Northern Ireland Hotels

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The Merchant Hotel

Exterior

At a Glance

    Pros

  • opulent place with attentive reception and friendly bar staff
  • deep King Koil mattresses leave a mellow afterglow
  • history and architecture buffs will love it

    Cons

  • revelers from pubs and clubs in the surrounding streets detract from the internal serenity
  • at £15, breakfast room service is for high rollers only

The Merchant Hotel Review

A mix of Victorian grandeur and Art Deco–inspired modernity, this hotel—regarded by some as Ireland's most spectacular—was built as the headquarters of Ulster Bank in the mid-19th century and since opening in 2006 has led the way in style and sophistication. Once past the exuberantly Italianate facade, made of formidable Giffnock sandstone and crowned with a dramatic group of sculptures, you are greeted with a marble riot of tall urns, fruit, foliage designs, and plump ebullient cherubs on show, climaxing in the magnificent Great Room restaurant (the former banking hall). The Merchant added a sleek £16 million extension in 2010 that borrows from the Art Deco spirit of the 1920s and has been a huge success among the indulgent set. Upstairs, the ornate guest rooms come with antique furnishings, works of art, rich fabrics, and enormous flat-screen TVs. New are 37 bedrooms with a lighter, brighter color scheme, spacious Carrara-marble bathrooms, furniture from repro lines of Le Corbusier and Eileen Gray, cushions made by local fabric designer Jude Cassidy, and artworks by Belfast photographer Gavin Miller. Children can hear a recorded bedtime story, "The Children of Lir," specially narrated for the hotel by Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt. There's an underground spa with five treatment rooms and—should you feel the need—a champagne nail bar. The signature caviar facial costs £95; if you have anything left to spend afterward, repair to the cool Bert's Jazz Bar, which serves French bistro–style food in an informal setting; or splurge on a Jimmy Roosevelt cocktail in the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Lounge. Dinner in the Great Room, with Ireland's biggest chandelier, is a memorable experience. In 2013 the hotel bar acquired a bottle of Old Fashioned, a rare 50-year-old Jamaican rum (the world's oldest barrel-aged rum) from the Appleton Estate. If you fancy a glass it'll set you back £450—just ask the barman, they may still have some left—you won't find it anywhere else in Ireland. Sink into the rooftop hot tub and enjoy panoramic views over the city skyline.

    Hotel Details

  • 63 rooms, 5 suites.
  • Rate includes no meals.
  • Credit cards accepted.
Updated: 04-10-2013

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