'The Merchant' used to be the flagship headquarters of the Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland - a sumptuous Victorian Italianate building both inside and out, situated in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Thank goodness for the vision of the hoteliers and investors who restored this jewel from empty building in a forgotten part of town (well, certainly when I was at school in Belfast) back to a jaw-droppingly gorgeous casket of luxury.
There are lots of ways to enjoy the Merchant: afternoon tea with a glass of champers in the great former banking hall, cocktails (which should be controlled substances) in the long bar where the fire is usually lit and Irish art gazes down at you, dinner - again in the splendid banking hall, or sprawling decadently in your enormous room (and it's enormous bathroom). I have been lucky enough to eat, drink and stay here several times, as many times for business as fun, and quite honestly feel on each occasion as if I have strayed onto a glamorous film set.
Service is fun, snappy and impeccable. There are wild shoes and art for sale along lacquered corridors. The residents' bar is like a haute-night club's soft-lit decompression zone. And the best thing is, it is all completely and utterly Belfast. Yes, it's a treat and you may have to save up.
YOU HAVE TO GO!
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- Also Known As:
- Merchant Hotel Belfast