From food and drink to shopping and culture, find out why you should VISIT BELFAST this year …
Named by Lonely Planet as the City of 2018, Belfast has been undergoing a discreet renaissance. Tourism Ireland predicts 2.3m visitors will visit the capital in 2018. Two new hotels opened late last year – The Titanic and Bullitt – while the boutique The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn was named Hotel of the Year, the latter a favourite with CS Lewis. On the radar is the opening of The Grand Central Hotel by Hastings group, which invested £53m in the project. The original Grand Central Hotel was built in 1893 and was claimed to be the finest hotel in Ireland. Former guests included Winston Churchill and The Beatles. Sir William Hastings, chairman of the Hastings Group reveals, “The new branding for the hotel will incorporate the seahorse, part of Belfast’s coat of arms which celebrates the city’s maritime history. Old photos from the glory days of the Grand Central show the seahorse motif on menus and plates and our new interpretation of this classic Belfast emblem is a reminder of the new Grand Central’s connection with its elegant past.” A must-see for fans of the series is the Game of Thrones tapestry at the Ulster Museum, until March.
Belfast address book
For coffee: Café Parisian, Donegal Square North; with authentic French dishes is inspired by its namesake café on the Titanic; Miel et Moi, Lisburn Road, also has a French vibe and is close to a hub of fashion boutiques including MaxMara, Velvet and Blush.
For lunch: The Gallery, Dublin Road; the art collection is complemented by a moreish bistro menu.
For dinner: EDO, Upper Queen Street; tapas sharing dishes and minimalist surroundings make this a hot spot, with food by chef Jonny Elliott.
For quirky bars: Muriel’s, on Church Lane; this funky gin bar is a Saturday night favourite; The Dirty Onion, Hill Street; upstairs is the Yardbird restaurant, downstairs is the bar, both housed in one of Belfast’s oldest buildings.
For shopping: Books Paper Scissors, on Stranmillis Road, is a lovely independent bookshop with a good stationery edit; Nineteenthirty Atelier, for men wanting bespoke shirts and designs inspired by Belfast is a must-visit; Atelier Interior Design, Wellington Place, has an eclectic selection of modern and artisan design furniture.
For art: The MAC; this month it is hosting the only exhibition in Ireland of Gilbert and George.
For adrenalin junkies: The new Vertigo Indoor Skydive Centre in the Titanic Quarter; £45stg per person.
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