Instead of ringing in the New Year with a few glasses of fizz and a rousing round of Auld Lang Sang, I spent the majority of the festive season in hospital, recovering from a scheduled operation. So when an invitation to stay at Belfast’s new Titanic Hotel dropped into my inbox, I leapt at the chance to finally have a little celebration!
The hotel is perfectly situated just outside Belfast’s city centre in the hip Titanic Quarter. Near enough to the city’s bustling restaurants, bars, theatres and event venues to make it a convenient choice for visitors planning a night out on the town, but far enough from the hustle and bustle to allow for a quiet and relaxing night’s sleep right next to the Lagan. There’s something about being close to the water that relaxes the body and soothes the mind.
We choose to stay in the hotel on a weeknight, so we both had a full day of work behind us as we drove up to Belfast. We headed into town first and enjoyed a delicious meal at Eat Street on the Lisburn Road, so it was with full bellies and sleepy heads that we checked into the Titanic Hotel.
We had a little trouble finding the hotel car park – we turned just before the sign, however we should have turned just after it. The car park is park located under Titanic Belfast and once parked it is well signposted for the Hotel. A lift took us directly up to ground level and it was a very short walk across to the entrance of the hotel.
On a warmer night I would be tempted to take advantage of the seating area outside the hotel… however it’s still a bit too chilly for that.
Check in was very quick, the receptionist was very helpful, giving us a short bit of history about the hotel while directing us to our room, all with a smile I might add!
As you walk the corridors towards your room, you can literally read the history on the walls. Silhouetted figures in illuminated panels tell the story of the buildings past.
“For more than a century this corridor has echoed with the voices of the people of Belfast and beyond. People who have worked, visited and been entertained here, at the Headquarters of Harland & Wolff. If these walls could talk, what might they say.”
Throughout the hotel guests can enjoy a permanent collection of over 500 artworks, artefacts and photographs.
Authentic black and white photographs from the Harland & Wolff collection are poignant reminders of the design and engineering prowess of Belfast’s shipyards. Notable artefacts include the Villeroy & Boch tiles that surround the hotel’s main bar – identical to the tiles used for the swimming pools and First Class bathrooms on Titanic and Olympic – that’s truly a little bit of history right there!
We were given a room with a view out over Titanic Belfast and the Slipways – and although it was already night time when we checked in, the Titanic Quarter was beautifully and artfully lit to showcase the significance of the area.
The modernised upper floors of the hotel are decorated with nautical and Art Deco themes throughout, inspired by the style of the time, representing the art of shipbuilding and the ‘Golden Age of Ocean Liners.’
All bedrooms have streamlined Art Deco furniture and nautical touches throughout, with hanging ship’s lanterns, riveted panels and unique maritime artwork in every room – my husband is determined that we will add a schematic drawing of the Olympic Class trio – RMS Titanic, RMS Olympic, RMS Britannic – and the HMS Belfast to the walls of our own home now.
Many of the world’s most famous ocean liners were designed and built in Belfast by Harland & Wolff – the company played an important role in the creation of the ‘floating hotel’ and the ‘grand staircase’, innovations which continue to influence the design of today’s cruise ships.
For over 100 years the company specialised in the design and construction of large passenger vessels. There were facilities on the Clyde, Mersey and Thames, but its shipyards at Belfast were amongst the largest in Britain and Ireland and for many years turned out world-record amounts of tonnage.
“So have a care. You boys go pell-mell through this passage, precious drawings crushed beneath your arms!”
The list of liners and warships constructed at Belfast reads like a veritable who’s who of the largest and the finest – White Star’s Titanic and Olympic, Oceanic, Majestic, Teutonic, the heavy cruiser HMS Belfast, Pacific Steam Navigation’s Reine del Pacifico, Royal Mail Lines Andes, the Union-Castle motorships Capetown Castle and Durban Castle, and the turbo-electric P&O-Orient liner Canberra.
The transformation of this architecturally spectacular and historically important building celebrates not only Titanic, but also the other great achievements of Harland & Wolff.
Guided by the history and culture of the shipbuilding location, the hotel remains true to the story of Harland & Wolff. The magnificent dual Victorian Drawing Offices, with their three-storey high barrel-vaulted ceilings, are the only surviving example of this type of architecture in the world.
Working closely with conservation architects, traditional techniques such as lath and plaster were used on the walls. As much of the original fabric of the building was retained, with decorative features and artefacts reused wherever possible. Where it could not be retained, existing decorative moulding was recorded and replacements made.
The rooms on the ground floor of the Titanic Hotel remain the same as they would have been when the drawing rooms were operational. Most have now been turned into spaces for private dining and events, but they still retain the original features: the huge sash windows, wood panelling and built-in cabinetry… one room even contains a safe which the hotel has yet to open – no one knows what’s inside! I’m hoping it contains plans for a fourth Olympic class ship which was never built… wouldn’t it be great if it was then built and left on it’s maiden voyage from Belfast?
“You won’t tell my da you caught me running will you? He’ll skin me if you send me home – he bought this shirt and waistcoat.”
Once we were safely ensconced in our room, we went about checking out the views and settling in for the night. As my husband Alan and I are both vegan we asked the hotel if they could bring us up some dairy-free milk, which they very promptly did. It’s fantastic that so many hotels now carry vegan options. Alan then set the table up for supper – we had picked up some cupcakes and cookies at Eat Street – while I had a shower. The room was equipped with a kettle, cups and a variety of hot beverage options, which as someone who enjoys a hot drink before bed, I always look for.
One thing I found particularly smart in the bathroom was the tiled shelf, built into the wall beside the bath/shower – it was so handy having somewhere to set my toiletries! The shower was powerful and so relaxing. It was warm as soon as I turned it on, so no waiting for the water to come up to temperature. I do enjoy a hot shower, so normally the room is full of steam, but there was a strong fan on the ceiling which was excellent at keeping the room clear – a first for sure! And concerns that a noisy fan would keep us awake at night were swiftly alleviated by simply closing the bathroom door, which blocks out any noise from the fan.
After my relaxing shower I wrapped up snug in one the the robes and a pair of the slippers the hotel had laid out for us, then sat down to admire the wonderful night time view across Titanic Belfast and the shipyard while I enjoyed a hot mug of tea and a cupcake.
We decided to fill out the dine-in menu for breakfast as we would be up early to head to work. Breakfast is served from 7.30am and you just have to fill the menu out and hang it on your door before 4am.
The tester of any hotel is how well you slept – and I slept like a blooming baby! The bed was huge and super comfortable, the pillows were plump and not lumpy at all – I didn’t have to mash them into shape before laying down my head. Even at home I would wake at least once in the night, but here I didn’t. I slept right through until my alarm went off the next morning. So if you are looking for a great night’s sleep that will leave you refreshed, then the Titanic Hotel is the place for you.
We had ordered breakfast from the dine-in menu the previous night and it arrived to our room on a nifty little trolly and was set up for us on the table by the window overlooking Titanic Studios – we watched the crew working on a new set for Game of Thrones while we ate our vegan breakfast of grilled mushrooms, tomato and beans with hot toast. We also opted for a few continental options of fruit and cereal – a feast indeed.
It certainly isn’t every day Alan and I get to enjoy a leisurely coffee after a delicious cooked breakfast – we are normally rushing out the door forgetting to eat at all.
The hotel has a validating service to get a discount on car parking (which is located in Titanic Belfast across from the hotel) so make sure you take advantage of this the car park can be expensive.
Titanic Hotel Belfast is the perfect destination for a fantastic family break this easter in a beautiful historic setting. Spend some family time together in the vibrant Titanic Quarter, packed with amenities and activities for the whole family. Discover the legend of RMS Titanic at Titanic Belfast and enjoy a relaxing walk by the Slipways and SS Nomadic.
And with their Easter Family Break you can take it easy and enjoy:
- Overnight Stay in one of the Family Rooms
- Two Course Evening Meal in the Bar and Grill
- A Family Ticket to Titanic Belfast
- Full Irish Breakfast
- Complimentary Car Parking for 24 hours
From Only £325 per room!
Valid March 31 to April 8. Subject to availability. Price based on two adults and two children. To stay additional nights contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Standard Room prices start from £130 per night.