Whether you’re in love with Kenneth Brannagh’s seven-time Oscar-nominated film Belfast, a lifelong Game of Thrones fan, a serious history buff or a connoisseur of the culinary scene, there are plenty of reasons to fall in love with Northern Ireland and the thriving capital around it.
Instead of a turbulent political landscape or kites crossing the sky, a lively and welcoming Belfast awaits.
With the mighty Black Mountain and rocky Cavehills overlooking majestic Edwardian architecture, there’s a city filled with circuits of restaurants far above its weight, colorful art scene and gritty nightlife where “madness is always 90”.
When you’re done exploring the Victorian Botanic Gardens and Tropical Canyon, tasting local fudge and cheese at St George’s Market and strolling the famous cobblestone streets of the Cathedral Quarter, where will you lay your head? Here is our selection of accommodations for your trip to Belfast.
1. Hotel Titanic
The 119-room boutique Hotel Titanic is located in the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff’s headquarters and printing house, where plans for the shipbuilding of the Titanic were decisive. A legendary location in the heart of the Titanic Quarter, rooms overlook the wide slipways where the ship first sailed and the legendary yellow storks Samson and Goliath of Belfast.
Rooms lean into a nautical setting with bright Art Deco interiors. The exclusive art and heritage collection includes more than 500 White Star Line artwork and photos, passenger portraits, and memorabilia for a time travel experience. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, The Wolff Grill, uses the finest local ingredients and has been awarded the Irish Hotel of the Year Award by the Irish Hotel Awards.
Intimate cocktails can be enjoyed together at the Drawing Office Two island bar under a stunning three-story vault. Admire the authentic interior features, including the Villeroy & Boch tiles in the main bar – the same ones used for the Titanic’s swimming pool and master bathroom.
It is a prime venue for weddings and events, and hotel stay packages also include a choice of holistic yoga retreats, guided history tours, and admission to Belfast’s Titanic attractions.
A two-minute walk takes you to Titanic Belfast, with its full-scale reconstruction and innovative interactive features exploring history in fascinating detail.
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2. The Merchant Hotel
The majestic front staircase of the Grade II listed Merchant Hotel has graced many Instagram grids. They are renowned for their afternoon tea consisting of delicious homemade scones and merchant blended teas (also with a vegan and vegetarian menu), served in the Victorian Great Room with high ceilings under a large chandelier.
Merchant is home to several bars and restaurants – The Cloth Ear is a classic traditional Irish pub, while Bert’s is Belfast’s only specialty jazz bar, with a French bistro menu and a global cocktail list celebrating 1920s luxury.
The rooms – some Art Deco inspired, others Victorian – are spacious and bright, with furnishings reminiscent of each era.
The Art Deco rooms feature furnishings by iconic designers such as Eileen Gray and Le Corbusier, as well as bespoke artwork.
The spa offers five serene treatment rooms, a relaxation room and a hydrotherapy area, incorporating luxury brands such as VOYA and Elemis into its extensive list of treatments.
Dealers also specifically cater to golfers, with on-site cleaning, storage and handling of equipment, as well as transfers to specific golf courses in the area.
3. The Culloden Estate and Spa
Located just outside Belfast on the edge of the rich and salty Hollywood and offering stunning views of the Antrim coast, The Culloden Estate and Spa is an elegant traditional retreat.
Originally built as the official palace for the Bishops of Down, it spans 12 acres of living gardens. 98 individually designed rooms and suites – Estate Suites are perfect for entertaining groups, with high ceilings, fireplaces and dining areas for up to six people.
Three Tower Suites offer unobstructed views of the Lough, double-height ceilings and luxurious furnishings for ultimate luxury.
This is a dream location for weddings and events, but also a must for anyone looking for a deep breath of fresh Celtic air and relaxation.
While providing you with a complete country retreat experience, the hotel is only a 10-minute drive from Belfast City Airport, 40 minutes from the International Airport and 20 minutes from the city centre.
On the property’s grounds is a traditional Irish Inn where hotel guests and locals alike enjoy pub food, while the on-site restaurant, Vesper, serves more modern Irish cuisine in a luxurious Gothic setting.
Top Tip: Weekday spa holidays are well worth it and include access to the central pool, linear vitality pool, and ESPA spa with steam room and hammam.
4. The Harrison
The Harrison is located in a beautifully restored 1879 Victorian merchant house. The 16 rooms have distinct personalities, highlighting the delightful aesthetics of owner Melanie Harrison and her home: a soaking tub in the bedroom, heavy velvet curtains and dramatic antique furnishings.
It exudes character and fun – check out the CS Lewis and Aristocrat rooms for a true period interior. Melanie and her friendly staff are on hand to provide guests with itineraries and city guides (ask “Mel’s Map” for a selection of the best bars and restaurants), as well as special room packages that include tandem bike tours, picnics and whiskey experiences.
It’s also something for the culturally-minded visitor, as The Harrison is close to the Lyric Theatre, the Ulster Museum, the Frank Matcham-designed Grand Opera House, and the Queen’s Film Theatre.
Green spaces like the Botanic Gardens and Ormeau Park are also nearby, as is the famous Maggie May’s for Ulster Fry (extra potato bread), but you might not want to venture far beyond the plush walls when Harrison has an in-house spa with Nola available for facials and massages. .
5. The Malone Hotel
This recently renovated Victorian boutique hotel is an open secret in Belfast, located on a leafy street in South Belfast, but just steps from the bustling shopping paradise of Lisburn Road.
The hotel prides itself on its family history and hospitality – it first opened in 1945 as ‘The Bowness’ and over the past three decades the Macklin family have built their reputation. The Malone Hotel caters to all hotel guests – city vacations, couples and corporate events will find comfort in its function rooms, new Gallery Restaurant and upgraded Greyhound Bar.
Executive Chef Andrew McConnell has created a menu that celebrates seasonal produce with Irish flavours, with a wine and cocktail list focused on Northern Irish spirits. Expect fresh local salmon and rye bread on the breakfast menu and a Guinness that’s poured to perfection to match the bar’s crazy vibe.
6. AC Marriott
Riverfront AC Marriott in Belfast is an urban retreat with a large glass facade and panoramic views of the Lagan River and Belfast Hills, in a prime location with access to the airport and Belfast city centre.
With 188 rooms, it is one of the largest hotels in the city. Owned by the Port of Belfast, this £25m development is the first AC Hotel in the UK to be built to specification.
Jean Christophe Novelli, who has overseen several Michelin star restaurants, runs a riverside restaurant, cooking Mediterranean dishes using local produce. The County Tyrone dry Tomahawk steak to share from Novelli Grill and the Ballylisk cheese board are special highlights.
The terrace is a lovely place to dine alfresco at sunset (weather permitting in Belfast). But if you want to venture out, Ox, Muddlers Club and Morne Seafood Bar are strong independently owned restaurants with a focus on local cuisine nearby.
7. Bullitt Hotel
Bullitt is one of the younger and trendy newcomers to downtown Belfast and is part of the Beannchor group, which has made the city its flagship five-star merchant hotel.
It has 74 stylish and compact rooms right in the center of town, but even the “Dinky” twin rooms have plush king beds to sleep in. No-nonsense, simple, yet fun and stylish – named and themed after Steve McQueen’s 1968 neo-noir action thriller of the same name, which inspired McQueen-style artwork and dark cinematic interiors.
Taylor & Clay Restaurant, led by Executive Chef Saul O’Reilly, uses a special Asador wood-fired grill to create impressive steaks and seafood.
Wine selection is also based on what’s on the grill – the Argentinian Malbec is a crowd favourite. Stunning panoramic views of the city are offered by Babel, Bullitt’s rooftop bar and gardens, which can be enjoyed with a wide variety of gins, while the open-air Courtyard hosts evening DJ sets and serves as a meeting place for people enjoying espresso signature martini watches.
8. The Europa Hotel
Perhaps the largest surviving city, The Europa Hotel. This hotel is known as the most bombed hotel in Europe because it survived 36 bombings during the riots. Strategically located on Great Victoria Street in the heart of the city and features 272 hotel rooms including 92 executive rooms and suites.
It has maintained its grand exterior and grand lobby with a New York feel. The elegant bistro, central bar and lounge piano bar come alive at night with events, comedy nights featuring local and international performances and live music. Afternoon tea with special Belfast charm and local dishes can be ordered daily at the Piano Lounge.
The Grand Ballroom is also a popular wedding venue. And if you’re feeling extra presidential, there’s the Clinton Suite – Bill and Hillary Clinton stayed here during the peace talks in 1995. A saxophone hangs on the wall in honor of the former President and peace advocate for Northern Ireland.
A recent major renovation has upgraded all the guest rooms and refreshed the interiors so everyone can enjoy a quality stay. Plus, seasonal offers start at a reasonable £55 per night.
9. The Fitzwilliam Step
into the impressive lobby and be greeted by a bonfire at the five-star downtown hotel, The Fitzwilliam. Rooms are contemporary in design, with down comforters and Egyptian cotton sheets.
Gemma Austin of Great British Menu has risen to the ranks as a pastry chef in a restaurant kitchen, so don’t miss out on a delicious afternoon tea. Fitzwilliam’s proximity to the Grand Opera House, Lyric Theatre, Ulster Hall and Accidental Theatre makes it a good choice for culture lovers, and the pre-theatre menu is concise and delicious.
The restaurant was recently awarded the AA Rosette for culinary excellence and the dimly lit bar provides a place for casual drinks.
Want a night out with the girls? Girlie Getaway offers include sparkling afternoon tea, a full Irish breakfast and an overnight stay for two. And if that’s not your style, weddings, crime thrillers and cocktail experiences are available. They are also dog friendly, so don’t forget your pup.