In place of a bursting-at-the-seams city break itinerary, why not leave the checklist at home? Stay at the Harrison Chambers of Distinction Belfast and immerse yourself in the culture and Victorian grandeur of the surrounding area.
City breaks have become a chore in themselves, leaving you feeling you must plan hour by hour busy itineraries and checklists to explain to your friends when you return home. Busy staycations give value for money but at the end of your trip you feel steamrollered despite the great Instagram stories you can post of social media. Drop your bags off at the Harrison and chat with Proprietess Melanie Harrison about the fascinating history of the building, its inhabitants and discover all the stories hidden behind the stunning facade. Rooms are called after famous writers and artists with connections to Belfast and Melanie is more than happy to share her wealth of knowledge and anecdotes about these well loved characters. Exit the front doors onto tree lined streets and saunter down to Botanic Garden with its manicured flowerbeds and legendary glass palm house which inspired Kew gardens design when Belfast was at the height of its wealth. While you're there have a picnic, do a yoga session, take a slow ride on the ferris wheel or people watch.
Conveniently Ulster museum is on the grounds of Botanic gardens. It boasts the best art collection in Northern Ireland with a wide range of exhibitions appropriate for all ages. On average we spend 15 to 30 seconds looking at each piece of art when visiting art galleries. But why rush ? Slow art allows you to immerse yourself in the piece and really think about it. There are no crowds and no queues at the Ulster Museum and it's free entrance. The gift shop is lovely to browse around for coffee table books, art and jewellery and other crafts.
But why not treat yourself to a new book now you are in the mood to unwind ? Opposite the museum next door to William Conor’s old art studio, independent bookshop Book Paper Scissors has a great range of titles. No Alibis on Botanic Avenue specialises in crime fiction and often has readings and small events. It’s next to a range of casual, world, cuisine eateries so savour a casual yet delicious bite before your next experience.
The Queens Film Theatre on Queens University campus is an old school local film theatre offering a premium cinema experience replete with a bar. Grab a tipple of your choice and sit down to sip plush velvet seats in the auditorium.
It’s a short stroll back to The Harrison where you can sink into a four poster bed. Sumptuous velvet curtains, wooden floors and ornate cast iron radiators and antiques furniture just add to a feeling of homeliness and calm. The Aristocrat rooms have stylish Victorian freestanding baths in the rooms. So draw yourself a huge bubble bath with your favourite scents and start reading that book you bought.
Full body massages are offered by resident therapist Nola, Melanie’s sister. Slip off into a wonderland of dreams during your treatment and sleep like a baby after on the super comfortable bespoke mattresses.
The next morning wake up to the sound of bird song in the trees outside your window and enjoy breakfast in bed . The Harrison deliver a tray to your room with teas, coffees, juicers, pastries, fresh fruit and overall deliciousness. Trays are stunning and you will feel thoroughly spoilt.
After breakfast you can choose to walk along the towpath that leads you to the Lagan meadows reserve, a countryside escape with water fowl and wildlife which is an oasis of calm. Feed the ducks, spot the odd heron even be surprised by the odd disoriented seal down by the water’s edge.
If you don’t fancy straining yourself catch the world award winning hop on hop off bus which passes nearby. Hop on and just don’t hop off and simply watch the city through the window. The local live guides are informative yet entertaining and you will visit every sight in the city in a matter of hours with zero stress
As you return to the Harrison to collect your luggage you may feel the strong urge to stay on longer as stay in slowcation mode. If you are lucky you might just be able to swing it and Melanie would be delighted to arrange it for you. Come and stay at The Harrison