Grand Cen­tral Ho­tel, Belfast

Business Traveller - - BUSINESS TRAVELLER PROMOTION - Becky Am­bury

BACK­GROUND This lat­est ven­ture from Hast­ings Ho­tels opened its doors in June. The brand’s port­fo­lio also in­cludes the Europa Ho­tel, the Cul­lo­den Es­tate and Spa, and the Stor­mont Ho­tel. The Grand Cen­tral Ho­tel is the largest and most ex­pen­sive ho­tel con­struc­tion pro­ject in North­ern Ire­land’s his­tory.

WHERE IS IT? In the cen­tre of the city, close to Belfast’s main sta­tions Great Vic­to­ria Street (six min­utes’ walk) and Belfast Cen­tral (13 min­utes’ walk). Belfast City air­port is around 20 min­utes’ drive.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The sparkling glass-clad 23-storey Grand Cen­tral Ho­tel, the tallest build­ing in North­ern Ire­land, has risen phoenix-like from what was once a rather non­de­script of­fice block. The re­sult­ing struc­ture could sym­bol­ise the city it­self – on the up, newly glam­orous and a lure to tourists and busi­ness peo­ple from around the world. Once in­side, the look is equally strik­ing. The dou­ble-height atrium has veined mar­ble floor­ing and dra­matic light­ing.

ROOMS There are 300 rooms, in­clud­ing ten suites, from 25 sqm for an Ex­ec­u­tive to 77 sqm for the Sir Wil­liam Hast­ings suite.

I was in a Deluxe Dou­ble (29 sqm) on the 21st floor that of­fered sweep­ing views through floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows, which kept the room bright and airy de­spite the dark wood fur­ni­ture and rich fab­rics.

A cou­ple of chairs with a small ta­ble were po­si­tioned be­side the win­dow, while the desk was sup­plied with USB and AC power. There was also a large wardrobe with an iron, plus a safe, and tea- and cof­fee-mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The “Cloud Bed” was very com­fort­able, and tow­elling gowns and slip­pers were pro­vided. All rooms have dig­i­tal ra­dio with Blue­tooth, a 50-inch flatscreen TV, free wifi and air con.

The bath­room was ex­tremely ap­peal­ing, with its large tub, rain­fall shower and vanity unit. My only com­plaint? When my room was ser­viced the cleaner left the pow­er­ful hand­held shower fac­ing out­wards, so that when I opened the cu­bi­cle door and turned

FOOD AND DRINK I ar­rived around mid­day and stopped for brunch in the el­e­gant ground-floor Grand Café, which serves an all-day menu. As the name sug­gests, the mood and look are in­spired by the grand cafés of con­ti­nen­tal Europe, with booths, ban­quettes and ta­ble seat­ing all ad­e­quately served with power sources, mak­ing it a great place for a spot of work or an in­for­mal meet­ing. The but­ter­milk waf­fles with smoked pork belly and maple syrup are not to be missed.

Sea­horse on the first floor com­prised three stylish and dis­tinct spa­ces – a bar, lounge and the main restau­rant – which had a re­laxed yet lively at­mos­phere the night I dined there. The menu show­cased pro­duce of mainly North­ern Ir­ish prove­nance. I had whole roasted sole with Jer­sey Roy­als, ca­pers, raisins and brown shrimp but­ter. Other op­tions in­cluded beef welling­ton to share, and steak with thick chips and bear­naise sauce.

Break­fast here was ex­cel­lent, a boun­ti­ful buf­fet spread of fruit, ce­real, por­ridge (with op­tional whiskey), North­ern Ir­ish break­fast (in­clud­ing white pud­ding) and muffins. Af­ter­noon tea was also avail­able.

Top­ping things off, lit­er­ally, was the Ob­ser­va­tory on the 23rd floor. The rooftop bar, the high­est in the city, was swish with vel­vet-cov­ered fur­ni­ture in jewel-like shades. The ap­peal­ing bar was lined with cut-crys­tal bot­tles and skilled bar­tenders knocked up de­li­cious cock­tails, while a piano that once be­longed to tit­u­lar hote­lier Sir Wil­liam Hast­ings’ wife was be­ing played beau­ti­fully the night I vis­ited.

MEET­INGS The Black­staff and the Farset, seat 45 in the­atre set-up. There are also two board­rooms and the Panorama suite – an 80-seat re­cep­tion room.

LEISURE A gym is un­der con­struc­tion and is ex­pected to open by the end of the year.

VER­DICT Glam­our meets com­fort at this smart ad­di­tion to the Belfast scene. The wel­come is warm and the lo­ca­tion is great, as it’s in one of the city’s best ar­eas for food, nightlife and cul­ture. That said, the ho­tel’s restau­rant and bar op­tions are des­ti­na­tions in their own right.

A piano that once be­longed to Sir Wil­liam Hast­ings’ wife was be­ing played

it on, I was sprayed slap in the face. ESPA toi­letries made up for this in­dis­cre­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from International

© PressReader. All rights reserved.