My husband and I spent a weekend in the hotel, from Friday check-in unitl Sunday 12pm check out. When we arrived on Friday shortly before 3pm to check in, our room was not ready so we had to go into town and while away some time shopping! This was our second time in the hotel and on the first occasion I thought I had gone to hotel heaven. However, on this occasion we had spent the previous night in the Culloden Hotel outside Belfast and I saw The Merchant from a different perspective. The Merchant is a beautiful, sumptious, tasteful, grand hotel but the basic rooms are on the small side (the same could not be said about the bed, it was astonishingly enormous). There are no tea/coffee making facilities, very little toiletries (enough for one person to have one shower per day), there is only one bottle of drinking water per person supplied per day, we had a single wardrobe between us to hang our clothes (and considering we were spending a long weekend away from home we had quite a lot with us). Also you have to pay £10 per night for the liberty of parking your car in a yard with the hotel.
In our room, 106, the windows faced a pub called the Spaniard and as it was the weekend there was alot of noise coming from it and other surrounding clubs, especially at closing time. The windows seemed to let the noise straight in, even though they were double glazed and closed.
There are currently no SPA facilities on site, although we were led to believe this is changing in the future. As residents of the Merchant you are entitled to free use of a SPA in the Holiday Inn which is a short drive across town and in my opinion is about a 3* facility.
If you like to have a tipple, be prepared to pay for it. There are no draught beers and I think the cheapest bottle of beer was £4. The most expensive drink was a shot of dark rum at £700.00 per shot!
On the plus side, the staff seem very friendly and obliging, especially the concierges. The building itself is amazingly beautiful, especially the Great Hall. Breakfast here is an experience in itself. It's worth going to see the hall on it's own even if you don't stay in the hotel. There was also an arrangement with the night club down in the basement which entitled residents to free entry and preferential treatment when inside.
This hotel is definitely worth staying in but I would not like to pay the full rack rate for a basic room (currently about £240 per room per night). Whilst I appreciate the building is a listed building and therefore limited to the amount of space available, if you don't like petite rooms then you will have to fork out for a suite of rooms which are either £350 or £450 per night.
Overall, a gorgeous place to stay if you are willing to pay for the upgrade. If not, be prepared to be a wee bit cramped. Breakfast in the Great Hall is a must. The restaurant in the hotel is lovely (also in the Great Hall) although expensive. The Cloth Ear is a pub next door which is owned by the hotel and serves lovely food for a smaller charge, and gives preferential treatment for hotel guests. The area around the hotel is buzzing with loads of pubs, restaurants etc so as far as location goes the hotel is well situated.
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- Also Known As:
- Merchant Hotel Belfast