If you are the sort of person who likes contemporary design and a lively atmosphere, then you will love this boutique hotel located right in the city center.
Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast, has quite the tumultuous past. From ethnic tensions to religious separations, this city wasn’t on the top of many tourists lists…but wow how times have changed!Now considered one of the best places in the UK for a city break, Belfast is perfectly safe now, and provides you with the opportunity to experience another of the unique countries which make up Britain. While we were visiting the area, we decided to hop across the Irish sea and experience it for ourselves.
Central Belfast is an energetic place, and is small enough to easily walk around. Many of the buildings are grand Victorian edifices which give the streets a regal feel, although these give way to interesting modern builds towards the river and the regenerated docklands. Old and traditional pubs line the streets alongside more contemporary restaurants and cafes. It’s a wonderful mixture of old and new and easily one of my favorite cities in Britain.
During our trip to Belfast, we really wanted to be in the center of town, close to everything that was going on. So when we came across Bullitt Hotel, located on Church Lane, a pedestrian only street, it was a pretty easy choice for us. The location couldn’t be any better and we were just minutes away from the majority of the city’s tourist attractions and three blocks from the river front. From the outside the hotel is not immediately recognizable but a small vertical sign showed us the way.
If Bullitt is understated from outside, it is anything but, once you step inside. The entrance gives way to a large courtyard which forms the beating heart of the hotel. It is set up as a bar/lounge area complete with a large sculpture made from repurposed whisky barrels and patio heaters to help ward off the Northern Irish cold. Pretty much all day everyday this space is filled with guests enjoying a coffee as well as each other’s company. At night it switches into pub-mode, and the cocktails and craft beers come out, served at the bar constructed from shipping containers.
There is no question that this is a trendy place. There is nothing traditional about it, and instead it has an extremely contemporary almost industrial feel, with exposed steel columns and roof pipes sitting alongside abstract art and quirky furniture. As you pass through the glass doors from the courtyard, you find yourself in the indoor lounge section which also serves as the hotel reception. This was my favorite place to pass the time and I loved the abundance of natural light, the comfy couches, and the awesome Steve McQueen poster which without fail, made you feel like a bit of a badass every time you passed it!
While this is far from being a standard low budget hotel, it’s modern, irreverent theme means that this is not an old-school luxury affair and you shouldn’t expect well dressed porters to help you carry your luggage. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable but little details such as refilling the amenities do sometimes go overlooked, and a couple of times we noticed laundry bags left out in the corridors. This is all part of the style of the place and it is not necessarily a terrible thing, but if you are looking for no expenses spared accommodation then you should probably know this before booking.
We originally stayed in one of the ‘Dinky’ rooms – the smallest category on offer – however, we soon realized that it was just too small for us and all our luggage. There are no closets, so by the time both of us were in the room and our large suitcase, we had no room at all. We moved into a ‘Comfy’ (the next size up) and although this was big enough, there still no closets so our stuff was all out in the open.
The room itself was well decorated with funky bedding, some interesting artwork, and a mustard colored carpet. Although we were in a pretty busy area (with lots of pubs nearby), the pedestrianized lane outside meant that our room was nice and peaceful which was a definite plus. The size of the room – as well as the nearby pubs and overall vibe – mean that really this place makes the perfect place for a short stay and would appeal particularly to younger people. One final touch which we really liked was that each room comes with a bag which you can hang on your exterior door handle. Should you choose to do so, every morning you will find it filled with fresh juice, granola, yoghurt, and banana, and we enjoyed having a relaxing breakfast in bed each morning.
As I said before, the hotel appears to be aimed at the cooler, younger crowd, and as such it may appeal to this sort of clientele more than others. The restaurant (Taylor and Clay) however, will appeal to everyone and definitely worth a stop. If you happen to be in Belfast you should visit even if you aren’t staying at Bullitt, and I would even go as far as to guess that this must be one of the best restaurants in the city. We had both lunch and dinner there and it was always busy with people. This gives it a great atmosphere but also means that you should be sure to make a reservation!
While they serve a bit of everything, the restaurant’s special feature is the Asador grill which uses wooden logs to chargrill their cuts of meat to perfection, and to infuse them with a wonderful smokey flavor. They even use it to cook their vegetables and these are delicious on top of a garden salad. While there, make sure you try the Wagyu beef burger, as well as the roasted steak (which is served with harissa), and also the flatbreads which make the perfect light lunch meal. It is worth noting as well, that if you want something more substantial for breakfast than the granola and yoghurt they bring to your door, Taylor and Clay also offer a breakfast menu which I’m sure will be excellent.
Being in such a good spot, you can easily experience all that Belfast has to offer while staying at Bullitt. There are more shops, pubs, and restaurants nearby then you will ever need and many sit on Church Lane right outside the door. In keeping with the style of the hotel there is a cool tattoo parlour and piercing shop just down the road amongst pubs and cafes. The city has a very rich history and despite its past troubles, it is a vibrant place and a lot of fun! It is worth taking some time to wander and to see the river, Donegall Square, and the cathedral. When you start to get cold, duck into one of the many pubs dotted around the city – the Crown and the Duke of York are two good ones located close to the hotel. If, you are a fan of the film, or like me did every school presentation on it, then you can’t leave without checking out the Titanic museum.
Bullitt is an exciting place, and makes a great place to stay if they are in Belfast for a short stay. It will appeal particularly to younger people and to those who want to be in the heart of things. With its great restaurant, busy bar, and trendy design, this is a great place to make friends and have fun!
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