My wife recently surprised me with a night in The Merchant to celebrate my birthday. Though we've stayed there a couple of times before and have always found the hotel absolutely wonderful, for this visit, we were really able to take in the extraordinary new wing and the amazing spa.
As it was my birthday, we arrived early so that we could go out in Belfast as my wife had some shopping expeditions planned. I pulled up to The Merchant, hoping they'd be able to accommodate us with parking even though we were there far too early to check in, and I was incredibly surprised when the doormen greeted me with recognition and then the reception staff greeted me by name, all wishing me a Happy Birthday.
It really meant a great deal to me and I was aware the staff at the hotel were more than attentive and had even done their research to make our one night stay memorable. It was certainly a great opening act for the rest of our visit!
Though we had arrived quite early and were not expecting our room to be ready, the reception staff made us feel completely at ease while they briefly checked and then quickly informed us that they had our room ready and then had the doorman standing by with our bags, ready to guide us to our room... In fact this all happened so smoothly, and I was so surprised they'd remembered us and taken the time to mark my birthday AND had our room ready early, that I didn't even notice my car being whisked away to secure parking.
I realise I'm going on a bit here, but seriously, it was such a well oiled machine and it all happened so smoothly.... It's just that nowadays, even in 5 star hotels, you just don't always see this Old World service.
Our Art Deco themed room was absolutely stunning, with loads of great touches like a separate sitting area, a small dressing room with a lit mirror, and a HUGE bathroom with both a rain shower and a large cast iron bathtub, perfect for a long relaxing soak. After going out into Belfast on foot as the Merchant is located right in the heart of Belfast, we ended up ordering some snacks from room service and a couple of drinks and enjoying one of the free movies available as part of the in room entertainment service before dinner... all of it so much fun and so very relaxing.
We went on to enjoy a wonderful time having dinner that evening at Bert's Bar, where the very talented jazz band sang "Moon River" instead of Happy Birthday for me as it's my favourite song, and the waiter brought me out a a lovely plate of sweets, personalised with Happy Birthday.
We got back to our room to find not only the room straightened and freshened as part of the turn down service, but also that the staff had left me balloons and chocolate for my birthday. It was such a nice and personal touch and it really made us feel special.
In the morning we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast, which room service quickly arranged for us in our room. We lounged around so much in fact that we needed to shift our spa time window, which was easily done. In fact, reception arranged our check out and took care of our luggage so we could easily visit the spa and then spend the rest of the afternoon in Belfast before we departed later that evening.
And the spa was fantastic... quiet, luxurious, restful and glorious. Seriously, you want this experience. Worth every penny and the spa taster package is well worth the money and a great way to dip your toes in what is available.
When we finally departed after spending the afternoon in Belfast, the doormen brought our vehicle around, took all our bags out and wished us well, while welcoming us back. We found some lovely candies left in our car from the Merchant as well, a great final touch to an extraordinary stay.
I've been travelling internationally for many, many years and have been fortunate to stay at some of the world's finest hotels. The Merchant not only deserves a place in that elite group... it actually sticks out as wonderfully delightful experience, catering to the individual while providing the service you expect from a top notch hotel.
We'll definitely be back. Highly recommended.
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- Also Known As:
- Merchant Hotel Belfast