It’s been over 15 years since The Troubles in Northern Ireland ended with the signing of a Peace Treaty that concluded three decades of political conflict and economic strife. Although The Troubles are officially over, the history of those times combine with Belfast’s rich maritime history, to create an interesting landscape for visitors.
Malmaison Belfast is currently a luxury boutique hotel, but formerly it was two seed warehouses. Some of the original seed warehouse features have been retained, including iron pillars, heavy beams, and the clever looking carved stone gargoyles who look after your comings and goings. Looking at the high arched entry doors to the hotel – tall and wide – you can imagine the seed wagons coming through to pick up their loads at market.
Inside the lobby are high ceilings with exposed beams, creating a dark rich feel. Offsetting this heavy feeling is maritime decor in the common areas, portholes, ship candles,etc., artfully combining two historic industries of Belfast. Stop by MALBAR, just off the right side of the lobby, for something to drink and a quick bite to eat. For a full meal try Brasserie, which not only provides morning lattes, but boasts the biggest Sunday brunch in the city.
The hotel has 64 guest rooms and two suites, all featuring the expected upscale amenities, and a delightful surprise – free wifi. The bathroom toiletries are full size, and guest are encouraged to take them home; a nice treat. The hotel also offers meetings rooms that lean toward the untraditional, with brick walls and portholes.
Big kudos to the front desk staff who not only sped the check-in process along, but also were quick to answer questions, give directions, make suggestions for meals and sightseeing, and to ask how we were enjoying our stay. Sure, that’s their job and it’s what they should be doing, but their gracious help and attitude was much more that we often receive when traveling.
Malmaison Belfast is centrally located, with easy walking access to the city center and central business district. Shopping, restaurants and pubs, along with many of the sights, including St. Anne’s Cathedral and Belfast City Hall (free tours are offered) are also nearby. The Titanic Experience is a short cab ride away. For a real treat, let the front desk help you arrange a Black Cab Tour. Structured tours are available, but my recommendation is to arrange a private tour that focuses on your personal interests. We loved seeing the famous murals from The Troubles era.
The Malmaison Belfast is a little slice of Belfast history, and is located at 34-38 Victoria Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Midweek room nights average around £235/night, weekends are about half that price. There are great value-added weekend packages starting at £109 per night for two nights minimum stay. These packages include dinner, cocktail, and breakfast. You can also compare rates and book through Expedia.
Remember: Belfast is in Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and uses the British pound as its currency. Some ATMs can also provide withdrawals in Euro. If you’re coming from, or going to, Dublin (in the Republic of Ireland, it uses the Euro), it may be helpful to have some of both currencies.
Photo credit: Hotel pictures from Malmaison Belfast; Belfast City Hall courtesy of author