Breaks: Five Star hospitality in the heart of Belfast city at The Fitzwilliam Hotel
Those who live or work in Belfast might overlook it as a potential weekend break destination. However, a short stay in the luxurious Fitzwilliam Hotel is an ideal and eye-opening way to enjoy the best of the city in comfort and style, as Andrew Watters discovered
AN OASIS of luxury in the very heart of Belfast, The Fitzwilliam Hotel is the perfect location for a city break. Whether you intend to get out and see the sights, hit the town or enjoy great food, you can't fail to enjoy relaxing and unwinding in the five-star surroundings on Great Victoria Street.
Recently awarded Five Stars by the AA, The Fitzwilliam Hotel is a super-elegant masterpiece located beside the Grand Opera House, just around the corner from the City Hall and includes fabulous guestrooms, delicious food, a cosy bar where cocktails are expertly made to order and great service all underpinned by a friendly welcome and a can-do attitude from the staff.
There is valet parking, but with the Great Victoria Street train station and Europa bus station just around the corner, you can afford to forget about your car keys for once, take a load off and relax in this modern glam, Art Deco boutique hotel.
On our Sunday stay we enjoyed a city-view room kitted out with custom-made furniture and packed with thoughtful, unexpected touches including complimentary high-speed wireless internet access, a workstation, chocolates, playing cards, water, bath robes, slippers, tea and coffee-making facilities etc – there were even matches to light the candles in the spacious bathroom.
I was tempted to have a candle-lit soak in the tub but decided to check out the Christmas market instead. After a pleasant stroll around the city centre we returned to the Fitzwilliam looking forward to sampling the delights of dinner in their renowned restaurant.
Recently awarded a Rosette by the AA, the restaurant is comfortable, relaxed and atmospheric – and the food is superb; venison and trout and hake and halibut and duck.
The menus are carefully thought-out using the finest local produce, passionately created, lovingly prepared and proudly presented and the Fitzwilliam Hotel is a member of Taste of Ulster & Restaurants Association of Ireland.
For my main course, I had the chicken. My wife had steak it was all washed down with an excellent bottle of wine from the restaurant's extensive cellar. Afterwards, I enjoyed a mouth-watering chocolate orange torte with double chocolate ice cream and orange crumb… It was the kind of dessert you never forget and my wife enjoyed a decadent cheese board which included a delicious Guinness cheese.
Maybe that was why we decided to check out the hotel bar, I'd heard quite a bit about it and we certainly weren't disappointed: the bar has been refurbished recently, but it retains its unique city charm with copper-clad lighting, windows out into the busy Belfast streets, crystal glasses and almost every wine and champagne still available by the glass.
Whether it's a Cosmopolitan, a Director, an Old Fashioned or whatever your favourite tipple is, it's a safe bet they'll be able to rustle it up, leaving you to relax and enjoy your drink, enjoy fun with friends or just watch the world go by.
Fed, watered and well looked after, it's a treat to return to the room and relax in the king-size bed and, as the city begins to wind down outside, you drift off, gently, effortlessly into the deepest sleep at the end of the day.
After a great night's sleep, the following morning was bright and sunny and there was nothing like a stroll into the city before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Everything is catered for, whether it's the full Irish, a range of cereals or a continental breakfast.
And there was still time for some Christmas shopping. As the rain came down outside, the attentive door staff produced two umbrellas for us before we headed off to spend our hard-earned in good spirits after a thoroughly enjoyable night.
The Fitzwilliam Hotel is a welcome break from the norm. Many of us work in Belfast but rarely take the time to visit the city and explore it without the pressures of having to get to the office or get to the train or the bus.
And the hotel's service doesn't stop after check-out. When we got home, my wife realised she'd forgotten something in the hotel: a phonecall to the helpful duty manager was enough to locate the item. She offered to post it, but I collected it at reception the following day. This was just another example of the impressive attention to detail and the effort the staff go to ensure good service and a comfortable stay.
For a heart-warming stay in the heart of Belfast, the Fitzwilliam Hotel is the place to go.