Day 1. A short break in Belfast

When considering where to go on holiday in these uncertain times, Belfast ticked all the boxes for us.  We’d still be travelling by air, feeling as if we were actually going abroad but with the security of knowing that we couldn’t be quarantined on our return as Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.  Not only that, but as Aer Lingus recently launched six new routes to Belfast City Airport from the U.K. starting at £29.99, it couldn’t have been easier.

Aer Lingus ATR 72 at Manchester Airport
Our Aer Lingus ATR 72 at Manchester Airport

We travelled from Manchester on an ATR 72 taking only 40 minutes for the short hop across the Irish Sea.  If taking this route, do try to sit on the right hand side of the plane when travelling to Belfast as if it’s clear you are able to see the Isle of Man as you fly over.

George Best Belfast City Airport
George Best Belfast City Airport

On arrival into George Best Belfast City Airport, as we only had hand luggage, we were able to walk straight out of the terminal building and into a waiting taxi taking just 15 minutes to our hotel just south of the city centre. The airport also has good public transport connections with trains from Sydenham Station (just a short walk across the footbridge) taking 5-10 minutes and Bus 600 from outside the terminal taking a similar length of time into the city centre.

The Harrison Hotel, Belfast
The Harrison: Chambers of Distinction Boutique Hotel

We’d been invited to stay at The Harrison, a newly opened boutique hotel in the affluent Queen’s Quarter.  Located on the leafy Malone Road this Victorian gem has been painstakingly restored by its owner Melanie Harrison and is an absolute delight.

CS Lewis Suite, The Harrison Hotel, Belfast
The CS Lewis Suite, my lovely room at The Harrison

Each of its 17 rooms are individually styled and named after a writer or artist linked to Belfast or one of its neighbouring towns.  When Melanie showed me into the C.S.Lewis suite it felt just as if I had stepped into his study as I could just imagine what it must have been like, sitting there in the bay window writing the Chronicles of Narnia.

Single room at The Harrison Hotel, Belfast
The single room forming part of the CS Lewis suite

The C.S.Lewis is a two bedroom suite with an antique king sized bed in the main room and a single in the smaller room.  Melanie offered no guarantee that my huge wardrobe in the dressing area would lead to Narnia in the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe but I still loved the suite with its original fireplace and bureau filled with antiquarian books.

Dressing room, CS Lewis suite, Harrison Hotel, Belfast
My huge Chronicles of Narnia wardrobe

Meanwhile, my son was settling into the Swift room on the floor above which was equally lovely.  Jonathan Swift served in the city and on a clear day it’s sometimes possible to make out the shape of Cave Hill which is thought to have inspired his timeless Gulliver’s Travels.

The Swift Room, The Harrison Hotel, Belfast
The Swift Room inspired by Gulliver’s Travels
Afternoon tea at The Harrison Hotel, Belfast
Tea and cakes served to the room

After a welcome pot of tea and some homemade cakes we freshened up in our luxuriously appointed en-suite bathrooms and then set off into the city centre.

Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
The Crown Liquor Saloon

Belfast is a compact city and being relatively flat it’s easy to get around on foot.  Our walk to The Crown Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street took no more than 20 minutes.  Dating back to the 1880’s The Crown is the only pub to be owned by the National Trust and is a marvellous example of the Victorian era.

Snugs at the Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
Individual snug doors in the historic pub

We were shown to our table which was actually our own private snug.  The Victorians obviously knew how to social distance as our dining area came with its own private door, intricate Italian panelling, leather seating and an antique bell system to ring for service.

Interior of the Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
Inside the Crown Liquor Saloon

These private areas were created for people who preferred to drink without being seen.  Each snug comes complete with a gun metal plate that was used for striking matches.  It’s probably the most beautiful pub I’ve ever been in and the food was delicious too.

Dinner at the Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
Enjoying dinner in our cosy snug

I opted for a steaming hot bowl of Irish stew with soda bread whilst on the other side of the table, the beef and Guinness pie went down a treat.  We couldn’t resist desserts and our raspberry crumble and clotted cream cheesecakes set us up for the short walk back to the hotel.

Harrison Hotel, Belfast
The Harrison Hotel by moonlight

Back in my room, I sat in the window to examine the old Remington typewriter on the desk.  It had a qwerty keyboard but otherwise bore no resemblance to today’s modern gadgets so I think it would have taken me a very long time to type this blog post on it.  I did though enjoy sitting at the desk reflecting on our first few hours in Belfast and writing my notes in the moonlight.

CS Lewis suite, The Harrison Hotel, Belfast
My lovely room at the Harrison Hotel

I was soon asleep in the large comfortable bed nestled between the luxurious high thread count Egyptian bedlinen dreaming about our plans for exploring the city centre the next morning.

 

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Belfast Crown Liquor Saloon

 

71 thoughts on “Day 1. A short break in Belfast

  1. jasonlikestotravel

    It’s so cool that the national trust own that pub! I’ve yet to visit Belfast but it’s somewhere I keep thinking about for the reasons you mentioned, being part of the UK makes it particularly attractive at the moment haha. Definitely going to have to check that pub out when I do get around to visiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Belfast is such a fun place to visit and I’m sure you’d like it too. The Crown Liquor Saloon is great. It’s run by the Nicholson’s chain who have other historic pubs and one in the centre of Manchester we like. If / when you go download their app and you can get good food and drink discounts for first time users.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ThingsHelenLoves

    The Harrison is stunning, you can tell it’s been restored and designed with a lot of care. Beautiful. And the pub is fascinating. It highlights how bland some modern pub chains have made things. Two beautiful places to kick off your visit.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for taking an interest in this the first of my posts on Belfast. It’s an amazing city and I’m certain you would enjoy a visit sometime when restrictions are eased. Hope you enjoyed a Happy Christmas and it was as good as it could be in the circumstances.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The hotel looks absolutely delightful, seems like the perfect combination of cosiness and luxury. Looking forward to reading more of your Belfast posts, as I’ve never been there. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Here’s to more travels next year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very much Tom for your kind words. Belfast is an amazing city to visit and when travel allows, I’d definitely recommend a few days there. We liked it so much that we are planning on returning in 2021. You’ve summed up the Harrison Hotel beautifully, it was a real treat to stay there. I hope you are also enjoying the best Christmas possible under the circumstances and let’s look forward to more travelling opportunities in the coming months. Marion

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Love this post Marion, what a beautiful hotel and like you I loved the look of the pub. Look forward to your next posts which I am just about to read. And of course a very Merry Christmas to you and your family. Let’s hope and pray for a better 2021 for everyone. x

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Fascinating destination! As always, your notes and photographs delightfully express your wonderful experiences. Being a retired educator (taught typing for many of the years), I was equally intrigued with the typewriter in the C. S. Lewis suite.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for reading my post. What a great, atmospheric place to stay Little Traveller; lucky you. It would definitely be my choice….And what about that wardrobe! Great pub too. Have a great Christmas and a safe New Year. Cheers! x

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Your post brought back happy memories of the time I lived and studied ( At Queens University – obviously in the Queens Quarter like your very familiar looking hotel, incidentally somewhat more salubrious than my own quarters nearby) for a number of years. I too frequented the Crown, many more times than you did lol.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a beautiful and highly esteemed university to have studied at. I think you will be seeing it in my upcoming posts too! We loved Belfast and it has seemingly changed so much for the better over the last twenty years without losing its character. Thank you for commenting, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I look forward to your future posts and your interpretations on a city I liked in between 1983-1989 approx, though I have been back many times since. My mum and siblings still live in Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh. I had plans in place to return last Sept/Oct but that didn’t eventuate and I doubt if I will be able to travel to a nieces wedding next August but am still hoping for the best.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I loved this post! I have never been to Ireland but it is definitely on my bucket list. I especially loved the part about The Harrison hotel and its suites named after writers. I have always been a big fan of The Chronicles of Narnia so this was very exciting to read about:)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Anonymous

    I loved this post! I’ve never been to Ireland but it’s definitely on my bucket list, especially The Harrison hotel now that I know it has suites named after writers:) I’ve always been a huge fan of The Chronicles of Narnia so this sounds very exciting!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I’ve been to Ireland, but not Northern Ireland; I’m itching to go now after reading this post! The accommodation you stayed at looks really charming, and it would’ve been neat to peek into the wardrobe and see Narnia (haha). The teas and cakes served look divine, and I appreciate you sharing your adventures in Belfast!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Lovely hotel with character! When my son and I made a stop in Belfast on our way around Ireland some years ago, there were burning cars and flags draped around protesters. We took a black taxi guided tour to sites illustrating the conflicts. So much to think about in that city.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for reading Eilene and taking the time to comment. I do hope you get an opportunity to visit Belfast one day as I’m certain that you would really enjoy visiting and to see where your ancestors sailed from. Hope you like my upcoming posts on the city too!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Loved this post. We were in Belfast about two years ago and also visited the very unusual and evocative Crown Liquor Saloon. It was absolutely packed with customers (unimaginable now) and we could not have possibly been offered a snug due to the crowd present but happily we were able to have dinner upstairs, which was still very atmospheric. And guess what— I also had the Irish stew for dinner!! Looking forward to your next post.

    Liked by 3 people

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