Belfast is probably not the first place that comes to mind for a romantic getaway. However, there are plenty of romantic places to visit in Northern Ireland, and the centre of Belfast is full of beautiful old buildings and fantastic restaurants. It’s also amazing value compared to most city centre breaks. With Valentine’s Day not far away, this could be an excellent option for a romantic break. You can read more about it in my Forbes article on Belfast here.
I paid for my own stay but was given an upgrade to a suite for free on my first visit.
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The centre of Belfast is pretty much completely walkable, and the Merchant Hotel has a central location close to Commercial Court, which has an umbrella art installation as well as pubs and cafes. From here, you can also walk to City Hall, Victoria Square and St George’s Market.
It is also only around 10 minutes to Belfast City Airport, which BA fly into.
If you have seen photos of the front of The Merchant and think that you don’t fancy lugging your case up the steps, fear not, the main hotel entrance is step-free.
I found the check-in staff very friendly throughout my stay. The process could have been a bit quicker, but the staff were keen to explain everything about the hotel. They warned me that there would be a turn-down service so that I could put the do not disturb sign on if I was trying to get ready.
The hotel has two halves – the older part and the more modern addition, which is Art Deco in style.
If you have seen the Sky TV series The Lovers (if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), this is the suite that the main character stayed in. If you are looking for a romantic break with someone special, rooms don’t come much more romantic than this. It is more of a Junior Suite as it does not have a separate living room, but the room is large and feels spacious with its high ceilings and tall windows.
The room had a tea and coffee area with a treat of what tasted like homemade shortbread biscuits. There was no Nespresso machine, but instead, there were coffee bags so you could get a proper cup of coffee.
I also booked a package that included a bottle of prosecco. It was very relaxing lounging on the sofa with a glass of fizz in such an opulent room.
The bed was very comfortable, although there was a little street noise outside as you are in the centre of town. Despite being an old building, there was a plug socket near the bed, although there was no USB port.
The bathroom definitely had a big wow factor, both with its enormous size and its large Victorian-style soaking tub. There were also twin sinks with plenty of room for your own toiletries and a walk-in shower.
The toiletries looked like their own brand and were a generous size with art deco-style packaging. They had a very neutral scent but seemed good quality.
Art deco room
The Art Deco style rooms are more like a junior suite in size with a small sitting area. These are usually slightly more expensive than the Victorian entry-level room but may be more your thing if you prefer something a bit more modern. This would also be much better if you wanted to work as there was a good-sized desk that I found comfortable for working at. I also found this room a bit quieter. Some of them also have a sofa.
The art deco rooms have one unique feature that I loved. The wardrobe opens to reveal a Hollywood-style dressing table.
Like the other room, there was no Nespresso but a kettle with coffee bags. I liked that you could have fresh milk delivered. That, for me, is one of the hallmarks of a true luxury hotel rather than the long-life stuff.
I actually preferred the bathroom in this room as it still had a large bath that I enjoyed a long bedtime soak in. Although there was only one sink, it had a lot of space around it for storing your bits and bobs, more than in the Healey Suite.
Again, there was a walk-in shower, but it felt larger than the other one, and the marble tiles gave it a luxurious feel.
This is one of the highlights of the hotel with its Great Room restaurant, which serves fine dining in the evening as well as breakfast. There is also a pub, the Cocktail bar and Bert’s Jazz Club, where you can also dine.
This was served in The Great Room, certainly one of the most grand places I have eaten breakfast, and was a lovely way to start the day in style.
Breakfast was included in my room rate, and I liked that everything was a la carte. Here is the menu:
I went for the scrambled egg with smoked salmon and the fruit. The scrambled egg was perfectly cooked and creamy, something that seems to elude many hotel chefs.
Bert’s Jazz Club
I ate at Bert’s Jazz Club and really loved the experience. It would be a great date night venue. The music was more soft jazz of the Rat Pack and Harry Connick Junior style. They also offer brunch at the weekend.
The menu was bistro-style classics. I started with the mussels, which were perfectly cooked, large and plump. I also tried the parsnips crisps, which were delicious but a very generous portion.
For the main course, I had the ribeye steak, which was cooked to my liking, and I upgraded to the truffle chips, which tasted of proper truffle rather than cheap truffle oil.
I absolutely loved the atmospheric cocktail bar with its open fire and innovative cocktails. The barmen were also very friendly and professional.
The cocktails are named after their flavour profile, and I tried a Savoury, which was fantastic. It was a bit like a Bloody Mary martini made with tomato water. They also had some lovely, rather moreish bar snacks, which were readily topped up
It had a lovely fresh taste but plenty of savoury punch to it. The Creamy was also a great after-dinner liquid dessert.
Another of my favourite features was the rooftop hot tub, which had great views over the city. There is also a spa which offers treatments and other facilities such as Thermal Loungers, Sauna, Aroma Steam Room and Drench showers.
There is a decent gym at the hotel although it is not open 24 hours but closes at 8 pm during the week and 6.30pm at the weekends.
Pricing and offers
It is worth checking out the offers page as the packages can be good value. I had one including a bottle of Prosecco which costs from £239 per room with breakfast for a Victorian room. Given this is the general starting price anyway, it’s worth looking at the offers. If you want to include dinner in Berts or the pub, prices start from £256 including breakfast.
I had already fallen in love with the hotel, having seen it on The Lovers TV series, and it did not disappoint in real life. I loved the drama and grandeur of the older parts of the hotel but also enjoyed the art deco rooms, which felt glamorous. The cocktail bar was one of the best I have been to (and I’ve been to a lot); if you like a relaxed bar with fantastic cocktails and a luxurious old-world feel.
I would also return to Bert’s Jazz Club as it was something a bit different from just having dinner, and the food was as good as the entertainment.
I would definitely highly recommend the hotel and would love to stay there again. You can check prices and find more details here.
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