

Mechant Hotel New Lounge photoThe Merchant Hotel is a harmonious blend of the Victorian grandeur of the original historic building and a new Art Deco inspired sleek contemporary modern wing addition, completed in 2010. The Merchant, with 62 rooms, is as intimate as it is grand and recently awarded as the Best UK Hotel by the International Hotel Awards. Amenities offered include a stunning luxury spa, a rooftop gymnasium with panoramic city views, a dedicated meeting and events suite and Belfast’s only true jazz bar. The Merchant Hotel is a short distance from a host of visitor attractions including the St Anne’s Cathedral, Victoria Square Shopping Centre, the Ulster Museum, Belfast City Hall, the Waterfront Hall and Odyssey Arena, and the newly opened Titanic Belfast center (see Titanic Belfast) in the Titanic Quarter.
The historic building of the hotel with its entrance steps on Waring Street past the columns of the distinctive High Victorian architectural façade of yellow Giffnock sandstone, below the sculptures of Commerce, Justice and Britannia looking from the cornice above impresses with the formality of its 19th Century banking pedigree reminiscent of Belfast’s mercantile history. Inside leads directly to the Great Room Restaurant with its four dark Corinthian columns surrounding the central domes of the former banking hall, with gold gilded walls decorated with plumb cherubs representing painting, science, scripture and music. The entrance to the modern Art Deco hotel lobby is actually more properly around the corner on Skipper Street.

Restaurants and Bars

Great RommRestaurant at Merchant Hotel Belfast photoFor dining, the Great Room Restaurant is the jewel of the hotel with a sumptuous menu of flavors of the season in epicurean style. Actually the former hall of its former life as a bank, the stunning room is the location for gourmet culinary delights served the timeless grandeur under the elegant glass dome, with one of the best wine lists in Ireland. Or enjoy a Traditional Afternoon Tea in high style, while he more casual Cloth Ear restaurant provides delicious Irish comfort food in a less formal atmosphere.
The Merchant Hotel offers a choice of bars and even its own an elegant nightclub, Olies, though the Cathedral district is the epicenter of Belfast’s pubs and clubs, so you’ll find plenty of nightlife just around the corner. If you’d rather stay on the premises, for the classic drinker, The Bar at The Merchant Hotel is the award-winning cocktail bar surrounded by antique Baccarat chandeliers, a glowing fire in the hearth and cocktail list described as of “biblical proportions”, which earned it the “World’s Best Hotel Bar Award” from the Spirit Awards, (held annually in New Orleans). The Private Resident's Bar offers a more sedate retro style, and Berts Jazz Bar draws its inspiration from the sleek art-deco elegance of New York Jazz bars of the 1930s, complemented by real live Jazz music 7 nights a week, a French Bistro style menu and a fabulous list of cocktail libations. For a bit of glamour indulgence and a bubbly toast to the luxurious lifestyle, there’s the Veuve Cliquot Champagne Lounge.

Spa, Golf & Rolls Royce

Cherubs in Domed Great Romm Restaurant Merchat photoThe Rooftop Spa offers all the comforts and pampering expected of a premier hotel with five private treatment rooms, a luxurious hydrotherapy area with hydro pool, rock sauna and aroma steam room. For getting about town in style, or just an impressive arrival from the airport, the Merchant Hotel has its own Rolls Royce Phantom with chauffeur, which can be reserved for VIP transfer pickup (from the International Airport is £90) or taken out for an evening, a wedding, or just a personalized tour with a picnic. For the golfer looking to experience Northern Ireland’s best golf courses, like Royal Portrush or Royal County Down, special Golfer Packages are available including room for two and one, two, or three rounds of golf, starting at £320 per room.
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