The Merchant of Belfast

the-merchant-outside-viewBelfast’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-merchant-of-belfastIn a place as opulent as The Merchant, I expected to pay a small fortune for small drinks served by a reserved staff. Not so! The staff was exceedingly friendly and prices were comparable to what one would pay in New York or London. The Bar at The Merchant is serious about their cocktails; I was provided with not a menu but a small book describing in great detail the history and recipes of their beverage selection. My friends and I each ordered different cocktails, allowing us to sample several menu options. My favorites? Black Tea Punch (£5.45), Mojoto Criollo (£7.95), and Suburban Pink (£7.50).

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

2 thoughts on “The Merchant of Belfast”

  1. Pingback: Tea Chef

  2. You’re one of the few people who have ever been OK with the prices in the Merchant Hotel… But it definitely has those “city” prices that you find most places – the Irish just don’t like paying them much!

    Think you need more entries on Ireland and its wonders. This is a good start. =]

    Anna x

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