North’s newest hotel boasts ‘highest bar in Ireland’

Luxury Grand Central hotel has been developed by Hastings Group, owners of a 50 per cent stake in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel

Caitriona Lavery and Howard Hastings of Hastings Hotels are joined by John McGrillen, Tourism NI chief executive

Caitriona Lavery and Howard Hastings of Hastings Hotels are joined by John McGrillen, Tourism NI chief executive

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Northern Ireland’s newest hotel, the £53 million (€60 million) Grand Central, officially opens its doors for business on Wednesday, promising unrivalled views of the city from the “highest bar in Ireland”.

The luxury hotel has been developed by the Northern Ireland-headquartered Hastings Group, owners of a 50 per cent stake in the five star Merrion Hotel in Dublin.

It will be the seventh hotel in their portfolio and represents the largest single investment by the family-owned hotel group, which has been in business in Northern Ireland for more than 50 years.

The 23-storey hotel, located in the heart of Belfast, will be the North’s largest hotel once its first paying guests – a group of international delegates who are attending the Hosts Global Forum in the city this week – steps through its doors on Tuesday morning.

According to Howard Hastings, managing director of the Hastings Group, the new 300-bedroom hotel has been completely self-funded and underlines the family’s confidence in the North’s growing tourism sector.

The inspiration for the name of the group’s latest venture came from the first Grand Central Hotel, which was a grand Victorian establishment which operated in Royal Avenue in the city from 1893 to the 1970s.

Among the new hotel’s key features is the window walled Grand Café, the Seahorse bar and restaurant, a lounge for private receptions, offices, retail units and two conference suites.

The Hastings family also hopes that the Grand Central’s “Observatory” cocktail lounge, which is located on the 23rd floor, will become a new landmark, destination in the city.

It promises to deliver a “unique” view of Belfast and beyond the city to patrons sipping cocktails or enjoying afternoon tea.

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