After two years in the making, the four-star Grand Central hotel in Belfast city centre has checked in its very first guest. An international corporate visitor became the first guest to be welcomed to the Bedford Street hotel.
Hastings, the hotel group behind Grand Central, paid £6.5m three years ago for the Nama-owned property and commenced a “no-expense spared” renovation in conjunction with Belfast-based architects RPP which was built by Graham’s of Dromore. The £53m cost makes the Grand Central the most expensive hotel construction in Northern Ireland to date.
The hotel has completely transformed the former office block that was previously Windsor House. Once the largest building in Ireland before it was overtaken by the Obel Building, Windsor House now seems tiny in comparison to the 23 floors at which Grand Central stands tall.
The Belfast hotel is composed of 300 “opulently appointed” bedrooms which start at of £80 per head per night extending to the most luxurious price tag of £2000 per night reserved for the 21st-floor suite named after Hastings founder, the late Sir William Hastings.
Neil Devlin, general manager of sister hotel The Everglades in Londonderry, described the grand suite as a “spectacular and unbelievable tribute” to the hotelier.
“I know that he would be exceptionally proud,” added Grand Central’s general manager Stephen Meldrum.
“I’ve worked for the company for over 16 years and I know if he was here today, he’d say ‘make sure you’re reassuringly expensive’.”
This latest investment by Hastings also boasts three dining venues including the Seahorse Bar and Restaurant overlooking Bedford Street and the top floor Observatory overlooking Belfast and beyond.
“The ground floor Grand Cafe is open from 6am until midnight. It offers early morning breakfast, a takeaway offering and moves through the day with a range of dining. It has that urban, street approach and it’s a place where you can feel comfortable” explained Mr Meldrum.
Named after the original Grand Central Hotel located on Royal Avenue, the hotel is the seventh hotel in the Hastings portfolio and has created 200 new jobs. “Back then it was very much known as a leader so we want to mirror that really, taking Belfast into the next part of its evolutionary journey,” said Mr Meldrum.