Belfast’s Merchant Hotel isn’t the easiest place to find. Tucked away in the city’s charming Cathedral Quarter, this grand hotel sits on the corner of two narrow one-way cobblestone streets. But, oh, is it worth the search.
After several months of hearing about how incredible the hotel was, I made plans to see for myself what the fuss was all about. I couldn’t imagine staying the night—rates start at £140 and can go as high as £430—so I opted for drinks in the bar with a group of friends.
The Italianate-style building is impressive to say the least. Once the headquarters of The Ulster Bank, The Merchant is substantial and evokes a feeling of reverence. Lit by a
glass-ceiling dome, the lobby is fashioned in shades of deep red and gold, and luxurious fabrics.
The Bar at The Merchant is one of several restaurant options at the hotel. With its Victorian detailing, high ceilings, plush sofas and velvet drapes, The Bar encourages lively and lengthy conversation. Luckily, we decided on an early arrival. I’m not sure we would have secured a table had we arrived any later.
The one drink we weren’t able to try was what The Bar bills as “The World’s Most Expensive Cocktail”, a Mai Tai cocktail made with an extremely rare bottle of 17 year old Wray and Nephew Rum. At £750, my server promised it was worth every penny. I think I’ll just take his word for it