Visitor numbers have soared in Northern Ireland in recent years, with Belfast attracting the lion’s share. And it’s easy to see why the city is so popular, with its fascinating history and culture, glorious architecture and vibrant nightlife, as well as its link to the Titanic.
New hotels are springing up hither and yon – more than 3,700 additional rooms are being planned for the city centre, which will more than double the current capacity – but they will have to go some to match Ten Square Hotel. Perfectly located in the heart of the city centre, it occupies what was once a row of Georgian townhouses directly opposite Belfast City Hall.
Budget or boutique?
Definitely boutique and sumptuous. From the floral displays in reception, to the customised stationery in the rooms, discreet luxury is matched by home-from-home hospitality.
Ten Square Hotel has 23 bespoke bedrooms, 48 signature rooms and four suites. A luxurious multi-bed group suite is launching soon, while a 66-bedroom extension has also been given the go-ahead. The rooms our family of five occupy are large but well-proportioned, with two king-size double beds in each. Stylish spotlighting provides illumination and the colour scheme is sleek grey. There is a dressing area, a writing desk, a couple of armchairs, plenty of storage space for clothes and luggage, a fridge, a safe, an iron and the all-important tea and coffee-making facilities. The modern bathroom has a bath with overhead shower, as well as a separate shower space. Somewhat lacking is a view, as the windows are translucent rather than transparent, which has a slightly discombobulating effect when you throw open the curtains and can’t see what the weather is like outside.
Wining and dining
The Linen Bar is a roomy and informal space serving drinks and tasty food (such as bang bang chicken, club sandwich and pan-fried salmon) throughout the day and evening. It seems especially popular with light-lunching businesspeople, and also has a big screen for showing sports events. Later on the Tuesday evening, a trio of musicians played traditional folk tunes, but packed up at 9pm, just as we were getting into the swing of it.
Leading off the Linen Bar is Jospers Restaurant, home to an eponymous charcoal grill which produces divine meaty treats such as ribeye, sirloin and fillet steaks, and tender racks of ribs. The menu includes a selection of seafood and vegetarian dishes, but carnivores will especially enjoy Burger Night on Mondays. The hotel works with as many local suppliers as possible, and the proof is in the eating – top notch.
Worth getting out of bed for
After feasting on a full Irish or healthy continental breakfast in the hotel, cross the road and pop into Belfast City Hall, where a new exhibition showcases the city’s extraordinary past and present. Entry is free.
Then head to Titanic Belfast to learn the story of the famous liner and go aboard SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star Line vessel (titanicbelfast.com). Meanwhile, the Ulster Museum (nmni.com) is home to a collection of art, history and natural science – it’s also free and has plenty to keep youngsters entertained.
Alternatively, if your feet need a rest, call local guide Billy Scott (077 9860 2401, touringaroundbelfast.com) for a highly entertaining taxi tour, and treat yourself to a Guinness at the ornate Crown Liquor Saloon afterwards.
The bedrooms have more USB/mobile charging points than you can shake an iPhone at, while our children enjoyed their complimentary strawberry smoothies at breakfast. And what kindly concierge Patsy doesn’t know about Belfast and its wider environs isn’t worth knowing. His tip about taking a trip to Strangford Lough and Portaferry was spot on.
Guest book comments
A superb, stylish hotel that’s perfect for exploring a truly amazing city.
An overnight stay in a standard guestroom with continental breakfast starts at £145 B&B for two people. Ten Square Hotel, 10 Donegall Square South, Belfast BT1 5JD, 028 9024 1001, www.tensquare.co.uk