Paddy McKillen Jnr launches bid for first Belfast hotel

Press Up Group reveal plan for 91-bedroom hotel with a rooftop pool next to the Ulster Hall

Image released in support of the proposal for a new 91-bedroom hotel on Belfast's Bedford Street, operated by the Press Up Group.
Image released in support of the proposal for a new 91-bedroom hotel on Belfast's Bedford Street, operated by the Press Up Group.

THE Dublin-based Press Up Group has launched a bid to develop a new hotel next to the Ulster Hall in Belfast.

The hospitality business is proposing to turn 34-44 Bedford Street into a 91-bedroom hotel, under ‘The Dean’ brand, potentially creating up to 170 jobs.

The group already operates three hotels under the brand in Dublin, Cork and Galway, with another planned in Birmingham.

The 19th century Belfast building is currently home to the popular Harlem café and a retail premises. Two of the street level units are empty, but were recently occupied by ‘Deanes Deli’, which bears no relation to the Press Up brand.

The restaurant has not reopened since it was closed by the well-known chef Michael Deane during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Press Up is headed by Paddy McKillen Jnr, the son of one of west Belfast’s most successful businessmen, Paddy McKillen Snr, who previously owned Claridge’s hotel in London.

The planning application for the hotel has been submitted by Bedford Way Ltd, owned by Oakmount, a sister company to Press Up.

In a statement, the company said: “While planning permission is being sought, the building’s current owners will continue to accommodate existing tenants for as long as possible.”

The Press Up group’s proposal for the Bedford Street building is largely based on The Dean’s hotel template, which includes a ‘Sophie’s rooftop restaurant.

New for the hotel chain is the proposal for 13 metre rooftop pool.

The site was previously part of an abandoned office-led development bid by Domus UK, controlled by US-based fund, NCH Capital.

Neil McShane, of property consultancy INPRIO, represents the current owners.

“The owners have been custodians of this family jewel for many years but recognise that they need to pass the baton to a developer in order to preserve the building and realise its full potential," he said.

“The future of this unique building is extremely important to them and whilst there have been numerous approaches over the years, for various uses, they believe the plans for a boutique hotel is the best way to fulfil their determination to rejuvenate the existing building.”

Press Up’s eight Irish hotels include The Mayson, The Devlin and The Clarence Hotel in Dublin, as well as Glasson Lakehouse in Westmeath and Butler Arms in Kerry.

The group also controls an extensive portfolio of restaurants, bars, gyms and even a cinema.

Jessica Carlyle-Clarke, from the hospitality group, said: “We are delighted to move forward with plans to bring The Dean to Belfast – a capital city that is as vibrant and fresh as the brand itself.

“We are all about celebrating iconic cities, creating beautiful spaces within them that complement old and new.

“This site is one of cultural significance, right next to the Ulster Hall, a venue that speaks to Belfast’s built heritage. This is an exciting time for the group as it looks to develop its footprint across the UK and Ireland.”