Belfast is a LONG way from the town littered with bullet holes that you saw on the news during 'The Troubles', it's now thought of as a great place for a lively city break, or else home of the new Titanic Museum. These days the best places to stay in Belfast are a mix of hip haunts and glorious old traditionals.
The shimmering and angular Titanic Belfast museum doesn't just occupy a prime piece of docklands real estate, site of the shipyard where the Titanic was built. It's also surrounded by its own quarter now, the Titanic Quarter, a large scale regeneration of the docks and Belfast's incredible maritime landmarks. They've cleverly retained the huge cranes, Samson and Goliath, which were used in the construction of many great ships, and added several floating museums, including HMS Caroline.
Beyond the Titanic are the relics of 'The Troubles', the white, pillared, neoclassical facade of Stormont, the Ulster Museum and Crumlin Road Gaol, which offer a fascinating reminder of this city's violent past.
But these days there's more of a gentle melding of Irish and British culture, which makes for a unique city, totally unlike London or Dublin. And Belfast's years as a no-go zone means its relatively unspoilt and undiscovered.
One of the best ways to discover Belfast is on one of the city's now famous Black Taxi Tours, where an experienced driver, usually one who worked through 'The Troubles' will show you their city, complete with personal details. Another very personal tour are the Belfast Mural Tours.
But Belfast isn't just about history and grand Victorian architecture, modern Belfast is home to a number of impressive art galleries and plenty of buzzing bars. Our pick of the best places to stay in Belfast are perfect bases for making the most of this fascinating city,
Excellent city centre choice at a reasonable price. Elegant interiors behind a 19th century traditional facade. Georgian rooms with mahogany canopy beds as well as modern, simple rooms. Excellent food at the bar and restaurant and a small hotel cafe. Great value and good location.
Fashionable boutique hotel in a Grade 1 listed building, located in central Belfast. Comfortable rooms and excellent steakhouse and bar mean that this is the perfect place for relaxation after a busy day of business or pleasure in the Northern Irish capital. A hip spot in the centre of the city.
A traditional property located in a leafy corner of Holywood yet within easy reach of Belfast city centre. Rooms are decorated in a classic style with antique pieces, rich colours, fabrics and vibrant wallpapers. There is a manicured garden and terrace. Enjoy the famous, first class 'Titanic' menu!
Luxury hotel and spa overlooking Belfast Lough. Opulent interiors, great food and five star service. Ideal for a short spoiling break to Northern Ireland if you don't want to be in the heart of Belfast, and great for business travellers.
Stunning transformation of a former 19th century bank. Eclectic contemporary rooms evoke a romantic Napoleon III-style Paris - luscious velvets and silks, rich wool carpets, gold and red chintz wallpapers, and statement artwork. Superb bar, spa and gym plus a live jazz bar. Divine.