It may cover just a little over 14000 km, but there’s so much to see and do in Northern Ireland. Explore the rugged Causeway Coast, visit scenic spots where TV hit Game of Thrones was in-part filmed, party in the thriving cosmopolitan city of Belfast and learn about the region’s history – both recent and ancient. Receive a warm welcome when you visit these fantastic high-end hotels.
Culloden Estate And Spa
Originally intended as an abode for the Bishops of Down, this 19th-century estate is found on the outskirts of Belfast. The historic grandeur of the building is contrasted with a modern extension, in the form of the ESPA spa with steam room and hammam. 98 spacious bedrooms provide plenty of room for king-sized beds, desks and bathrooms with rainfall showers. It’s not unusual to find a pianist or harpist playing in the bar or accompanying a meal. And in addition to the top-notch cuisine in the main restaurant, there’s a cosy inn within the grounds, for a beer and bite beside a roaring fire.
Lough Esk Castle
This grand baronial estate is surprisingly relaxed and offers the affable hospitality typical of Northern Ireland. Children are well catered for here, with their own club, menus and interconnecting rooms. Some of the 96 bedrooms are pet friendly with direct access to the courtyard, while others have lake views. Dine at the Grill for epic steaks, in The Cedars restaurant, or in The Gallery Bar for a more laid back ambience. The glossy Spa Solis is spread across interior and exterior areas with chill-out zones, an infinity pool with garden views and eight treatment rooms. The surrounding area is popular for surfing, horse-riding and fishing and guests can play tennis within the grounds.
The Merchant Hotel
Take a five-star, opulent break in Belfast’s buzzing Cathedral Quarter. The Merchant Hotel is housed in a palatial Victorian Grade A listed building (once Ulster Bank HQ), with a glamorous Art Deco wing. Admire the skyline as you unwind in the modern rooftop jacuzzi or work up a sweat in the gym with a view. There’s an abundance of eateries on the doorstep, but inside guests can dine in splendour at The Great Room Restaurant, drink in the award-winning Cocktail Bar or the Cloth Ear. The Merchant is also home to the only live jazz bar in the city and an exclusive fashion boutique.
Slieve Donard Resort and Spa
Part of the Hastings Hotel group, this 180 room resort is found in Newcastle, County Down, on the edge of the Mountains of Mourne. The prestigious Royal County Down Golf Club sits on one side, with a scenic sandy beach on the other. Slieve Donard has hosted visitors for over a century, with the more recent additions of a luxe mountain view spa and gym. The decor here is traditional, with splashes of bold colour and uber-comfy ‘cloud’ beds. There are three dining options – the formal Oak Restaurant, the Lighthouse Lounge specialising in healthy options and the cosy Percy French Inn, named after the composer of the song The Mountains of Mourne.
Bishop’s Gate Hotel
Built at the turn of the twentieth century, this central Derry hotel pays homage to its location and history in its artworks and carefully restored interiors. Bishop’s Gate was once a gentleman’s club, hosting luminaries including Winston Churchill and WB Yeats. Order drinks and food from the marble bar in Wig, and peruse the fireside portraits of these, and other, former club members, along with an enormous library of antique books. Formal meals are taken in Gown, a fancy candlelit French restaurant – named (like the bar) after the courthouse next door. The hotel also has a gym, 28 rooms and two suites, decorated in classic Edwardian hues.