The Titanic Hotel, Belfast

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The Titanic Hotel is the former drawing office of Harland & Wolff shipbuilders, who designed the ill-fated Titanic and built her nearby. The office (built 1886) fell into disrepair and lay abandon for decades.

The renovation that was competed in September 2017 and turned the offices into a boutique hotel, is nothing short of fantastic. They have combined the old with the new, so very skilfully. In particular: drawing hall one and two have become a stunning bar/lounge and a function room. The corridors retain their original feel as do many of the original meeting rooms. The guest’s bedrooms rooms are all nicely ‘themed’.

The Hotel is ideally placed for those visiting the ‘Titanic Quarter’ and it’s growing number of attractions, being opposite the ‘Titanic Experience’, adjacent to the Titanic/Olympic slipway, SS Nomadic (Titanic’s tender), with the HMS Caroline (Battleship). The Titanic dry-dock being a ten minute walk away. However the hotel is not so convenient for Belfast city, which is about a 30 minute walk away. I believe that there are some buses.

We arrived at about 12.30 in the morning on a very wet Saturday evening by Ferry. I had advised the hotel in advance that we would be late. There was a wedding reception in drawing room number one, with very loud music pumping out. I felt sorry for those guests in the nearby bedrooms. We struggled to get two heavy cases, to our room. I assume that nearly all of the staff still on duty were focused on the wedding guests and not on late arrivals.

However, I must say that the lifts were quite spacious and efficient.

There are seven grades of room on offer. Most are in the original buildings, but my ‘Executive Room’ (No. 332) was in a new extension, added during the renovation. The room was quite spacious (almost a mini-suite) with a seating area. It had floor to ceiling windows, unlike the old building’s hotel-rooms which have conventional sash-cord windows. The view from my room was of the Titanic slipway and a glimpse of the yellow Harland and Wolff’s ‘ Samson’ and ‘Goliath’ cranes. I’d guess than 40% of the hotels rooms faced the ‘Titanic Experience’ building.

Annoyingly my room’s windows did not open, but there was air-con. The decor was charming and suitably Ocean Liner themed. The corridors were dark and atmospheric. The outer room door even had rivets. Above the bed was a smoked glass mirrors with rivets and industrial bed-side lamps. All the rooms’ furniture was in keeping with a late 1800’s office. The bed was very comfortable and the large black and white tiled bathroom had a ‘his’ and ‘hers’ sinks, plus a combined bath/shower.

The bath products were by designer Paul Costelloe, but I did not find them to be particularly luxurious in quality.

The linen and towels were all of a very good quality. The pillows were a little high for my liking. There was no choice of pillow within the room.

There was a Nespresso type coffee machine in the room, which in my opinion was more troublesome to use and less versatile than a conventional kettle. Milk and coffee-pods were severely rationed by the maids. Appropriately, the TV had a Titanic Channel, which was very interesting. There was a safe and a conventional hairdryer was supplied. The wardrobe was an open-plan design and only had five coat-hangers. However bath robes occupied two the hangers. (So how do two adults, with two big suitcases, away for two weeks, hang all of their clothes on just five coat-hangers – answers on a postcard please?)

Slippers were also provided. However there were no suitcase stands or a bed protector for them.

The shaving socket in the bathroom, conveniently next to the mirror, inconveniently did not work. The phone had a broken cable, so also could not be used. I reported both to reception on day one. Nobody fixed them or told me why they had not, even though they had four days in which to do so. The bathroom had an unpleasant odour, which I assume was coming from a partial blockage/stagnant water somewhere in a pipe.

I did not find this hotel to be a happy one. I found most of the hotel staff to be reserved at best. Smiles and conversation were rare.

The breakfast staff were not particularly friendly, as were many of the other bar staff and waiters around the hotel. One exception was “Jurema“- she served breakfast with a smile. The reception staff said the right things, but did not sound like they really mean it.

There were two more exceptions: Porter/Concierge/odd-job-man, David Goodwin, was a charming man, who was very informative and very professional – promote him!

Uncharacteristically for this hotel, the room maids were all very cheerful; they should be serving breakfast instead of the present incumbent.

Maybe the managers had told the staff that they should be “seen and not heard”? Having staff talk to guests is NOT a crime. I suggest that the senior staff take a short walk to the nearby budget hotel, “Premier Inn”, and see how customer service is really done.

By the way, the breakfast was quite good with a good range of hot and cold items. However the sausages and bacon lacked taste (low quality) and the tomatoes were ALWAYS under-cooked. The traditional method of the staff bringing guests the toast did not work (compare to a self-service toaster) as it was always almost cold. Annoying modern Jazz muzac was played every breakfast time. This sounded like the musicians were just practising their scales. I’m pretty sure that the Titanic passengers did not have to endure this. I would have preferred some Edwardian strings.

The bar/lounge (drawing office two) was an amazing room, although the enormous model of the Titanic bothered me. The model looked very impressive, until I noticed that the funnels were out of scale to the rest of the ship, being too big. Why would anybody spend months building such a wonderfully intricate ship model, which had the wrong proportions? (However I appreciate that only very serious ship-geeks would be bothered by this at all ).

The maritime artwork displayed in drawing office 2, mostly by Colin H. Davidson, was excellent and depicted local shipbuilding of the past. In fact the hotel was full of excellent maritime art and vintage photographs. The hotel was well worth a tour by guests and visitors alike. The hotel positively encouraged this.

The bar had a good range of draft beers, some being quite unusual. I ordered a drink from the bar tender and there was very little communication from him.

The restaurant’s food was very expensive, but the bar food was much more reasonably priced. I had one of the best burgers that I’ve ever had, anywhere. The salmon was also excellent. However the service was a bit surely, once again.

So in conclusion, the Titanic Hotel Belfast is an amazing renovation of a historically significant building, creating a very attractive hotel. The room rates are pretty high for a four star hotel, but unfortunately the customer service ethos, from many unmotivated staff, did not match the hotel’s status. I bet the service on-board the Titanic was far superior in every way. It’s such a pity.

Malcolm, 2018

Q: Have you stayed at this hotel? How was it?

Important Note: This review is purely about my own experience in room 332, August 2018. Standards of service etc. can vary over time, up or down.

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Interested in the Titanic II project? For in-depth news and information see my dedicated Titanic II blog: HERE

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