As Belfast leaves its troubles behind, the capital of Northern Ireland is quickly becoming a major destination. With a vibrant cultural scene, new culinary wonders, and a refurbished shipyard that includes Ireland’s most talked-about new museum, there are plenty of reasons to plan a trip to Belfast as soon as possible.
The golden Victorian age has still left its mark on the city, and some of the most historic buildings are now chic hotels in the heart of downtown. Towering skyscrapers have also been converted in luxury rooms, but beloved B&Bs still abound. Here is where to stay next time you visit Belfast.
The towering glass building that houses the Fitzwilliam Hotel in central Belfast offers unbeatable views of city hall and the lovely St. Anne’s Cathedral. Guests rave about the 5-star service, but the stylish digs speak for themselves. The award-winning hotel restaurant serves gorgeous meals from morning to night, including a delicious pre-theater tasting menu in the elegant dining room. After a nightcap in the glamorous hotel bar, slip under the duck down duvets and enjoy views of the city skyline from the contemporary rooms.
A short walk from the Grand Opera House, the Grand Central Hotel Belfast is one of Belfast’s most sought-after new hotels. The original Grand Central Hotel opened in the 1880s and hosted many celebrities over the years, including the Rolling Stones when they passed through Northern Ireland in the 1960s. The new Grand Central Hotel is a completely converted and updated 23-story glass building. The top floor is home to Ireland’s highest bar—the swanky Observatory Bar. The hotel also offers on-site dining in the Seahorse Bar and Restaurant, though you can also order food to be delivered directly to your lavish room.
This four-star boutique hotel is one of Belfast’s most stylish places to stay. The industrial-style accommodation is sleek without sacrificing any kind of comfort. The modern rooms are decorated in cool blues and grays, and all have kettles for making tea and coffee. Every morning, a simple breakfast is delivered to the rooms, though there is also a bistro restaurant in the hotel if you are searching for heartier fare. The small rooftop bar is a highlight, but you can also explore all the pubs and restaurants in the central neighborhood right between St. Anne’s Cathedral and St. George’s Market.
The Merchant began life as a bank but the lovely Victorian building has since been converted into one of Belfast’s best hotels. Filled with art-deco touches, the high-end hotel can be found a short walk from St. Anne’s Cathedral, right in the center of the city. While everything that the city has to offer lies right outside the door, you might not ever want to leave the luxe hotel. The Merchant has a fine dining restaurant known as The Great Room where guests can dine under a massive period chandelier. After dark, Berts Jazz bar turns up the volume with live music seven days a week. A cocktail bar and an Irish pub round out the dining and drinking options. Of course, the next morning you’re welcome to spend time in the rooftop gym that looks out over downtown.
The Titanic Hotel Belfast
The Titanic museum is one of the top things to experience in Belfast, and the new Titanic Hotel is a thematic accommodation option on the same shipyard as the famous attraction. Housed inside an old shipbuilding office that dates back to the late 19th century, the hotel is brimming with historic touches and maritime design. The nautical decor follows you into the upscale dining room, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Flint Belfast
The cool, minimalist design of the Flint makes it one of the top places to stay in Belfast. The hotel, located in the Linen Quarter, offers studio-style suites with seating areas and a kitchen so that all the comforts of home are available while you explore the city. The smart TVs are even programmed with Netflix so you can stream your favorite films from bed. If you don’t plan to stay long, the standard rooms come with all the same perks, minus the cooking area. While there is no bar or restaurant on-site, The Flint is literally in between two of Belfast’s best eateries, and many more are a short walk away.
For those who want to experience Queen’s Quarter and stay a few nights at a fair rate, Tara Lodge is an excellent home base in Belfast. Located right next to Botanic Train Station, most of downtown is a short walk away, but you can also hop on the train to easily reach the Titanic Belfast. The contemporary B&B-style hotel is located inside a red brick townhouse and a hot breakfast is available in the dining room every morning. There are no other bars or restaurants on-site, but there is plenty to do and eat in the increasingly trendy neighborhood surrounding Tara Lodge.
For water views, it is hard to beat the Hilton Belfast, which sits right on the banks of the River Lagan. The family-friendly hotel also attracts business travelers because it is attached to the Waterfront Hall convention center and a 2-minute walk from the edge of downtown. With two restaurants and an on-site gym, there is plenty to do at the property if you want to explore beyond the spacious rooms.
One Sussex Place
While Belfast has incredible traditional hotels and gorgeous modern boutique accommodations, some trips call for apartment-style stays. For a perfectly appointed flat, check into One Sussex Place, less than 5 minutes from St. George’s Market in the city center. The apartments range from one to two bedrooms and feature full kitchens and comfortable seating areas. While there are no bars or eateries on-site, you will have all the appliances you need to whip up a meal for a cozy night in, and it's only a short walk to many restaurants and nightspots.
For a unique stay in Queen’s Quarter, check into Harper's Boutique on University Street. The quiet area is only a 10-minute walk from downtown but offers a taste of local living in the city. The cozy bed and breakfast is set inside a grand, impeccably decorated, brick Victorian townhouse. Several rooms sizes are available to suit all travel styles and budgets, and all include breakfast every morning. There is also a small coffee shop inside, though those looking for hearty meals later in the day will have to eat off-site.