Planning a romantic getaway to Belfast in Northern Ireland during the low season, I was hoping to easily find a nice hotel full of character that wouldn’t cost a fortune. I soon realised that even if the days were getting shorter, hotel rooms in Belfast were not getting any cheaper especially at the weekend.
That’s when loyalty programs from hotel booking websites show their worth. Being a loyal user of hotel booking platform hotels.com, I managed to salvage my romantic plans with a free night at a stylish boutique hotel in Belfast: the Malmaison Hotel.
I had wanted to visit Belfast for a while. Moving away from the image of a city under attack ingrained in people’s mind since the Troubles, Belfast had in recent years opened its arms to tourism. With its bustling centre, quality restaurants, museums and attractions, Belfast made a great destination for the weekend, just 2 hours by train from Dublin.
The Malmaison was a mere 15 minute walk from the newly renamed Lanyon Place railway station, making the location ideal if you were to travel from Dublin by train. It was also a 15 minute stroll from Great Victoria Street railway station and Belfast central bus station.
The hotel was excellently located on Victoria Street, a busy thoroughfare, just minutes away from Victoria Square, Belfast main shopping district. Around the corner was one of Belfast’s most famous landmarks: the Albert Memorial Clock, a little Big Ben as I liked to call it.
Probably my favourite part of the city, the Cathedral Quarter’s cobbled streets - trendy home to many great bars and restaurants - were also at a walkable distance. What about the Titanic Belfast? The leading tourist attraction was just a 20 minute walk from the Malmaison.
Address: 34-38 Victoria Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Checking In at a Boutique Hotel in Belfast
The Malmaison Hotel owed its name to the Château de Malmaison, a French castle formerly the property of Joséphine de Beauharnais, wife of Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte. She spent a fortune renovating her castle and turned it into a magnificent residence. Tired of these international hotel chains offering the same beige on beige decor that leave you with a sense of deja-vu, I was hoping the French touch would give the Malmaison Belfast the character I was looking for.
With its richly carved, arched windows and historic facade, the Malmaison Hotel stood out immediately. Unlike many new hotels in town, the Malmaison Belfast was a listed building. A former warehouse dating from the 19th century, the building had been magnificently converted into a boutique 4-star hotel.
The hotel’s 62 rooms from Standard to Executive Suites had been given a modern design that firmly anchored the establishment into the 21st century while still retaining some of its original features. Iron pillars and the original beams were visible throughout. Character, you asked? You have it!
My room, like the rest of the hotel, was dressed with shades of dark colours giving a sense of intimacy perfect for couples on a romantic weekend. The sleek, black furniture gave the room its modern look that contrasted with the old beam supporting the ceiling. The room had a spotless bathroom and incredibly comfortable king-size bed.
Dining at the Malmaison Belfast
The hotel had a bar and a convenient brasserie located on the ground floor those name “Chez Mal” recalled the French inspiration behind the Malmaison brand. The character of the place was again brought forward by an incredibly high ceiling supported by massive iron pillars and old beams. Candles on each table added a touch of romanticism and intimacy to the place.
My table was attended by friendly and experienced staff. I ordered a reasonably priced falafel and chickpea burger paired with delicious Spanish dry cider. As for dessert, the (very!) hot chocolate pudding with salted caramel ice-cream was an absolute feast.
Finding a hotel in Belfast that is both affordable and memorable is a difficult thing to do. I was lucky to experience the Malmaison Belfast at a fraction of the cost thanks to Hotels.com’s loyalty program. My stay at this beautiful boutique hotel was flawless and stress-free and I would recommend it to anyone, if you have the budget!
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