Belfast is a city we love to visit, there’s lots to do with some great restaurants and bars. It had been a couple of years since our last trip so we decided to treat ourselves to a stay at The Merchant Hotel and booked an ‘art deco room’ for a two night weekend break.
We traveled on Friday morning, in the lashings of rain and wind, up the M1 from Dublin, arriving in time to check in and leave our luggage with the concierge and to head out for our lunch booking in James Street South. More on lunch in a later post, suffice to say it was a super start to the weekend.
Up to now we have generally stayed in the Fitzwilliam which is an equally great hotel in Belfast; although The Merchant is the more luxurious, 5 star option. The hotel reception is not where you think it is when you see pictures of The Merchant and the staircase to the grade A listed building (top photo!); it’s at the side of the hotel where the old and new parts of the hotel meet. Valet parking (pre booked and a cost of £20 p/d) means you can just pull up, unload the car and hand over the keys.
Opened 10 years ago as a hotel, the building was previously the Ulster Bank Headquarters and was built in the late 19th Century. At that time this area was in the heart of commercial and merchant centre of Belfast. Now referred to as the Cathedral Quarter, there’s a lot of history and culture on the doorstep of The Merchant as well as nightlife, bars, shopping, cafes and restaurants. In 2010 the hotel was expanded to add a new wing, with Art Deco style rooms to compliment the existing Victorian style rooms and suites in the older part of the hotel.
Check in was smooth, reception staff throughout our stay were some of the nicest we have encountered. Taking the lift to the 5th floor, our room was located at the end of the short corridor. We entered a bright and spacious room and loved it right away. There was a seating area with coffee table and TV, a desk located in between two large picture windows, a walk in wardrobe, which was a surprise hidden behind what looked like regular wardrobe doors and a king size bed, with mirror headboard. Next to this, a very large bathroom with a separate bath, and huge rain shower decorated in beautiful turquoise blue tiles and marble throughout; a luxurious bathroom.
The bed was very comfortable and we slept so well both nights, not always the case in hotels (and possibly helped by the cocktails and wine but sshhh!).
Breakfast is served in The Great Room restaurant. There’s no breakfast buffet here, everything is brought to you at your table including cereal, perfectly presented on a plate with a jug of milk and bowl of sugar. The full Irish is a fantastic breakfast, sausage, bacon, egg, white and black pudding, rasher, tomato, mushroom, potato farl, fried bread. There’s also a basket of toasts and croissants and we enjoyed flat white and double espresso coffees too. An ideal start to a day exploring and wandering.
The hotel bar, in the older part of the hotel and next to The Great Room Restaurant is beautifully styled with a luxury yet relaxed ambiance. The only quibble is the chairs, they’re just not very comfortable! We also visited Bert’s bar which is at the other end of the hotel in the newer Art Deco part… this is a brighter more modern feeling bar. The weekend brunch served here looked delicious (next time!). A full cocktail menu at both bars and I took my job seriously in trying the cocktails; there’s good wine menus too and again really excellent service.
There’s an open air rooftop hot tub in the hotel which we unfortunately didn’t get to try it, the weather did not cooperate. I had hoped to visit the spa but didn’t make an appointment on time so alas no massage for me, next time…
And so after a wonderful two nights away it was time to head home. We loved The Merchant and have reasons to return to try the spa, rooftop hot tub and the brunch in Berts. Belfast is a wonderful city, go visit and while you’re there drop in to The Merchant for a cocktail if you’re not staying there.
The Merchant Hotel | 16 Skipper Street, Belfast, BT1 2DZ, Northern Ireland| +44 (0) 28 9023 4888 | firstname.lastname@example.org