“ Hotel, Great Victoria Street,Belfast „
The 4 star Europa Hotel which is part of the Hastings Hotel Group is situated in the centre of Belfast on Great Victoria Street and is extremely convenient to everything in Belfast. Having undergone expansion and refurbishment over the years the hotel now has 272 bedrooms, making it one of the largest in Northern Ireland, and a popular choice of many celebrities on their visit to Belfast. President Clinton also stayed here when he visited Belfast in 1998 with the result that the room he stayed in was renamed the Clinton Suite.
The hotel was once renouned for being the most bombed hotel in Europe during the troubles but thankfully those days are in the past! Now it is very popular with tourists from all over the world and has large function rooms which can hold several hundred people and are popular for awards ceremonies, formals and international conferences. There was a recent fly on the wall reality tv show based on the hotel which followed the daily goings on of the General Manager, staff and guests over a period of weeks giving an insight into how the hotel was run and the stories of the types of guests that came to stay.
The hotel is surrounded by plenty of bars and restaurants and only a short walk to all the main shopping areas of Belfast. The famous Crown bar which is very popular with visitors to Northern Ireland is across the road and worth a visit for a pint of Guinness! The hotel is also very convenient for those staying on business as it is close to all the main businesses and a lot of government departments. The fact the train and bus station is next door to it also makes it very handy, especially if arriving up from Dublin. The hotel is also positioned next door to Belfast's Grand Opera House and within walking distance to the Waterfront concert hall and a short taxi journey away from the Odyssey complex which hosts concerts, ice hockey and various bars and restaurants.
The prices per night vary from about £75 for a single room and around about £100 per night for a twin room. There are several cheaper hotels in the nearby area but this hotel is very comfortable and the service is normally of a pretty good standard and the food and hotel bar are both decent enough. There are also some good views of the city from some of the higher up rooms but these may be more expensive.
In my opinion this is a decent hotel for a short break in Belfast. It is in a great location, within walking distance from most places.
The Europa is Northern Ireland?s largest and possibly best hotel, although some people have disputed that the latter is no longer the case, with the Hilton now taking away most of the celebrity guests. I stayed in the Europa for ten days in July 2002 when I was managing the Austrian Cricket team at the ECC European Championship, and it provided us with an excellent base for which to prepare for the tournament. The fact it has been bombed several times during the troubles did not perturb me at all when staying here. Location: The Location is excellent with various bars and restaurants within walking distance, and more importantly for transportation it is very well placed, with a bus station at the back of the hotel that has shuttle services to both the International airport and the City airport. The buses routes run at least twice an hour with single tickets costing £5 and £2.00 respectively (discounted return prices are also available) whereas a cab will cost £22 or £7 approx. each way, so the bus represents quite a saving. The Europa bus centre is also walking distance from Belfast Central Railway station. The hotel is very centrally located with a host of bars and restaurants in the vicinity. During the ten days I was there I ventured to a curry house, a Malaysian restaurant (Istana), a Chinese restaurant (The Wok), a couple of Italian restaurants and also to various drinking establishments, with Robinsons, The Crown and The Beaten Docket all being within spitting distance of the hotel. In house catering: There is a somewhat pricey restaurant and a pub/wine bar on the ground floor with normal opening hours in the Europa and also a hotel bar on the first floor. The hotel bar is not too badly priced with a good pint of Guinness available and used to be our meeting point each evening before heading out. There is also 24 hour room service which the rather pleasant young lady next door to me seemed to be enjoying thrice daily (ooh..
. helllooo!). I only had breakfast in the hotel with a great Irish Fry up or Continental Breakfast buffet service causing an expanded waistline, although the tea and coffee were very weak (but then again I am used to Viennese strength coffee!). The rooms: Despite the fact that my room-mate and I had brought a cricket bag, a case and a laptop bag each there was plenty of space in the room. The doors are standard key-card operated affairs, and the beds very comfortable ? very welcome if you are playing cricket all day and every day. The rooms have televisions, with pay TV options, telephones (although these are of course very expensive), trouser presses, tea/coffee making facilities, with executive rooms being roomier still, as well as a large wardrobe in every room. There are a selection of singles, twins, doubles and suites (named for example the President Clinton Suite) with the rack prices (official prices) being pretty steep, although trying sites like Hogg Robinson, lastminute.com and so on will help you find some quite affordable rates. We had a special promotional rate which was far lower than any promotional rate, which made it an excellent choice of venue. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, with loo, washbasin, and bath with power shower. Various soaps and shampoos (all Neutrogena) are supplied, which were of top quality. The staff: The maids and staff were all exceptionally polite, helpful and obliging, and were able to recommend places to eat, drink and so forth, with room service available all around the clock. Other facilities: The second floor is home to a host of conference rooms, which we made use of during the tournament for various meetings etc. They are all equipped with beamers, screens, flip charts and refreshments and are available in varying sizes. In Austria to be a four star hotel you need either a gym or a swimming pool or sauna, although the Europa has none of these facilities.
There are gyms and pools available within easy walking distance of the hotel, although probably if the hotel had its own pool etc. it would be a five star place. Any niggles: The only problem which we found was the fact that for a twelve storey hotel it surprised us that there were no stairs (other than the emergency exits of course!) and only two lifts. This meant with ten cricket teams leaving around the same time you could often spend a while waiting for the lifts. I cheekily used the service lifts - the hotel then opened them up for us anyway to ease congestion... Otherwise the hotel was an excellent place to stay and I wouldn?t hesitate to stay there again, especially considering how much better the service was than at the Euston Plaza where I had stayed in London. General info: Address: Great Victoria Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim Tel: +44 (0)2890 327000 Web address: http://www.hastingshotels.com/Hastings.asp?Page=Main&Hotel=europa
Until recently The Europa was considered (rightly) as the top hotel in Belfast. Now it may have lost out somewhat to the newly opened Hilton, and may even receive competition from the new THF Premier hotel close by. However, Hotels are familiar with 'competition' and this means that a 'price war' may develop (see below). If my dooyoo opinion on Belfast has given you an inclination to visit this fine city, then my opinions on the hotels that I have stayed at might give you some idea where to stay (or where not to stay, as the case might be). As a Consultant, based in Edinburgh, but with most clients outside of this city, a significant proportion of my time is spent travelling and staying at hotels. I have been serving a client in the centre of the centre of Belfast since early 1997 and I now visit there regularly, on a 4 to 8 week cycle, each visit taking from 3 to 5 days. The centre of Belfast is dominated by the City Hall (a photograph of which appears on the dooyoo category site) and, as soon as I leave the building in Donegall Square, where my client is based, I have this very familiar view right in front of me. Fortunately the centre of Belfast is now well-served by hotels and in my time I have stayed at three of them, each within 5 minutes walk of where I work. I have written an ‘omnibus edition’ covering all 3 hotels, but since dooyoo has now opened categories for each, I have reviewed this opinion and extracted the detail for each establishment, which I have then augmented. The Europa Hotel Great Victoria Street (02890 327000) On many occasions, I may only stay a single night ever in a particular city, so that I will only experience a single stay in a particular hotel, and I generally would not consider it fair to either recommend (or to 'damn') a hotel on the basis of one stay. I am making an exception for The Europa’ because it was so good the once that I stoppe
d there, and others that I know who have also stopped there have the same opinion. I also intend to stop there again (see below). This is a top quality hotel and, prior to the new Hilton Hotel opening its doors, was the choice of US presidents and Hollywood stars. It is relatively expensive, if you book directly (£120 a night bed & Breakfast), but plush, plush PLUSH. However, at the height of the ‘troubles’, I understand that it was blown up twice and there were a number of bomb alerts. With the frontage largely glazed (as can be seen from the DooYoo photograph), you would not want to be in the vicinity if tension in the Province were running too high. The main restaurant is on the first floor and is of excellent if expensive standard. There is also a 'brasserie' on the ground floor which offers reasonable value (and a large jolly waiter called 'Michael'). I only stopped here for 2 nights on my first visit in 1997, when the client was picking up the 'tab' directly and obviously wanted to make a good impression of wanting to 'look after' me (as the hospitable Irish always want to do). It is now so long ago that I cannot recall the full details of the stay - although I doo remember us trying a number of Malt whiskies and various brands of Irish 'liquor' on the two evenings that I was there, and the whole experience left a ‘glow’ afterwards !!! However, Stena Lines do a Holiday Brochure (available from all travel agents, but you can book direct - 08705 747474) for Ireland that includes Belfast and this proves to be a good source of travel bargains, which now includes stays at the Europa. Obviously, the competition for hotels in Belfast is ‘hotting up’, and this will be why excellent discounts are now available. For example, the current (2001) brochure price of a midweek 2 night short break for one person with a British Airways return flight from Edinbur
gh to Belfast City Airport staying at ‘The Europa’ is from £304 to £342 bed and breakfast. This really is a ‘bargain’, when compared with Jury’s Inn and the Travelodge (at full price) and I will certainly be staying at ‘The Europa’ again during either my next visit in March or that in May.