Regarding Accommodation it really depends on whereabouts you would like to be. If you are looking to stay in Belfast City for a while, A number of hotels come to mind, The Europa, The Merchant, Malmaison, Hilton would be the more expensive ones, if cheaper, Jurys Inn, Premier Inn's and Holiday Inn's are all centrally located.
Belfast pubs - Try the basement, duke of york, whites tavern, kitchen bar, Garrick, Robinsons and theres many more.
Regarding the north coast, Stay up there for the giants coast, if you can get a room in the Ramada hotel in Portrush there its worth it, located right in the middle of Portrush and everything is near by, Giants causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bright and the beaches up there are just amazing.
For eating in Portush.... The best place to eat is the RAMORE WINE BAR, its fantastic.
Can't add much to that!
Re hotels in Belfast another couple of central options would be the Fitzwilliam and Ten Square which are boutique hotels. If you are bringing a car, Tara Lodge is a great option. Lovely friendly B&B/guesthouse with free carparking. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre which is fine unless it is bucketing. It is located in between the centre and the University area.
For cheap and cheerful, I stayed in the Premier Inn Cathedral Quarter and it was great value for money and in a great location.
Can't comment much more on the traditional music as it can vary but Fibber magees (part of Robinsons), the John Hewitt and Kelly's Cellars also sometimes have traditional music on. And don't forget to have a drink in the historic Crown Liquor Saloon - and read up on the story of the crown symbol in the pub - only in Northern Ireland:)
Re restaurants - I am hoping Little Pumpkin may chip in! I know one which she (and my other half) both would recommend is Ginger Bistro. James Street South, Mourne Seafood Bar, Deane's, Made in Belfast and Cayenne all are worth looking at but there are lots of options. If you look on the Belfast TA forum which is located in the UK section, you will find quite a lot of info on restaurants.
Onto the north coast - I second dvross - The Ramore wine bar is the best locally for bistro food. Great atmosphere, big helpings and consistently good food. Menu etc online. If you go during holiday times or at the weekend, be prepared to wait up to an hour for a table. The Harbour Bistro (part of the same complex) is also good. Another option (which you can book) is 55 degrees north which does good teatime specials so is great value for money and has lovely panoramic views out to the Skerries. The Ramore wins it for me though - just go and enjoy a drink at the bar (or a cocktail at the cocktail bar) while you wait. It also has an Asian restaurant upstairs which you can book.
Another good restaurant locally is Tartine at the Distillers Arms in Bushmills.
Personally I feel Portrush is a little bit run-down as a town but it is still a very good base - and is best for restaurant choice. If you aren't staying at the weekend or a Wednesday, would seriously consider The Links B&B which is within easy walking distance of the town centre and has great views. It also gets great reviews on TA (and not just one post wonders).
For people wanting somewhere quieter, I would consider either the quirky Lime Park Cottages and Art Gallery near Armoy (if you have a car and don't mind being in a rural setting). Friends have stayed here and loved it. Again, very good reviews on TA and has featured on travel programmes.
There are also Ballylinney holiday Cottages which are almost right at the Causeway (an easy walk).
Or the Bayview hotel in Portballintrae
Note also the opening of the new Titanic exhibition opening at the end of March, well worth a visit. The Titanic walking tours also start from the Premier Inn. www.titanicwalk.comEdited: 27 January 2012, 13:22
Thanks for those good pointers!!
Thanks for that!
A lot to think about, thank you!!
See Ponaire took my name in vain (!), so I'd better chip in too.
Hubbie and I are regular visitors to Belfast for a night or two. My favourite hotel is the Fitzwilliam http://www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com/ for a number of reasons - 1st it's handy access and egress to the M1 for arriving/departing, I love the decor and the great staff, its location suits us for our favourite restaurant, Ginger, as Ponaire mentioned above. http://www.gingerbistro.com/ To be honest, James Street South and a host of other restaurants are on our list to visit, but we never can pull ourselves away from Ginger and Mourne Seafood http://www.mourneseafood.com/page/14/belfast/ Book either/both if they suit you as they are always busy (Mourne are first come, first served - no reservations for lunch).
We have also stayed in the Raddison Blu at the Gassworks, slightly out of town, ok, but better options closer to the action; Malmaison (good hotel too), and the Merchant (overated and overhyped imho). Jurys Inn is right across the road from the Fitzwilliam and is usually a few bob cheaper.
My favourite watering holes include The John Hewitt http://www.thejohnhewitt.com/ , a drink in the main bar of the Merchant Hotel (great cocktails) or if you are lucky to snag a booth in Berts Bar in the eveningtime, Cafe Vaudeville http://www.cafevaudeville.com/home , The infamous Crown Bar, which incidentally is just down the street from The Fitzwilliam/Jurys Inn http://www.crownbar.com/ and the bar in the Fitzwilliam (good STRONG cocktails there!). The Washington Bar on Howard Street is a nice spot too http://www.washingtonbelfast.com/main.php
Other places for a lite snack or lunch that we would tip into would be the Avoca Cafe www.avoca.ie/home/explore/stores/?id=11 or if you want a good quality/value burger, the New Zealand chain of Gourmet Burger Kitchen have a great selection of a huge variety of massive things (I have yet to finish one!) . http://www.gbk.co.uk/
Michael Deane has a number of establishments dotted around the city too, michaeldeane.co.uk/deanes-deli-bistro/menu/ and also Nicks Warehouse might be a place to suit as well http://www.nickswarehouse.co.uk/
Here's a link to a trip I did to (attempt to get to) the Giants Causeway a while ago. Few bits and pieces therein may help you with your plans.
Darn, you have just given me an urge to get back up there again - SOON! (and I was only there earlier this month!)
oops - forgot to link in the trip report tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186470-i491-k3008…
It looks like Belfast is the place to be for NZ burgers and strong cocktails. Just forget about the rest, lol!!Edited: 27 January 2012, 20:00
The OP's query was about Accommodation, nice Restaurants, Bars and a mention of the Giants Causeway.
Hmm, looks like I covered that ;-)
More than happy (and able) to offer more suggestions if needs be Steely :-)