Monday, January 15, 2018

House Belfast opens its hotel doors on Belfast's Botanic Avenue

More than a thousand new hotel bedrooms will become available in Belfast this calendar year. However, away from the major chains, one boutique hotel is planning to make its mark as it opens its doors on Botanic Avenue after a £2 million investment.

House Hotel is trading in a location that has been occupied by a hotel for at least 55 years – The York Hotel opened in around 1960 before Madison’s took over in 1995 – yet previous visitors may not recognise the inside of the building following its latest renovation.

If you frequented Madison’s, you may not recognise House Belfast once you walk in off the street past the outdoor garden area. The front four bedrooms have been removed to create an impressive double height atrium hosting a main bar dominated by a blossoming cherry tree, a separate whiskey bar and a coffee dock that can double as a cocktail bar at night. Upstairs there’s a balcony space and a quieter carpeted snug holding around forty five people that can be booked separately for parties and events that has its own bar.

I spoke to Michael Stewart on Friday afternoon while the finishing touches were being made to the new venture. He’s been overseeing the refit of the hotel which closed its doors back in April but opens again under its new brand today. With 31 years in the hospitality trade under his belt, Stewart describes House Belfast as “a great bar that has bedrooms” that will contribute to “a rising tide” on Botanic Avenue with other small hotels like Dukes at Queen and Town Square sitting alongside quality outlets like Kaffe O and Tribal Burger.

House Belfast’s d├ęcor and facilities are designed to attract a 25+ clientele rather than the students living in the area. As well as catering for overnight guests, House Belfast will be open to the public for breakfasts from 8am as well as lunch, afternoon tea (from springtime) and dinner.

A lot of effort has gone into the hotel’s interior design. The boutique-styled rooms have distinctive copper detailing and artwork that will appeal to business travellers wanting to shun the identikit big brand hotel rooms, as well as families exploring Belfast and enjoying family celebrations in the city. Baths have been replaced with luxurious rainforest showers, bedside tables are attractive pieces of furniture rather than chunky wooden boxes straight out of an IKEA catalogue. Rooms start at £110/night.

The old basement nightclub will be redeveloped later in the year and is likely to incorporate dining as well as retaining some element of dancing. But the emphasis is on staying classy, pitching at 25 year olds and older, and delivering a quality experience whether in the bar, dining, meeting spaces or accommodation.

Photos from House Belfast gallery plus author's own.

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