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Life’s grand at The Grand Central Hotel

The Grand Central Hotel The Grand Central Hotel
By Ciara Quinn

A FORMER office building, the Grand Central hotel soars through Belfast’s city skyline, making it the largest and most impressive of the Hastings Hotels portfolio.
A 40th birthday treat booking for my husband and a six minute walk from Great Victoria Street station found us at check in, amidst gleaming marble, metallic shades throughout, the scent of fresh lilies and the warmest of reception welcomes. We were to stay in the Adelaide Suite on the 16th floor, which was the seamless marriage of stylish meets comfort. Our view was to the east of the city with the top of Scrabo Tower in the distance. A Nespresso coffee maker, tea, complimentary biccies and robes and slippers were waiting along with the latest magazines to delve into. If after the ultimate in sheer indulgence, guests can opt for the chance to slip into a ‘bespoke soak’ and have your tub ran for you by one of the hotel’s bath butlers which incorporates a bath filled with essential ESPA oils, self-heating eye masks and the all-important treats. They say that eating and sleeping are two of life’s greatest pleasures and at the Grand Central the hotel excels.
Because it was a special occasion we were booked into the hotel’s exquisite Seahorse restaurant and as a storm whipped up on Bedford Street – yes this is June – we were greeted by manager Rachel Brown, a fantastic asset to the hotel and promptly welcomed with a slate of moreish, freshly baked Guinness and treacle bread. The bread was devoured before a delicate Amuse Bouche of raw roasted cauliflower in butter, cauliflower purée, blitzed beetroot and crispy kale seared in butter followed.
Appetisers on the menu, devised by Executive Chef Damian Tumilty, included ham hock and foie gras terrine, local crab dressed in a yogurt and mirin sauce but it was the ‘stars’ of the sea, local scallops served with a Jersusalem artichoke velouté and black olives, times two, that won out. Mains of roast monkfish tail with herb crusted potatoes, beetroot and asparagus along with crispy pork belly with a sizable wedge of potato gratin, cauliflower and cider soaked raisins were ordered and were hands down two of the most memorable meals we have ever had the pleasure of eating. The chunky monkifish tail was cooked perfectly with the beetroot and asparagus proving the right light companions to the dish. An empty plate across the table seconded my opinion that this was a stand out dining experience. Having next to no room I waved the white flag, napkin and declined dessert. My husband opted for a slated caramel, popcorn covered chocolate slice that complimented all that came before.
Much has already been written about the Grand Central’s Observatory Bar, sat atop its 23rd floor being a must see – and every word of it is true. The bar is accessed via its own lift and operator and once brought in the views are nothing short of spectacular, encompassing the city and all its quarters. Over a pint and G&T we watched the sun disappear over a grey blanket of rain clouds and revert back again, such is having our own weather system.
After the best night sleep in ages thanks to the hotel’s King Coil beds, we were back in the Seahorse for breakfast. All self service, there was no chance of going hungry as huge bowls of fresh fruit, coulis, muesli, granola and yogurt along with Irwin’s bread selection were all at your disposal. A hot breakfast is also on offer and my request of poached eggs was no trouble at the kitchen pass. Pots of freshly brewed coffee and tea set us up for the day and sadly it was time for check out.
It was not an inconvenience for us or guests upon leaving to leave our bags at reception to collect at a later stage in the day, a great service when you still want to have a look round the shops and not have to ‘lug’ your luggage with you.
The Grand Central celebrates its first birthday this month but already feels like it was always part of the Bedford Streetscape as it has set about making its mark. Tourists and those wanting something memorable to celebrate, can do so, in classic style, at the Grand Central.

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