Before my most recent visit last weekend I hadn’t been to the Europa Hotel in Belfast since I was a child. I remember driving up to Belfast with my mam and sister when we were kids in the 90s and they still had security at the border. We stayed in the Europa Hotel Belfast and we used to get very excited about breakfast. In fact, I’m pretty sure I refused to eat baked beans until I tasted the ones in the Europa Hotel. Of course, the hotel has changed since then. It has been renovated and is now owned by Hastings Hotels. So, when I did finally return, nearly 20 years later, what did I find? Well, let me tell you all about my experience at the Europa Hotel.
About the Europa Hotel Belfast
The Europa is a landmark in Belfast. It is often referred to as “The Most bombed Hotel in Europe” due to how many times it was bombed during “The Troubles”. Don’t worry, nothing to worry about now! In 1993 the Europa became part of the Hastings Hotel Group and was closed for refurbishments until 1994. The hotel now has 272 rooms and 12 floors. If you’re a Sons of Anarchy fan you might recognise the Europa Hotel from the season 3 episode, “Bainne”.
How to Get There
So, Belfast is a pretty easy city to get to. My mam and I got the train up from Dublin for around €35 return. It’s a direct train from Dublin Connolly to Belfast Central. There’s a free bus from Belfast Central into the Belfast city centre. It’s definitely walkable but the weather isn’t always great in Belfast so the free bus is handy. It takes less than 5 minutes to get to City Hall on the bus. If you’re coming from abroad you can fly into Belfast international airport and then get an Airport Express bus into Belfast. Or if you’re planning on a road trip, Belfast is easily accessible by car and not a bad city to drive around. The Europa Hotel offers valet parking at £18.00 for 24 hours. From the hotel you can be on the main shopping street within a 5 minutes and at the Victoria Square shopping centre in 10-15 mins.
When we arrived we were told that we’d be staying in a junior suite called the Shannon Suite. It is on 8th floor of the hotel. The first thing I noticed before we even got to the room was the unusual lift system. You have to select your floor on a tablet and then the tablet will tell you which lift to take. Then when you entre the lift the button is already pressed and it simply whisks you away to your chosen floor. The room itself is classic and full of rich tones. The living/dining area is separate to the bathroom making it like a small one bedroom apartment. There was TV in both rooms and the wifi was strong in all areas. There were a couple of nice touches that I really enjoyed like the Hastings Hotels souvenir rubber duck, the bottles of River Rock water and the ESPA products in the bathroom. In the bathroom there was a separate bath and a shower with a rainfall head. There were also robes and slippers available in the bathroom. Overall it was a spacious, comfortable room with luxurious design elements in a classic style. Perfect for a weekend break!
I’m always a little bit nervous when it comes to food in hotels. Mainly because there’s not always a lot of choice for vegetarians, and when there is it’s usually heavy on the mushrooms (which I dislike). However, the Causerie restaurant in the Europa Hotel Belfast restored my faith in hotel vegetarian dishes. The restaurant is just off the lobby and is similarly rich in design to the rooms, but in a darker colour palette. We sat in a booth. There were all sorts of people in the restaurant from couples to large birthday parties. The vibe was relaxed and the dress code was relatively casual. There’s a “Pre-Theatre” menu (available at set times) of two courses for £18 which I think is reasonable. On the regular menu mains range from £13 to £28. I, being a vegetarian, had the goats cheese parfait for starter, the roasted vegetable curry for mains and the flourless chocolate brownie for dessert. Everything was beautifully plated and tasted delicious. We were asked how much time we’d like between courses, which was quite nice as sometimes you need a little break! The Europa Hotel Belfast seems to have ties with local whiskey producer, Bushmills. I was a bit under the weather during my visit and ordered a hot whiskey. Bushmills was recommended. As you guys know I’ve visited Bushmills distillery and stayed in their hotel so I was happy to have it. I rolled back up to bed after finishing off every last bite of my meal!
The breakfast buffet from my memories! Walking into the breakfast buffet was like a blast from the past. Obviously the decor had changed since the 90s, but I recognised where we used to sit. It’s in the Causerie, the same place we had dinner. The buffet has all the usual staples of hot breakfast and continental. One thing I noticed that was quite unique (or at least something I’d never seen before) was the bottle of Bushmills whiskey by the porridge, for those who need a little extra kick in the morning. My mam put a drop in her porridge to try and said it made no difference, but that could have been all the cinnamon she mixed in too. I tried the legendary beans that changed my mind when I was about 9 years old and I’m happy to report that they are still as delicious as I remember.
Hmm, seems I spent a lot of time talking about food in this review. Oh well, you can see I have my priorities right at least! If you have any questions about my stay let me know in the comments section. If you’d like to find out more about the hotel you can check out the website here.
*I was a guest of Hastings Hotels on this occasion. However, all opinions are, as always, my own.*
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